Funds presented to battle invasives

MARQUETTE — Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger on Tuesday confirmed the commitment of $8 million in state funds for the preconstruction, engineering and design phase of a multifaceted barrier system to prevent invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

In a Nov. 4 letter to Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Eichinger explained the funds were appropriated as non-federal match for design of a system of structural and non-structural control measures at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Illinois. Brandon Road is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp — the Asian carp species of greatest concern — out of the Great Lakes.

Taking action at Brandon Road took on added urgency with the Nov. 1 announcement that 76 of 414 water samples from waters connected to Lake Michigan — and well beyond Brandon Road Lock and Dam — tested positive for environmental DNA for invasive carp. Forty-nine of the water samples from the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River, also known as Bubbly Creek, were positive for silver carp eDNA, while 27 were positive for bighead carp eDNA.

Although no live invasive carp were found in the recent sampling, the results showed far more invasive carp eDNA than had previously been discovered in these waters, prompting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources along with partner agencies to undertake additional surveillance for the presence of invasive carp.