News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

The Holden Arboretum

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Ohioans push for action to save Lake Erie's fisheries
But  the Army Corps is slow to accept the $18 billion re-engineering needed to separate the carp-infested Mississippi system from the Great Lakes
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Lake Erie fisherman Nate Stansberry holds a small mouth bass after a successful outing. Stansberry is one of more than 700 charter captains fishing the lake and part of the industry worth $7 billion annually - all of it is at risk if Asian carp reach the Great Lakes.
Courtesy of Nate Stansberry
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The history of invasive species in America is littered with environmental and economic devastation. Think of kudzu, the boll weevil, gypsy moths, and the emerald ash borer. In the Great Lakes, the economic damage caused by zebra mussels and other invasives each year runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And the list goes on.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at what it will take to prevent a looming environmental disaster in Lake Erie.

LISTEN: The politics and engineering of carp prevention

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (5:13)


Erie and its native bounty
The shimmering waters of Lake Erie stretch to the horizon like an inland ocean. The Great Lakes hold 20-percent of the world’s fresh water, and of the five, Erie is the most productive. Perch, walleye, bass and other native fish thrive to the tune of a 10-million-pound haul each year.  It’s an estimated $7 billion industry.

And that’s why charter captain Nate Stansberry is at the Cleveland Public Library on this cold January night, talking fish with me.  He's fished around the world but chose Cleveland as his home because of the abundance of Lake Erie's waters.  

Stansberry is one of around 100 people attending a meeting hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is in Cleveland to detail options to protect Lakes Erie’s fishery from two voracious interlopers coming up the Mississippi, the silver and big head carp.  Stansberry says the fertility that makes Erie a world class fishing hotspot, also make it an Eden for invasives. 

Another citizen here to voice concern about the risk of invasive carp is Attorney General Mike DeWine. He says an Asian carp invasion would have, "a tremendous economic impact on northern Ohio.”   And not just for fishermen. 

Each year, one third of Ohio’s 40 billion tourism dollars are spent along the lake shore, supporting 17,000 jobs. And DeWine says the carp put all of it -- fishing, boating, and related industries at risk.

DeWine says there’s really only one solution to prevent the disaster, "and that is to have a separation of the water to keep the fish from going into the Great Lakes, there’s no other way to do it.”

Ohio's sense of urgency is not shared in Chicago
Inside the library auditorium, DeWine and more than a dozen others deliver that message to the Army Corps. Among them is Marcy Kaptur, whose congressional district runs along the lake shore from Toledo to Cleveland.

She has harsh words for the meeting’s hosts, reminding the crowd that, "It took a bill in Congress to wake the Corps up from its hibernation."  

Kaptur says the Corps has done this region a disservice, "in failing to make a final and firm recommendation about the best course of action to prevent an Asian carp invasion of our lakes.”

Like virtually every other speaker at the January 16th meeting, Kaptur urges immediate action.

"We have to save this lake and the others.”  - Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo


The politics of parting the waters
But project manager Dave Wethington says the Army Corps cannot rush any decision. Which is why its report 2 weeks ago outlined eight options – from simply maintaining the current electric barrier leading to the Chicago Shipping and Sanitary Canal, to an $18 billion severing of the Chicago waterways from the Great Lakes – but did not put its weight behind any of them.

Wethington says the Corps of Engineers is not going to to make a specific decision without the, "shared responsibility,” of a host of political players, including the White House.

Wethington says closing off the Chicago waterways that connect the carp infested Mississippi system with the lakes is the easy part. The 25 year hold-up, he says, and more than 80 percent of the $18.4 billion dollar price tag is rerouting Chicago’s flow of waste water and flood control. 

"We need to make sure that the city of Chicago, over nine million residents, and the significant natural resources of Lake Michigan are protected from adverse water quality impacts." - Dave Wethington, USACE  

Col. Fred Drummond is commander of the Corps’ Chicago district. He’s thinking of the challenges of undoing a century’s worth of hydraulic infrastructure in the Windy City, and is in no hurry to jump into a project of that scale.

He hedges his comments with a big IF, saying "IF we’re going to alter the waterway in Chicago, we’ve got to be able to deal with the flood risk measures that come along with that.”

But Drummond says if the political will is there, he’s on board for whatever the politicians decide. But he warns, "there’s a lot of different dynamics in the construction industry that go along with building a big reservoir.”

The wolf at the door 
Meanwhile a less destructive invasive, the grass carp has been found breeding in the Sandusky river. And in 2010 a 20-pound big head carp was caught beyond the electric barrier that is supposed to keep the fish from getting beyond the Chicago waterways toward the lakes. Smatterings of Carp DNA are showing up more often in Great Lakes samples, and everyone agrees the wolf is at the door.

But, Lake Erie fisherman Nate Stansberry is confident a solution will be found to save his livelihood. “Fisherman," he says, "are all optimists, because you have to be.”

Public comment of the Corps  of Engineer’s invasive carp plan ends March 3rd.

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Will Ohio's marijuana initiative follow casinos' lead?
We just ask to have marijuana legalized and here comes some nimrod trying to rob us of our rights and make us buy it from some legalized new type DRUG DEALER th...

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University