Anderson: Close locks before Asian carp infestation grows

  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 1:30 AM

Waiting this long to close locks on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

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The lock at Ford Dam in St. Paul on Tuesday with gates open not only for boats, but for possible infestations of Asian carp.

Photo: Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com,

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Waiting this long to close some combination of the Upper or Lower St. Anthony locks, or the lock at Ford Dam, on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters, is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

Every day the locks stay open, the state’s inaction is dumber still.

Or so it seemed Tuesday while passing through the three locks in a small fishing boat, drifting downstream first through the Upper St. Anthony Lock, then the Lower, and finally the lock at Ford Dam.

Each is an engineering marvel that every day pumps unimaginable amounts of water into the locks, then out again, allowing passage of a relative handful of pleasure boats and a few barges carrying sand, gravel and scrap metal.

But an engineering degree isn’t required to see the ease with which the evil Asian carp can tag along as these boats move upstream and down — not just through Minneapolis, but thereafter Coon Rapids and beyond, before setting their sights on the Rum River and Lake Mille Lacs.

Should that happen — and it will if action isn’t taken soon — the state’s water-based character will be lost forever, as Asian carp, including the jumping silver carp, take hold in lakes and rivers that historically have helped define who we are as a people.

Then it’s bye-bye sport fishing.

Bye-bye also pleasure boating.

And bye-bye the billions of dollars these and related activities contribute to the state’s economy.

Credit Democrat U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis for his persistent attempts to persuade Congress to close one or more of the locks, also Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and others in the state’s congressional delegation.

But so far, their efforts haven’t succeeded.

This morning, a poll will be released in the Twin Cities by the National Wildlife Federation indicating that Minnesotans’ patience has run thin with the glacial pace with which Congress has considered this important matter.

Realizing the state has everything to lose and nothing to gain if it leaves the locks open, Minnesotans, according to the poll, want action.

Said Lance Ness, president of Minnesota Anglers for Habitat, in remarks prepared for a news conference this morning announcing the poll:

“We implore Congress to act as quickly as they can to address this import issue, before it is too late.

“The economic impact of Minnesota fishing exceeds $4.7 billion per year when adjusted for expenditures on gas, lodging, and the services purchased by fishing related business. It is an incomparable economic driver.”

Want to help?

Get off the couch. Write or call your congressional representatives.

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