Written by John Peach
posted on January 13, 2019 12:40
The long awaited “Great Lakes and Mississippi River – Brandon Road Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement,” to block the entrance of Asian carp into the Great Lakes, through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, has entered its final stage before being sent to Congress for approval and funding.
Photo courtesy JasonLindsay.com
Two species of Asian carp, bighead and steel carp, are daunting invasive fish, weighing 80 to 100 pounds. They jump when frightened, which can injure recreational boaters and are within four miles of the Brandon Road Lock, located 41 miles southwest of Lake Michigan. If these species of Asian carp become established in the St. Lawrence River, they will drastically alter food chains, impact our ecosystems and fisheries, and harm our recreation and tourism industries.
A complete description of the project can be found at https://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Protection-and-Restoration/GLMRIS-BrandonRoad/.
The introductory illustration pages give a good overview of the project, and the executive summary is quite readable.
Below you will find a comment letter, Save The River sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), requesting that they push forward the Plan to block the progress of Asian carp, on December 21, 2018. A call to action went out earlier that week to all of our members and followers, in addition to a press release that was sent to regional news media and received coverage at several news outlets, including Thousand Islands Sun, North Country Public Radio, Watertown Daily Times, and North Country Now.
The comment period has been extended by 60 days, ending on February 22; *click here* to submit your support of the Plan to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
These letters and calls to action are the first stage, in a multi-step campaign to encourage the U.S. Congress to pass and fund the Plan, which will be followed by a campaign to urge New York State to step-up and share in the funding of the non-federal portion of the Plan.
As soon as USACE accepts the comments on the Plan, they are scheduled to recommend it to Congress for approval and funding. It is crucial that work on the first step of the Plan, the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) documents, gets funded and started as soon as possible, in order for the project to hit its target completion date of 2027. Save The River will be reaching out to all our members and followers to contact their Representatives and Senators to urge them to pass and fund the Plan. We know that Congresswoman Stefanik is in favor of the Plan and will be working to see it passed.
Funding for the currently estimated $778 million project will be shared 65% by the Federal government and 35% by the Great Lakes states. As of this date, New York State has not indicated a willingness to participate in this non-federal cost sharing, in spite of the hundreds of miles of NYS shoreline on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. We are planning a campaign of communications to engage the governor and state legislators, stressing the importance of funding the Plan and educating them on the perils of not acting to stop Asian carp before they establish a breeding community in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
We hope that we can count on you to help push through these essential steps of Save The River’s fight to stop Asian carp. We have been successful in the past, stopping the ill-conceived winter navigation project on the River, along with advocating for Plan 2014, the passage of microbead legislation, and more stringent regulation of ballast water exchange, all because of the passionate and enthusiastic support and involvement of our members and followers. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have about the plan to block Asian carp at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Save The River member, thank you very much for your support. If you are not a member, please consider joining today at: donate.savetheriver.org.
Save The River, the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper is a nonprofit, membership supported, environmental organization whose mission is to restore, preserve, and protect the ecological integrity of the Upper St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come.
Every February, Save the River hosts a Winter Weekend. This year they celebrate the 30th year of this important annual event. Thirty years of gathering to hear from national and regional policymakers, scientists, opinion leaders, students, and teachers about the topics of critical importance to the health of the St. Lawrence River.
At this year’s conference, you’ll learn about the diversion of Great Lakes freshwater, research on American eels, the threat of Asian carp, plastics in our water, and research of mercury cycling in St. Lawrence River wetlands. They will also premiere their short film, “It’s Hard to be a Tern.”
Make plans now to return to the River in Clayton, on the first Saturday of February! Please register by Friday, January 25, 2019.
John Peach, Executive Director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper
John Peach was appointed to serve as executive director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper in August of 2018. John served on Save The River’s Board from 2000-2018 in several key roles, including as aa President from 2004-2007, on the executive committee, and most recently as Treasurer, leading the finance committee. He has been an active volunteer in Save The River’s Common Tern Monitoring Program and Shoal Marking Program and will continue his work in these programs while serving as executive director. Prior to his retirement several years ago, John worked as an international business consultant, in fields including arts, oceanographic research, environmental, and pharmaceuticals. He and his wife Pat call Huckleberry Island, near Ivy Lea, home for a significant portion of the year.
John has written a dozen articles for TI life beginning in 2010. You can view them here.