More than 200 hunting, fishing, conservation, and outdoor recreation industry groups have submitted public comments in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes by constructing new technologies at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam outside Chicago.
According to Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation, the plan is not a "silver bullet," but it is the best near term option for keeping the invasive fish out of the Great Lakes and out of the waterways that are connected to them.
"We need an urgent action action right now because they're at the doorsteps of the Great Lakes, and they're spreading," said Smith. "And this plan will be the best chance we have to stop them from getting into the Great Lakes."
"We have learned from the discovery of the zebra mussel in Lake Ontario over two decades ago," said Smith. "That the best way to deal with an invasive species is to keep them out."
"The plan is pretty straight forward," Smith said. "It proposes a gauntlet of technologies and a flushing lock to reduce the risk that Asian carp can get through, while still allowing navigation through the lock."
Smith said the invasive carp threaten the Great Lakes region's multi-billion dollar fishing industry and outdoor recreation economy - and the region's quality of life.
"The $7 billion fishery, $16 billion tourism industry, a wildlife outdoor economy that produces almost $2.6 billion per year are too much to risk," said Smith.
Smith said the estimated cost of the Army Corps plan is $778 million. He said, "The cost of not doing anything far outweighs the cost of this project.
The groups urge the Army Corps to move fast to finalize the plan and Congress to promptly approve and fund it.
Their letter concludes, "We need stronger controls in place now in order to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from continuing to swim closer to - and eventually into - the Great Lakes. Without firm and swift action to stop the further movement of Asian carp and other invasive species, the future of hunting, fishing and our outdoor heritage in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River region is at risk."