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Impressions from a GLMRIS Meeting

January 29, 2014

All of us who are concerned about invasive species, especially Asian Carp, in Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes have been waiting for years for the release of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, “GLMRIS” (glim-ris) for short, by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  On January 6, 2014, the Corps released their study of how to prevent the transfer of Aquatic Nuisance Species between the watersheds. You may explore the summary, report, numerous appendices, and maps at the GLMRIS Report web page.

UPDATE 2/4/13:  The comment period has been extended until March 31 and additional public hearings have been added.

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The report presents eight alternative approaches to prevent the transfer of invasive species.

The Corps is holding several meetings to present the report to the public, and hear public comments.  League members throughout the Lake Michigan states are attending. Here are some impressions of one of our members from the January 23 meeting in Traverse City, Michigan:

There was a surprisingly large turn-out with a hugely diverse number of organizations represented.  First and foremost, both our Senators spoke:  Stabinow had just come from Lansing where she had been working with legislators on a strategy to get a project moving; Levin pointed out that there was an inadequate mention of benefits associated with the various suggested plans described in the report. He also asserted that the cost projections were greatly inflated.  His suggestion:  “Get to work immediately on the short term options while you work to implement the long term solution.”

There was a consensus that the report lacked passion and a sense of urgency–as well as a lack of stressing the commercial and economic value of the Lakes, a necessary point when leveraging Congress for funding. The common thread that appeared in a majority of the public comments was the need for immediate and bold action.  Several people said that Obama should issue an executive order that calls for immediate separation.

Everyone wanted the effort to be focused on the connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi basins.  Most of the speakers agreed that all sectors that stand to lose or benefit must join in funding, planning and executing a certain separation. Wastewater treatment problems along the Chicago shoreline were acknowledged several times as something that should be addressed  in whatever action is taken.

During the hour and a half of 3 minute segments of testimony–I left when they were still going strong– good statements came from reps from The Alliance, Freshwater Future, Tip o’ The Mitt, FLOW, several commercial and charter fishing organizations,.  A fishing guide said we should treat Asian Carp as though they were terrorists. Someone who has and continues to fish many of the rivers in our area, complained about the inadequacies of the barriers–after his presentation, the Army Corps Colonel gave him with his personal card, urging him to visit his office in Chicago to share lunch AND a visit to one of the barriers.”

Public comments on the GLMRIS will be accepted by the Corps at the remaining meetings or in writing until March 3, according to the website linked above.

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