Mike Weimer, Senior Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
USFWS and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act
On June 10th of last year, the President signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-121), which included direction from Congress to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lead a multiagency effort to slow the spread of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River basins, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Specifically, WRRDA called for the Service to develop and deliver a report to Congress summarizing all activities and expenditures (both federal and non-federal) related to Asian carp prevention efforts in the two watersheds over the previous two years, as well as describing any observed changes in the range of Asian carp in Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River basins; research the Service's Director determined could improve the ability to control the spread of Asian carp; and quantitative measures proposed for use in documenting progress in controlling the spread of Asian carp.
To accomplish the goal of developing and delivering the first-ever report, the Service reached out to its state and federal partners conducting prevention work in the two respective basins to gather the key data needed to answer the questions posed by Congress, and to more completely summarize the myriad of activities being conducted on-the-ground. The report team, comprised of representatives from seven federal and 14 state agencies, developed this document, which represents an important baseline of information and is now being used to tell the Asian carp story in the rivers of the upper Midwest to Congress, the Administration, and other partners and stakeholders.
Following the delivery of the report to the Congressional committees in early February, the Service convened two meetings of partner agencies to facilitate further collaboration and strategy development on Asian carp prevention efforts in the two river basins. The dialogue and planning, started in Indianapolis, Indiana and Dubuque, Iowa, will be further advanced as basin-wide strategies, work plans, and projects are finalized and implemented in the coming year. Building upon recommendations in WRRDA and the report, state and federal agencies are coming together, working through existing organizations such as the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association, Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Ohio River Fisheries Management Team, and other multi-jurisdictional resource management organizations to make this a reality, moving forward in 2015 and beyond. These efforts will leverage advances in Asian carp prevention and control technologies and lessons-learned acquired through the ongoing work of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, the bi-national partnership focused on preventing the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
Looking forward, the collaborative state and federal efforts in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, Ohio River Basin, and Great Lakes will provide a holistic approach to managing Asian carp across the landscape.
By Mike Weimer, Senior Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service