Great Lakes Mayors Sign Letter Pushing For Brandon Road Asian Carp Barrier

A group of 14 mayors of cities on or near the Great Lakes, including seven from Canada, published an open letter January 24 in the Chicago Sun-Times urging Congress and the Corps of Engineers to adopt more aggressive measures to prevent the spread of Asian carp, including constructing an additional set of electric and other barriers at Brandon Road Lock and Dam opposed by the towing industry as unnecessary.

The U.S. mayors who signed the letter include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, along with mayors Tom Barrett (Milwaukee, Wis.); Karen Freeman-Wilson (Gary, Ind.); Paul Dyster (Niagara Falls, N.Y.); Emily Larson (Duluth, Minn.); Mike Vandersteen (Sheboygan, Wis.); and Jim Carruthers (Traverse City, Mich.).

The letter declares, “The time for action is now. Asian carp have been slowly but steadily making their way up the Mississippi River towards the Great Lakes for decades. Previous strategies to prevent this slow-motion train wreck have been ineffective and insufficient.”

The barrier proposal is called the “tentatively selected plan” in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report, released in January 2014, which describes alternatives to prevent aquatic interbasin transfer of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. Besides another electric barrier, the plan includes nonstructural measures, complex noise, water jets, engineered channel, electric barrier, flushing lock, boat launches and mooring area.

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In addition to opposition to the barrier proposal from the towing industry and other commercial interests, the state of Illinois has also voiced reluctance to provide the tens of millions of dollars that would make up its share of funding for the proposed barrier.