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The Alliance joins more than a dozen Illinois organizations today in announcing the formation of a new coalition committed to stopping the two-way transfer of invasive species -- including Asian carp -- between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.
HWS was formed in response to the need for Illinois residents and organizations to promote locally focused solutions, rather than wait for federal agencies and regionally contentious lawsuits.“HWS exists to complement the work of federal and state agencies, while recognizing the importance of local action to help move issues like invasive species forward when they are stalled by outside forces,” said Jared Teutsch, water quality advocate for the Alliance, which is a founding member of the new Healthy Water Solutions coalition.
“We encourage the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and other governmental groups to work with the rest of the region to fashion a modern solution to the growing problems of invasive species and decaying water infrastructure,” he said.The new coalition will advocate for reinvestment in the Chicago River system, a critical piece of infrastructure that affects the waters of the entire state.
“Stopping Asian carp and other invasive species is an economic and ecological imperative,” said Robert Hirschfeld of Prairie Rivers Network, also a HWS founding member. “But it is also just one piece of a greater plan for improved water quality, flood control, recreation and transportation in Illinois.”
Invasive species protection promises to provide benefits to Chicago and Lake Michigan, as well as businesses and communities around the state.“As the mayor of Plano and a professional fisherman, I feel it is imperative we protect our waterways from all invasive species,” said Bob Hausler.
Invasive species cost the economy hundreds of millions annually. The spread of Asian carp threatens the Great Lakes fishery -- calculated at $7 billion annually, with billions more generated through tourism and recreation."At 95,000 square miles, the largest surface area of freshwater in the world is in peril,” said Mike Clifford of the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance. “Time is of the essence to make certain the critical environmental and economic resources of this region are provided the common-sense solutions the basin’s 35 million people are counting on."
Tom Lindblade, president and safety chairman of the Illinois Paddling Council, agreed. “We know the carp are just a symptom of the much larger problem of invasive species, some of which are relatively benign but, over time, do very serious damage by slowly eliminating natives.”
Though Asian carp are the public face of invasive species, they are among 39 species labeled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as “high-risk” to transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and inflict significant damage to new habitat.
HWS re-envisions the Chicago River as a system that not only prevents the transfer of all aquatic invaders, including Asian carp, but better serves its functions of moving people and goods and managing stormwater -- all while improving water quality.
HWS will work with the region’s leaders on a plan for separation that satisfies public needs without severing Chicago’s vital connection to the lake.Supporters can sign up as members on HWS’ website, visit the coalition on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter, @H20_Solutions. Current members of Healthy Water Solutions: Alliance for the Great LakesCity of Plano, IllinoisDirk’s FishEnvironment IllinoisFaith in PlaceFriends of the Chicago RiverIllinois Paddling CouncilIllinois Smallmouth AllianceIzaak Walton League of AmericaLeague of Women Voters of IllinoisNational Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense CouncilPrairie Rivers NetworkSierra Club, Illinois ChapterTrout Unlimited, Illinois Council
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