November 20, 2009

Asian Carp At Great Lakes' Door

Bad news this week from the team trying to keep destructive alien fish species out of the Great Lakes - there is new evidence that asian carp may have made it to the brink of Lake Michigan - O'Brien Lock and Dam on the Calumet River.

Today's news:
New eDNA Monitoring Results Spurs Rapid Response Action

(Chicago) -- On November 17, the University of Notre Dame notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that some water samples, taken from the area between the electric barriers and Lake Michigan on September 23 and October 1, tested positive for the presence of Asian carp. The positive samples were from an area about one mile south of the O'Brien Lock, approximately 8 miles from Lake Michigan.

As part of its ongoing Asian carp monitoring program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to work with the university to use eDNA genetic testing of water samples to monitor the presence of bighead and silver carp in Chicago area waterways.

"Keeping Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan remains the focus and goal of the IDNR and the Rapid Response Work Group. We will continue to work with the group and our partners on how best to address this new issue and move forward with achieving our overall goal," said IDNR Assistant Director John Rogner.

The multi-agency rapid response team is working to develop appropriate courses of action based on this new information. Initial response actions will include focusing Asian carp eDNA sampling and other monitoring efforts on areas upstream of the barrier to gather near real-time data on the current location of Asian carp to aid the Rapid Response team in their planning efforts.

The Rapid Response Work Group is finalizing plans to apply rotenone to a section of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in early December as part of a scheduled fish barrier maintenance shut down.

“Scheduled barrier maintenance will proceed as planned,” said Major General John W. Peabody, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. “This new information reinforces the importance of preventing any further intrusion of the Asian carp via the largest pathway, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.”

Additional information about the recent sampling efforts is available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' website at www.lrc.usace.army.mil.

Additional information about Asian carp and the Rapid Response Work Group members is at www.asiancarp.org/rapidresponse.
There are not a lot of good options available at this point. All options are not certain to succeed, and also have negative side effects. Still, it seems we have little choice than to keep all options on the table to try to keep these voracious predators out of Lake Michigan and our Great Lakes.

November 13, 2009

Video: Weatherizing Chicago

Recently we participated in an event in Chicago to celebrate National Weatherization Day (haven't seen the greeting card for that one yet!). The purpose was to raise awareness among homeowners that there are major new resources available for cutting your energy use and utility bills, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA is putting people to work in these programs all over the country. In Cook County, the Community Economic Development Association of Cook County, or CEDA, is the agency providing the jobs and the services. Other community action agencies are implementing similar programs elsewhere in Illinois.

Here's some highlights from National Weatherization Day event at an apartment building in Chicago's Austin community:

video

The jobs and energy savings being created through ARRA funding is especially exciting here in Illinois, where we recently won a great victory for funding this important work. As part of the state capital spending plan approved by the General Assembly this year, $425 million was budgeted for weatherization programs in the future. Those dollars will be available after the federal ARRA funding has been spent, allowing Illinois to sustain the changes, jobs, and energy savings initiated by federal funding well into the future.

We're also proud of the fact that we passed state legislation this year to require state-of-the-art buidling codes for energy efficiency statewide, so in the decades ahead, new Illinois buildings will be energy efficient from the beginning.

Green jobs are here now, and more are on the way!