LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Did the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers snub Indiana’s
Asian carp problem in its recent study highlighting options for controlling
invasive species in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River?
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller thinks so.
The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study Report, released
Monday, outlined concepts for controlling aquatic invasive species movement
between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
"Seven years in the making, this report offers costly suggestions for the
Chicago region and Great Lakes but very little that would address the impact
of Asian carp on our iconic Wabash River and other Hoosier waterways,”
“Having personally eye witnessed these invasive jumping carp that crowd out
native fish and are a nuisance to boaters, and having met with concerned
constituents in our river communities, I know that there needs to be more
focus on current efforts to control Asian carp with the goal of eventual
eradication in our waterways.”
The Wabash River, where bighead and silver Asian carp feed and have a role
in starving out native species, is not specifically mentioned in the more
than 200-page report, the Journal & Courier reported .
Additionally, none of the meetings at which the Army Corps of Engineers will
take public comment is in Indiana. Meetings are taking place near Chicago,
Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., Traverse City and Ann
Arbor, Mich., and St. Louis.
“The report offers no help to Indiana,” said Zoeller, who traveled to the
Chicago meeting Thursday to share his concerns. “To add insult to injury,
they don’t even have a public meeting in Indiana.”
Dave Wethington, an Army Corps of Engineers project manager who worked on
the Great Lakes report, said he was disappointed to hear about Zoeller’s
frustration. Wethington pointed out that the report highlights specific work
that the Army Corps has been involved in at Eagle Marsh in Fort Wayne.
“I’m sorry that he feels that way,” Wethington said. “In my opinion, the
attorney general’s comment is unfair because we have dedicated significant
resources to the issue at Eagle Marsh.”
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has identified Eagle Marsh as a
potential route for Asian carp to move from the Wabash River system into a
Lake Erie tributary, Maumee River, under flooding conditions.
Wethington said the report did not put more focus on Indiana because the
Army Corps received authorization from Congress for a report focused on the
Great Lakes and Mississippi River in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the
21st Century Act.
“We were following congressional direction in creating the report to focus
on Chicago-area waterways,” Wethington said. “We refer the readers of the
report to our website, where there’s some excellent information about
(controlling invasive species) outside, specifically for Eagle Marsh.”
Zoeller said he believes the state of Indiana should receive federal dollars
or assistance in trying to curtail the Asian carp invasion in the Wabash
Asian carp were introduced to the waterways in the southern United States to
clear aquaculture ponds, according to the DNR, but escaped into the
Mississippi River in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then they’ve expanded their
territory into nearly 15 states.
“It’s not something that Indiana caused, but I think it’s appropriate we
look for some federal help for a problem not of our making,” Zoeller said.
Wethington acknowledged “there very well may be a role for federal dollars
in Indiana problems.”
“It’s probably much more efficient to take care of it at a state and local
level,” he said. “Sure, it can become a federal program, but does that make
the most sense?”
Even though the Army Corps skipped Indiana for a public meeting, the Army
Corps team is going to meet Friday with members of the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources and Gov. Mike Pence’s office.
“I respect the fact that the state of Indiana is concerned,” Wethington
said, “but it comes down to making the most of limited resources.”
Meanwhile, Zoeller said he hopes that more people join him in requesting
federal attention to Indiana’s Asian carp problem.
“We all can agree we’d like to keep them out of the Great Lakes, but what
about our current problems?” Zoeller said. “I really hope there will be more
people joining our frustration that we can’t get some federal attention to