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Field Reports: States, feds meet on keeping Asian carp out of Great Lakes

Price tag for barrier near Chicago now tops $778 million

bighead carp captured near Stillwater.jpg
Asian bighead carp caught on the St. Croix River near Stillwater, Minn. (Photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Officials from all six Great Lakes states and their Canadian counterparts met in Chicago last month to pore over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

The Corps is advancing a plan to build a barrier on a river outside Chicago to keep the carp from moving into Lake Michigan from the Illinois River system where they have exploded in number.

That barrier would include electric current, air bubbles and sound devices to thwart the carp from moving past. The project would be located at Brandon Road Lock and Dam outside Chicago.

"It is wonderful to see the Great Lakes… states and provinces come to the table prepared to deal with one of the major aquatic invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes," said Preston Cole, acting Wisconsin DNR secretary.

The project, as proposed by Army Corps, is located at what is considered a key chokepoint in the fight against Asian carp. It would place additional electric barriers in the waterway to stop the invasive species from moving through the lock and dam. It also would utilize an air bubble curtain to dislodge entrained fish. Finally, the plan would employ special underwater speakers while ships move through the locks to blast sound waves at decibels and frequencies to deter Asian carp movement from the downstream approach channel.

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The Army Corps submitted a $778 million request to Congress in May to get funding for the project. That’s up from a $275 million price tag when the idea first surfaced in 2017. Great Lakes states also will likely have to pony up some cash. The Army Corps generally requires non-federal partners to pay 35% of a project’s construction costs, although Congress could waive some or all of the requirements.

The carp, which feed by filtering material out of the water, were first introduced in the U.S. decades ago to clean commercial fish ponds. They escaped during floods and have overwhelmed the Mississippi River system as far north as Minnesota. They also moved up the Illinois River and are approaching Lake Michigan.

The meeting “kept the process moving forward," said Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "There are still questions surrounding the design and cost of the plan, but discussion helped to identify, if not ease, some of those concerns."

Munch paddleboards from Duluth to Arctic

Jared Munch completed his paddleboard voyage from Duluth to the Arctic Ocean on Thursday.

After around a month traversing lakes, streams and wilderness, Munch, 26, ended his approximately 920-mile stand-up paddleboard trip from Duluth’s Brighton Beach to James Bay in the Arctic Ocean on Thursday, according to an online map tracking his progress.

His trip started along Lake Superior’s North Shore, where he went from Duluth to Ontario’s Michipicoten River. Then, he paddled up the Michipicoten and portaged to the Missanabie River, which he then paddled down to reach James Bay.

To prepare for the voyage, he lifted weights, took paddling trips on hard whitewater rapids and surfed major bodies of water, among other things, Munch said in an interview before he left.

On Tuesday, he posted on Facebook that he was staying in the Hudson Bay Fur Trade Company that night.

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“Feels good to be in civilization and get cleaned up after two weeks of living in a tent with increasingly wet/stinky belongings,” his post read.

This wasn’t Munch’s first major voyage. In the summer of 2015, he was the first person to stand-up paddleboard around Lake Superior. It took 49 days to complete the 1,350-mile trip.

Munch asked for donations for his trip, which all go to Neighborhood Youth Service outdoor youth program.

Federal agency to study lampreys

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services crews will study the presence of sea lampreys in the St. Louis River in August.

From August 6-15, a crew from the federal agency will study the amount of lamprey larvae in the St. Louis River to decide on possible lamprey prevention, according to a news release from Fish and Wildlife Services.

The parasitic fish, which is native to the Atlantic Ocean, became a Great Lakes invasive species in the 1920s. Since then, they’ve been a “permanent, destructive element of the fishery,” the news release read.

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Using their suction-cup mouths, they attach to fish and scrape through its scales and skin to feed on bodily fluids. During its parasitic feeding stage, a lamprey can kill upwards of 40 pounds of fish. Fish are often unable to survive after a lamprey attaches, according to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Lampreys threaten fish in the Great Lakes when the larvae drift from streams and tributaries, like the St. Louis River, into the lakes.

Before lampreys reached Lake Superior, 4.5 million pounds of fish were harvested annually. After the lampreys invaded, the annual catch decreased to 368,000 pounds by 1961, according to the commission.

The study is among hundreds of other lamprey surveys done annually in streams that feed into the Great Lakes, according to the news release.

Kids can hunt deer with adult mentors

Minnesota kids can apply to hunt deer in select state parks and other refuge areas during 19 special deer hunts in October and November that give youth and parents or adult mentors an opportunity to hunt together.

Applications must be made by Aug. 16. Go to licenses.dnr.state.mn.us. Of the 19 special hunts, 17 are firearms hunts for youth ages 12 to 15, and two are archery hunts for youth ages 12 to 17.

Summer events at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area

Multiple programs suitable for all ages are planned for the rest of the summer at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area near Grantsburg, Wis.

The Crex Hunt and Fish Camp is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It covers the basics of hunting and fishing and teaching children how to interact with nature using ageless skills. Participants will have the opportunity to practice shooting archery targets and set up deer stands and blinds while participating in hunting scenario activities.

They will also get to learn about fishing equipment and spend the last day fishing at Memory Lake Park. Participants should bring bug spray, closed-toe shoes and a water bottle. Pre-registration is required. The class size is limited to 20 students between ages 10 to 15.

A duck banding program from 6-8:30 p.m. Aug. 9 will give participants an opportunity to help biologists and wildlife technicians capture, band, and release local ducks. The program is open to anyone age 8 and older, but space is limited and pre-registration is required. Participants will meet at the Visitor Center to receive information and instruction. People will carpool to the banding site.

Children interested in learning how to kayak can enroll in the Kids Kayak Adventure, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 19. Crex is offering a course for kids ages 11 and older to learn the basics of kayaking and have the chance to paddle around Upper North Fork Flowage. You must register by Aug. 9 in order to participate. The course costs $25 or is free if you bring your own equipment. Life jackets are required.

Youths aged 12 to 17 can learn how to bow-hunt in Explore Archery, scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 29-30. Learn about equipment, shooting basics, ethics and more. At the end of the class, participants will be able to participate in a shooting course. Pre-registration is required.

To register for events at Crex Meadows, please visit www.crexmeadows.org/programs-events. For more information, contact Lauren Finch, Wisconsin DNR Natural Resources Educator, at 715-463-2739. Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area is located at 102 East Crex Ave., Grantsburg, Wis. Wildlife conservation education programs are supported by Friends of Crex. For more information, visit www.crexmeadows.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Related Topics: HUNTING
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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