A significant step has been taken toward protecting the Upper Mississippi River above the Twin Cities from invasive carp.
President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday, June 10, that will close the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock to boat traffic. Located in downtown Minneapolis, the lock is the northern-most navigational structure on the Mississippi River. Closure will help keep invasive carp, such as bighead and silver carp, from reaching Mille Lacs Lake and other important waters north of the Twin Cities.
The Department of Natural Resources would like to thank Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota’s congressional members who supported this provision. They include Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Reps. Keith Ellison, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz.
Klobuchar and Ellison were the original authors of the bill. Nolan played a critical role in getting the provision through the House committee process and championed it in conference committee.
Dayton has also been a leader in bringing the issue of invasive carp to the public’s attention and pursuing protections for Minnesota’s waters.
“Closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock is the single biggest and most important step Minnesota can take to keep invasive carp out of the Upper Mississippi River watershed, including Mille Lacs Lake,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “This will protect our local economies and outdoor heritage in the north-central part of the state.”
The DNR anticipates the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city of Minneapolis will work with affected parties to ensure timely and efficient closure. Under the new law, the Corps has up to one year to close the lock.
While lock closure will prevent carp from swimming upstream, there still exists the risk of humans introducing carp into the Upper Mississippi River watershed, despite the fact it is illegal to transport invasive carp. The DNR will continue its education and enforcement efforts to minimize this risk.
Landwehr said closing the lock will allow the DNR to reallocate its resources to other ongoing invasive carp prevention priorities.
Those efforts include: creating several barrier projects in southwestern Minnesota to keep invasive carp from coming in through the Missouri River system; and working with the University of Minnesota Invasive Species Research Center to limit or slow the carps’ spread through the lower locks and dams to protect other parts of the Mississippi River and important tributaries like the St. Croix and Minnesota rivers.