More than one hundred people came out to the Hagerty Center in Northwestern Michigan College Thursday night to learn more about potential projects that could keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. The proposals were presented at the three hour meeting.
The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) was conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They evaluated the options and technologies available to prevent aquatic nuisance species from getting into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin. They came up with eight strategies.
The overall response to the presentation was that action needs to be taken now.
â??I wish they had given us one alternative that we could then take back to Congress and begin work to get funding and get it built,â?? said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.
â??Any of the alternatives that we present within the GLMRIS report would require some kind of shared responsibility for that implementation,â?? said Dave Wethington, GLMRIS project manager.
People came out to learn more and to speak up, letting leaders know how seriously they take the issue of invasive species, more specifically the Asian carp.
â??We can leave these Asian carp to our children and all the problems or we can take care of them now,â?? said David Schichtel of Traverse City.
The varying options have different time constraints, and that's what worries a lot of people.
â??They have recommended some solutions that could take 25 years, way too late,â?? said Stabenow.
â??We need to do something very quickly about it,â?? said Jay Youngflesh of Traverse City.
â??No more studies,â?? said Jamie Cross from the Alliance for the Great Lakes in Grand Haven. â??Let's just do what we need to do to separate the basins and make a permanent solution.â??
People overwhelmingly voiced their praise for the strongest possible option: complete separation of the waterways.
Senator Stabenow said it's a major issue because the great lakes constitute 20 percent of the world's fresh water.
â??We know the Corps of Engineers has hundreds and hundreds of projects across the country. We need to be at the top of the list,â?? said Stabenow.
Some say every day progress isn't being made, is another opportunity for the carp to enter the lakes. But many still have a positive outlook.
â??We don't have Asian carp reproducing in the Great Lakes yet,â?? said Cheryl Kallio of Freshwater Future in Petoskey. â??Until that happens, there's hope. Decision makers are listening, people are talking.â??
â??It's important to have this conversation to continue this collaborative path forward as species control is shared responsibility among federal, state, and even members of the public,â?? said Wethington.
Any solution will have to involve all of the Great Lake governors, the Great Lakes Commission as well as state and federal agencies.
Leaders are asking you to submit your feedback on the proposals by March 3. Theyâ??ll take the suggestions to Congress after that deadline.
You can submit feedback electronically by visiting the GLMRIS website or by mailing them to:
US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District
231 S. LaSalle St. Suite 1500
ATTN: GLMRIS Comments, Dave Wethington
Chicago, IL 60604