OUR OPINION: INVASIVE CARP | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

OUR OPINION: INVASIVE CARP

Close the gates and dams on the Mississippi

Posted: March 8, 2012 - 5:24pm

Five members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have introduced a bill to close the lock and dam at St. Anthony Falls if invasive fish are found north of Hastings.

The reaction from this corner is: “Why wait until Asian carp reach Hastings?”

In our view, tomorrow would not be too soon to close the lock and dam if we could ensure the quality of Minnesota lakes and rivers. We know the carp are in Missouri and southern Illinois. The destructive fish are spreading fast and closing lock and dam barriers along the Mississippi is thought to be best way to deter their encroachment.

The Uppper Mississippi Conservation and River Protection (CARP) Act would also let Minnesota and other states tap into a $50 million federal fund to control the spread of Asian carp. Let’s take this federal money and couple it with Minnesota Legacy money raised by the recent voter-approved sales tax hike to stop these carp dead in their aquatic tracks.

Introducing the bill are Democrats Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Keith Ellison and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen.

Minnesota’s barge industry, which ships grain, sand and other materials on the river, is sure to fight the bill, but we would argue the state’s economy has considerably more at stake in its fight to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.

Congress should act swiftly to pass this bill. It’s difficult to exaggerate the damage these voracious fish can cause to Minnesota’s environment.

— Mike O’Rourke