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Posted 1/31/2013

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By Carol Labashosky


he Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District held a public meeting for the Eagle Marsh Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Controls Report at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., Dec. 4. The Eagle Marsh ANS Controls Report is an interim Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) report, which concludes that the threat of interbasin spread of ANS across Eagle Marsh warrants prompt action. Overall, the purpose of the report and the public meeting were to advance implementation of permanent preventive measures efficiently and effectively.

The Eagle Marsh Controls Report addresses a complex set of conditions in two areas: hydrologic engineering and ANS biology. Throughout the study process, the Corps reached out to federal and state natural resources agencies for data and expertise to support the study.

An interagency group met at Eagle Marsh approximately two years ago and decided that the immediate risk for spread of Asian carp into the Maumee River basin warranted quick action. Consequently, Indiana Department of Natural Resources with federal financial and technical support promptly designed and erected a temporary barrier to prevent that from happening. The report points out that ANS are not limited to the Asian carp—which often times the public assumes—but other species and an especially virulent viral hemorrhagic species virus (VHS). A permanent barrier at Eagle Marsh will have to consider interbasin transfer of multiple ANS.

During the open house, easels with large graphic depictions of the alternatives were on display in the foyer and Louisville staff answered questions from the public. Following the open house, Louisville District Commander Col. Luke Leonard opened the meeting and introduced John Goss, White House Council on Environmental Quality. Goss described the overall study efforts and his role as the Chairman of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, a team of federal, state and local agencies working together to prevent Asian carp from establishing populations in the Great Lakes. Leonard recognized all the stakeholders who contributed to the study.

Program Manager Jack Drolet, Lakes and Rivers Division (LRD), provided an overview of GLMRIS and other aquatic pathways under study along the basin divide. Louisville District project team members who presented were Project Engineer Bonnie Jennings, Project Engineer Mike Saffran, LRD; Biologist Jesse Helton; Hydraulic Engineer Ken Lamkin; and Drolet. The team described in detail the ANS of concern and gave a short synopsis of each of the nine alternatives. The presentation highlighted the project with visuals, maps, photographs, descriptions and identification of the species that pose threats. Fifty members of the public attended the meeting, which was broadcast on the Internet for those who could not attend.

Handouts and links to resources such as the project web sites, social media sites and newsletters about ANS and GLMRIS were provided. "The goal here is to continue to communicate our on-going work," said Drolet.

A question and answer session moderated by Goss followed the briefing. "Questions mainly focused on several desirable alternatives that provided hydrologic separation between the two basins while maintaining the visual aesthetics of Eagle Marsh," said Nate Moulder, project manager.

A few comments requested that the Corps consider potential flood impacts should any of the alternatives be implemented near the downtown area, Fort Wayne wastewater treatment plant and individual property.

A question was raised about future plans for the study, its existing authority and whether additional legislation and funds would be needed from Congress to continue. The Corps’ consensus was that authority and appropriation along with the designation of a local sponsor might be in order to continue the project.

ANS Asian Carp GLMRIS