‘Inaction is not an option’: Cost to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes triples


Fortifying an Illinois waterway to prevent invasive carp from using it as a path to Lake Michigan could cost nearly three times as much as federal planners previously thought, according to an updated report.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week released a final strategy plan for upgrading the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill., which experts consider a good location to block upstream movement of Asian carp that have infested the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Scientists warn that if the voracious carp become established in the Great Lakes, they could out-compete native species and harm the region’s $7-billion fishing industry.

The new plan by the corps is similar to a draft from August 2017, but the estimated price tag has jumped from $275 million to nearly $778 million

« Basically during the past year, some additional engineering and design work changed the scope to bring it up to that current cost, » Allen Marshall, spokesperson for the district office of the corps in Rock Island, Ill., said Wednesday.

The biggest increase is for building an « engineered channel » at Brandon Road. The lock-and-dam complex is on the Des Plaines River, which forms part of the waterway link between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, a tributary of the Mississippi.

Asian carp first started showing up in North America in the 1970s, when they were brought in for the aquaculture industry in the U.S. and for the live food fish industry in Canada. (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

Under the plan, the channel would contain devices, including an electric barrier, noisemakers and an air bubble curtain to deter fish from swimming upstream and remove those that don’t turn back. The adjacent lock would be retooled to flush away unwanted species floating on the water.

The draft had proposed using water jets to dislodge fish that might be stunned or caught in gaps between barges. But the new version says a better method would be generating a continuous, dense curtain of air bubbles in the channel.

The army corps is accepting public comments through Dec. 24 and expects to submit the plan to Congress in February. Its timetable envisions congressional authorization and initial funding next year and the signing of building contracts by July 2020, with work completed by March 2027.

Several states that border the lakes, including Michigan and Illinois, agreed previously to discuss sharing the costs. The escalating price could complicate those negotiations.

Carp have infested much of the Mississippi River basin and are threatening to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes through rivers and canals. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

« Now that the cost has nearly tripled to $778 million, we need to have a better understanding of how this project, with all the proposed components, actually reduces the risk of Asian carp and other invasive species getting into our Great Lakes in a fiscally responsible manner, » said Ed Cross, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Tammy Newcomb, water policy adviser for the Michigan DNR, acknowledged feeling « sticker shock, » but said it shouldn’t derail the project.

« Given the costs of Asian carp invading our Great Lakes, inaction is not an option, » said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force.

Carp are filter feeders, which means they eat the base of the aquatic food chain. This starves out native fish species. (CBC)

Illinois officials and business groups have questioned the need to drastically re-engineer the lock and dam, particularly if it would slow barge traffic on the busy commercial waterway.

Lynn Muench, a senior vice-president of the American Waterways Operators, which represents barge companies, said the army corps report sidesteps whether Asian carp are likely to reach Lake Michigan in sufficient numbers to thrive. It also has no cost-benefit analysis of the proposed deterrents, she said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists were concerned that the army corps budget for next year includes no money for pre-construction engineering and design work to get things moving.

« How serious is the Trump administration about getting this project constructed if they haven’t put the necessary funding in to keep it moving on schedule? » said Molly Flanagan, a vice-president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.


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Eagle feather now an option at Lethbridge Courthouse when taking oath or affirmation – Lethbridge


It was a day of firsts at the Lethbridge Courthouse. Members of the First Nations community gathered to bring a part of their culture to the judicial process in southern Alberta.

“Some people may see it as something small, but it’s actually a big thing,” said Tony Delaney with the Kainai Peacemaking Program. “To be able to smudge here in the courthouse, it’s never happened and for people to witness that and participate in that as well.”

The smudge was part of a ceremony, blessing an eagle feather gifted by Travis Plaited Hair to both the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court of Alberta in Lethbridge.

“It will replace a bible, a Koran, the old testament, whatever someone may use as an instrument to bind their testimony to tell the truth,” said Justice Jim Langston with the Court of Queen’s Bench.

There are other areas in Canada that have an eagle feather in their courthouses, but this is a first for Alberta’s south region.

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“It’s long overdue and there is much that we can learn from their culture and their practices, and it was an opportunity among many others, that we are trying to begin where their culture can be brought in our courthouse, our justice system in a way that is respectful,” added assistant chief judge with the Provincial Court of Alberta.

There are seven courthouses in the south region and provincial court judge Derek Redman added that he hopes the feather in Lethbridge is the first of many in courthouses in the area.

“My dream would be to have a feather like that in every courthouse. This one, we may have to move around but this ceremony was a ceremony to introduce the eagle feather into the southern region, and so once we have acquired enough blessed feathers, my hope is that we would have it in every courthouse.”

Organizers called the feather another step towards truth and reconciliation in southern Alberta.

Alberta government signs Jordan’s Principle agreement with feds, First Nations group

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Eagle feathers now an option for legal affirmations in N.S. a courts – Halifax


Indigenous people appearing in Nova Scotia courthouses now have the option to take legal affirmations with a sacred eagle feather.

The Nova Scotia Judiciary says each main courthouse in the province will have one eagle feather for courtroom use and a second for the front counter.

READ MORE: N.S. RCMP, provincial courts to allow people to swear oaths with eagle feathers

It says those taking legal affirmations may hold the eagle feather, or have it placed in front of them, while affirming to tell the truth much in the same way a Bible is available to swear an oath.

Individuals are also permitted to bring their own eagle feather with them to court.

Chief Paul Prosper of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs says the eagle feather is “a sacred part” of Indigenous spirituality.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia set to mark grand opening of Indigenous court

Nova Scotia Chief Justice Michael MacDonald says introducing the feather will help ensure a more inclusive and relevant legal system for Indigenous people, and is another step toward reconciliation.


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