Act Now, Act Fast, Stop Asian Carp

The emerging theme of the sessions I’ve been in so far is that funding the Great Lakes works. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is producing on-the-ground results and much of it is happening because people in the region are making their voices heard.

Asian carp is the Canary in the Coal Mine

…And it’s singing loudly. Environmental DNA of Asian carp has been found beyond the electric barriers in the Chicago Area Waterways and in Sandusky Bay in Ohio. The carp, and other high risk invaders, are knocking at the doors of the Great Lakes.

It’s important for the region to act quickly, to act on multiple fronts, to encourage the public to speak out and demand protection for the Great Lakes, according to Jared Teutsch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. As such, many groups have come together to engage their constituents – and continue to do so. People have signed postcards, called their Congressional representatives, signed a petition to the President. All of it helps, but there’s more work to be done. What can you do next? Use social media, as Melanie Napoleon from Freshwater Future says, as it’s a fast and easy way to connect with your elected officials. Keep at it. Keep calling on them until they listen.

Robert Hirschfeld spoke in particular about Healthy Water Solutions – the coalition that is focused on a specific strategy for Illinois – where the carp are closest and the biggest impact can be made for the Great Lakes by restoring the natural basin divide. For Illinois there are many good reasons to separate: dozens of other invasive species coming up the river – it’s about more than carp; clean water; flood management; jobs/commerce; and a source of pride for Chicagoans.

We know that 57% of Chicagoans support a permanent barrier. Illinois does care about keeping the Great Lakes safe from carp. But it needs regional support. Of the many issues facing the Great Lakes, the threat of Asian carp is the poster child for why we can’t afford to cut funding now. The longer we wait to act on restoring the natural divide, it just gets more expensive. This is the message. Keep sending it until your elected officials listen.

Silver carp jumping out of the water

Jumping silver carp photo courtesy of USGS

Guest blogger:
Frances Canonizado
Outreach Manager
Alliance for the Great Lakes

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