A critical moment in Great Lakes history is upon us

The next five weeks could be among the most important in Great Lakes history.

The Corps of Engineers is holding a series of public hearings around the region to gather public input on its study of how best to separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed.

The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin Interbasin Feasibility Study, or GLMRIS, will set a course of action for the Corps’ long-term battle to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.

Asian carp that were imported to commercial fish farms in the south in the 1960s, and later escaped into the Mississippi River, are now on the brink of entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The GLMRIS study is necessary to secure federal funding for projects that could create a hydrologic separation between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.

But the study has two serious flaws:

  • It focuses on risk reduction instead of prevention.  Congress directed the Corps to focus on preventing the movement of invasive species between the watersheds, not just reducing the risk.
  • It would take too long to complete. The Chicago portion of the study, which is critical to keeping Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan, wouldn’t be finished until 2015. The Corps should complete that part of the study within 18 months.

Here is the schedule of public hearings on the GLMRIS study:

  • Jan. 11: Buffalo, NY.
  • Jan. 13: Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Jan. 20: St. Paul, Minn.
  • Jan. 25: Green Bay, Wis.
  • Jan. 27: Traverse City, Mich.
  • Feb. 1: Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Feb. 3: Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Feb. 8: St. Louis, Mo.
  • Feb. 10: Vicksburg, Miss.

More details about the meetings can be found on the GLMRIS website where you can also download the GLMRIS study and related documents.

The Corps is accepting written comments on the study through March 31. Information on how to submit comments can be found here.

Now is the time to speak out if you’re concerned about Asian carp invading the Great Lakes. Check out this video to see why we don’t want Asian carp in the Great Lakes or its tributaries.