University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Editorial Page Battle Picks Up, Clear Thinking Does Not

September 18, 2013Patrick NunnallyRivers1

A week ago, the editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a remarkably focused argument that the locks at St. Anthony Falls near downtown should be closed, lest invasive Asian carp get through, endangering the state’s lucrative and important tourism and recreational fishing industries.  Most observers of the carp battle were pleased with this development.

But not all.  This week, the paper published an op-ed commentary from the deputy for programs and project management at the St. Paul District, Army Corps of Engineers.  She asserted–argued would be too strong a word–that Asian carp would not be a threat to the northern waters of the state because there are a couple of other dams above St. Anthony, and besides, the state’s famed Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness isn’t even in the watershed.  Calling for “relevant facts and good science,” she argued that essentially we all need to work together.

Indeed we do.  But we have to have better ways to make points and engage in discussions of important matters of public policy than just saying “I have additional facts, so your argument is wrong.”  In fact, the science has not yet told us the likelihood of carp surmounting some dams, and the northern Minnesota watersheds are so complex that boundaries should be considered extremely porous to aquatic invasive species.

Fortunately, clearer thinking (necessary but not sufficient for answers to complex questions) is at hand.  The Freshwater Society and the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota are holding a public lecture on the carp problem in early October.

Duane Chapman, a research biologist who is an expert on Asian carp, will give a free public lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in St. Paul.

His lecture, titled “The Biology and Management of Asian Carp: Lessons for Minnesota,” is sponsored by the Freshwater Society, the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, and the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Student Center theater on the university’s St. Paul campus.

Learn more and register to attend at

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One Comment

  1. More on Asian Carp–article has complexity and depth | River LifeSeptember 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

    […] Last week I posted about the need for better, more nuanced, thinking on the issue of whether or not to close navigation locks on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis to guard against the spread of Asian carp.  Well, I’m quite sure that the editors at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune weren’t listening to me, but they did publish a story last week that gave considerable breadth and complexity to the issue. […]

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