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State replies to Army Corps invasive species report

Rebecca Williams
Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed the state’s response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' invasive species report. Schuette says his biggest complaint is the report fails to outline an aggressive plan to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.              

The report came out in January, and it outlines possibilities without making specific recommendations on what should happen next.

That was a disappointment, says Joy Yearout, Schuette’s communications director.

She says Michigan wants to see some short-term action like more electric barriers placed in Chicago-area canals and rivers, but ultimately wants the waterways that connect the Mississippi River system to Lake Michigan to be disconnected.   

“If the health of the lakes is threatened, it’s going to affect millions of people here in Michigan and affect our economy and we just can’t just wait until the carp are here,” she says. “We need to stop them.” 

“We have witnessed the destruction caused by zebra mussels, by the round goby, by sea lampreys. We know what invasive species can do and we know how hard it is to turn the clock back once they are let loose in the Great Lakes system.”

The Army Corps says physically separating the two water systems would take 25 years and cost $18 billion. The plan would have to be approved and the money appropriated by Congress.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.