Several groups and Great Lakes states are working to protect their bodies of water from the Asian carp.
In the second part of his series, Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow looks at how Ohio is working to protect Lake Erie.
Asian carp are an ecological threat moving their way closer to Lake Erie. They eat a lot… they rapidly reproduce… and they cause all sorts of problems for the native species.
Right now the Asian carp… specifically the Bighead and Silver species… are in rivers… working their way north. And the best way to protect the Great Lakes is to protect their gateways.
The Great Lakes Commission is mainly concerned with the Chicago-area water system… identifying that as a high-risk pathway. But… Ohio officials are working to defend three passages that pose a risk in the Buckeye State… Portage Lake … and Little Killbuck Creek in northeast Ohio and Grand Lake St. Marys in northwest Ohio.
Carter: “Those are of concern because they represent areas connections between the Ohio River—where Asian carp are starting to move into—and Lake Erie. So we do not want Bighead and Silver carp to be able to breach those gaps and move into Lake Erie.”
Rich Carter is the executive administrator for fish management and research for the state. He says protecting Lake Erie is important… especially for Ohio anglers.
Carter: “These fish again are food chain disruptors and they have the ability to out compete our native fish—you know—our walleye, and our yellow perch, and our small-mouthed bass—basically out compete with the young of those fish. So they could diminish the populations of those fish.”
So what can be done to defend these gateways? At Little Killbuck Creek… the state is working with local soil and water conservation groups and the federal government to close the connection between the Ohio River and Lake Erie.
As for Portage Lakes… the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently performing an engineering evaluation.
The same type of evaluation is in the preliminary stages at Grand Lake St. Marys… this study will determine the best course of action to disconnect the waterways.
The Great Lakes Commission says proposing to close the Chicago-area water system has created some controversy. However… Carter says defending the gateways in Ohio has not garnered any pushback.