Lipinski Celebrates Completion of Barrier to Prevent Asian Carp from Reaching Great Lakes
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) joined local, state, and federal officials in celebrating the completion of a 13-mile barricade designed to prevent invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and doing grave harm to native fish populations, ecosystems, and the regional economy.
The barricade, consisting of concrete barriers and a specially fabricated wire mesh fence, will prevent Asian carp from circumventing existing electrical barriers by being swept from the Des Plaines River and the I&M Canal into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal during heavy rains and flooding. Congressman Lipinski helped pass the funding that enabled construction of the barrier, which runs from Willow Springs, in the Third District, to Romeoville. Romeoville is represented by Congresswoman Judy Biggert (IL-13), who has been a leader in the bipartisan effort to stop the Asian carp.
"The Great Lakes are one of our most vital environmental and economic resources," Congressman Lipinski said. "Protecting them from invasive species such as the Asian carp is essential to preserving their health and ensuring that they remain productive and enjoyable resources for future generations. I look forward to continuing to work to prevent Asian carp from damaging the Great Lakes while preserving economic growth."
The project was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and funded as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. During the July 24 – 25 heavy rains in the Chicago area the completed I&M Canal blockage and the completed portions of the fence along the Des Plaines River functioned as designed and prevented the unimpeded flow of water at connections closest to the electrical barriers.
"As an avid cyclist, I am also happy that completion of the fence will permit the reopening of the entire Centennial and I&M Canal Trail," Congressman Lipinski said. "I applaud the work of the Army Corps in building the fence while maintaining this great trail."
Asian carp were imported into the southern United States and escaped into the wild in the 1980s and have been swimming northward ever since. Asian carp can grow to 110 pounds, and they compete directly with native fish for food. Between 1991 and 2000, Asian carp abundances surged exponentially in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, crowding out other species and leading to the abandonment of many commercial fishing areas. Because the commercial value of Asian carp is well below that of the native fish they replace, the establishment of Asian carp could cause great economic damage to the Great Lakes' fisheries, today valued at more than $7 billion annually.
"The quick completion of this project is just one step in a multi-pronged effort to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes," Congressman Lipinski said. "But it shows that we are taking effective action on an urgent basis, and doing so in a way that will not slow shipping or commercial activity or damage the local economy at a time when job creation is critical."
(October 29, 2010)
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