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By Joel Brammeier
Alliance President, CEO
Concern about the Asian carp’s march to the Great Lakes motivated nearly 8,000 Wisconsin residents to join a virtual town hall forum on Asian carp to learn what they could do to help thwart the nasty invasive species.
I was honored to be invited as the featured expert on the November call, hosted by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. After giving an overview of the Asian carp situation and outlining the imperative to separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River to keep the destructive fish out of Lake Michigan, I took questions for nearly an hour.
Tom Stolp, WLCV field director, said the town hall "was truly a historic opportunity for the conservation community."
"To my knowledge, this is the first time the state of Wisconsin's conservation community has employed the tactic of a statewide telephone forum -- to tremendous success," he says. "In one hour we talked with, interacted with -- via telephone survey -- thousands of citizens and communicated very timely and compelling information."
Talk about an inspiration: here were individuals at home, true volunteers giving an hour of their valuable weeknight time to chat about a fish. The caliber of the questions made it obvious the public is paying sharp attention to what is arguably the most pressing problem facing the Great Lakes today.
And I cannot overstate how valuable that time is. Given the lack of urgency I’ve seen in moving toward separation thus far, it’s imperative the public continues to remind decision makers and elected officials that keeping the Great Lakes free of breeding Asian carp is job one.
Once established in the Great Lakes, the voracious filter-feeding, fast-growing carp could quickly dominate the coasts and rivers that feed the lakes, gobbling up the same food that sustains native fish populations and potentially devastating the region's $7 billion fishing industry. Permanently separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin, where the fish are now, is the only guaranteed way to stop their northward migration to the lakes.
This town hall was a tour de force in putting technology to work to protect our waters, and I look forward to using it again and again to give the thousands who care about the Great Lakes a voice in their protection. Until then, you can still speak out to stop the carp at the Alliance’s Great Lakes Action Center.
Invitations to join the WLCV’s first-ever statewide town hall were extended to Wisconsin residents in three key congressional districts. Callers were encouraged to send their congressman a postcard asking that they direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately begin working to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins.
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