Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced several provisions within the omnibus appropriations bill that would increase the environmental health of the Great Lakes Region by addressing the threat of Asian carp and increasing the resources for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“This is a significant step in the right direction to preserve the natural beauty of the Great Lakes for future generations,” Senator Gillibrand said. “By addressing the Asian carp invasion and supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we can strengthen the health of our lakes, and the health of our economy.”
The federal funding bill addresses the Asian carp threat on two fronts. First by providing $3.5 million to the Department of Interior to prevent the spread of Asian carp, and second by authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to take emergency measures to stop an imminent threat of Asian carp between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes.
The bill also allocates up to $300 million to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program for fiscal year 2014. This is an increase from the sequestered levels in fiscal year 2013 of $284 million.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has leveraged the resources and expertise of 11 agencies across the federal government to collaborate on improving the health of Great Lakes ecosystems by:
- Cleaning up Areas of Concern;
- Reducing nutrients entering the Lakes; and
- Preventing the introduction of new invasive species.
As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Gillibrand has made the protection of New York’s waters a priority. Senator Gillibrand was an original cosponsor of the STOP Asian Carp Act in 2012 and The Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp Act in 2010. In addition, to initiate agency action and draw attention to the problem, she has sent letters to the Army Corps of Engineers calling on them to implement structures to eliminate the carp’s ability to spread.
Senator Gillibrand also worked to pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013, which included language Senator Gillibrand fought for to set aside 20 percent of new funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes. This funding will be used to dredge and maintain low-use and small harbors along the Great Lakes that have not been fully maintained by the Corps of Engineers due to a lack of funding.
Asian Carp are detrimental to the Great Lake ecosystem because they can grow to be as heavy as 100 pounds and as long as four feet. Because of their massive size and equally big appetite, they have the potential to eliminate entire populations of fish within the Great Lakes thereby putting a $7 billion industry at risk.