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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Illinois, Michigan join forces to stop Asian carp invasion

(The Center Square) – Illinois and Michigan joined forces to stop the Asian carp species from invading the Great Lakes.

Michigan made $8 million available to help Illinois sponsor the design of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project to 30% of completion, according to a news release from the Illinois Governor’s Office.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will design the new technology for installing at Brandon Road Lock and Dam.

“Preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes was a day-one priority for my administration,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “We know it’s been a priority for a lot of others, but we needed to take action, and that’s what today’s action represents.”

Whitmer noted the economic impact the Great Lakes have, pointing out the 1.3 million jobs the lakes support.

Loren Wobig, director of Illinois’ Office of Water Resources, said Michigan stepped up.

If the invasive species entered the lakes, they could do a lot of environmental and economic damage, Wobig said.

“If the fish were to get into the lake, obviously they’re competitors for food sources, and so the fisheries of the lake are concerned about impacts to the fisheries and the fishing industry that occur in the Great Lakes,” he said.

Located near Joliet, Illinois, the Brandon Road Lock and Dam is on the Des Plaines River and a critical juncture for keeping the fish out of the Great Lakes ecosystem, the release said.

The carp can’t jump the dam, according to Wobig, but they could pass through the lock when it’s opened to allow watercraft through.

“It is a project that is intended to incorporate several different technologies from electricity to sound to water jets to deter the fish from entering into the lock,” he said.

The way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does business, it requires a non-federal sponsor to move forward with the design and completion of the project, Wobig said. Illinois was the only choice since the project is going to be built in the state.

Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources is contributing $2.5 million to the project, the release said.

“The Great Lakes are a priceless natural resource that supports the livelihoods of thousands of Illinoisans and attract visitors from across the globe,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in the release. “Protecting the lakes is a top priority for my administration, which is why I included funding for Asian Carp mitigation efforts in my bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan.”

In Illinois’ agreement with Michigan, Illinois will spend its $2.5 million first in good faith before accessing Michigan’s funds, Wobig said.

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