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Effort to stop Asian carp merits support

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Zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and other aquatic invaders are causing enough problems on lakes in Douglas County.

Let's not add Asian carp to the mix.

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That's why we were glad to see a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is addressing the problem with vigor.

Last week, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and U.S.

Representatives Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan introduced bipartisan legislation to help fight the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's waterways.

Asian carp could wreck our lakes. They're huge, have voracious appetites and can outcompete native species of fish for both food and habitat. One kind of Asian carp, the bighead carp, can reach up to 100 pounds and its juveniles can consume up to 140 percent of their body weight daily while adults can consume up to 40 percent of their body weight daily.

Another species that everyday citizens may be more familiar with because of their popularity on YouTube is silver carp. They have a habit of jumping up to five feet out of the water when disturbed by vibrations commonly caused by boat motors, thus creating a safety hazard.

Both the bighead and silver carp can spawn multiple times annually, quickly displacing native species.

The new legislation would kick-start the process to consider closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock on the Mississippi River to help stop the spread of the invasive species, as well as require immediate closure if Asian carp are found.

The bill also directs federal agencies to partner with Minnesota on efforts to root out infestations and prevent the spread of Asian carp in the state's rivers.

Klobuchar authored the bill in the Senate and Ellison authored the bill in the House of Representatives. The legislation is supported by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Klobuchar made a good point in a news release touting the effort: "Asian carp not only pose a serious threat to Minnesota's environment, they also threaten the recreation and fishing industries that play a key role in the state's economy," she said.

Franken added that the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's waterways "would be disastrous for Minnesota's fishing and boating industries, which rely on healthy waterways and contribute billions to our economy."

The legislation is known as the Upper Mississippi Conservation and River Protection Act (Upper Mississippi CARP Act). It requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct feasibility studies on both the temporary and permanent closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within six months and a year of the bill becoming law, respectively.

The studies would also examine the possibility of using other control methods, such as modifying lock operations and alternative barriers, to stop the spread of Asian carp.

The effort has some strong players in its corner, including the DNR, Anglers for Habitat, Clean Water Action - Minnesota, Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Mississippi River, FM Walleyes Unlimited, Inc., Izaak Walton League of America - MN Division, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Mississippi River Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Minnesota and New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen.

The measure merits the support of anyone who wants to preserve Minnesota's proud fishing legacy.

Alexandria Echo Press

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