Budget to Fight Asian Carp Scaled Down, Army Engineers Ask for $500,000

   02.17.15

Last year the US Army Corps of Engineers submitted a report to Congress that detailed options to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, including a massive proposal that would cost as much as $18 billion to complete. Yet last week the Corps asked for just $500,000 in its budget on Asian carp, out of a $4.7 billion request to Congress. Conservation groups who have been following the spread of the invasive species and its attempts to enter Lake Michigan are now saying that sum is much too low.

“I will say there is a big hole in the government’s budget for Asian carp,” Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s totally inadequate.”

Asian carp are a highly invasive species that was first imported to the United States for aquacultural purposes. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the fish escaped into the Mississippi River and colonized the waterway and many of its tributaries. For years conservationists have been worried that two species of Asian carp, silver and bighead, would find their way into the Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. However, the species seems to have been halted by an electronic barrier in the Chicago Area Waterway System.

Appearing before the US House Appropriations Subcommittee last week, the commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers said that the fish’s advance has stopped.

“The point is, the leading edge of the Asian carp has not changed movement since 2006,” Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick told lawmakers. “We don’t know why they haven’t moved.”

Cleveland.com reported that the nearest Asian carp spawning area to the Great Lakes is 62 miles away, and established populations are an even further 143 miles away. It appears that the area’s much lauded and highly expensive electric barriers are proving to be effective. In addition to its $500,000 budget for carp prevention, the Corps did ask for an additional $28 million to finish a third electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Conservationists argue that the barriers should not be the only solution to the Asian carp problem, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service seems to agree. The agency is proposing to increase its own $5.5 million budgets on carp monitoring efforts in the region.

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