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More on Asian Carp–article has complexity and depth

Central RiverfrontLast 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.

Some points of particular note:

  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum of St. Paul is lukewarm in her support of Minneapolis lock closure as the primary response to the threat from carp.  If the response to the threat is just closing Minneapolis locks, that strategy essentially concedes St. Paul’s stretch of the river to the invasive fish.  McCollum’s preferred plan, also in a proposed bill, would undertake a more comprehensive research and policy analysis that would attempt to thwart carp as far downstream as possible,
  • The potential for lock closure in Minneapolis is being watched closely by people monitoring the advance of Asian carp up the Illinois River toward Chicago and the Great Lakes.  There, a pitched battle is being fought in courts, in industry and Congressional offices, and in the “court of public opinion” about the question of “re-reversing” the Chicago River and establishing a permanent physical barrier to the carp.  The Minneapolis bill attempts to sidestep the controversial proposal to close locks on the basis of threats from carp by tying lock closure to traffic counts.  If the traffic through St. Anthony Falls locks drops below a certain volume, then the process to close the locks would start.  These locks are at the head of the system, so while there would be some impact on jobs and on transportation alternatives (more trucks on the region’s highways, for example) that impact would be much lighter than closing locks farther downstream
  • There’s an urban design and community development angle to the issue as well.  One of the industries upstream of St. Anthony Falls that uses the locks is the city’s Upper Harbor Terminal.  For a number of years now city staff have been studying the terminal site, and believe that redevelopment of the site would be more in line with the city’s economic and community development strategies

Complexities abound, and this dispute is a long way from being over.  Still, the step reported last week–inclusion of lock closure provisions in a federal water resource development bill–represents the strongest effort yet to fight the carp battle by creating a permanent physical barrier on the Mississippi River.


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One Comment

  1. Greg GenzOctober 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Please look at Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance for working on establishing communication with the ag community.

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