Despite our best efforts, grass carp are likely here

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Grass carp are coming. Oh, no it can’t be true. Unfortunately, it is probably true. With all the national news focusing on the Chicago River blocking the fish from getting into Lake Michigan, as a key point of entry for the grass carp, the fish could also find their way into the Great Lakes by other routes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a watershed boundary study of the Great Lakes in the United States all the way from Minnesota to New York State and determined there are a number of potential points of concern.Three of which occur in Northeast Ohio.

First is the northern section of Mosquito Reservoir (Trumbull County) drainage area, the second is in the Portage Lakes (Summit County) drainage area and the third is in the Lodi (Medina County ) drainage area.

Each potential location was evaluated for their risk factor of translocation of the nuisance species. All three locations are receiving attention from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, ODNR, as to what are the precise conditions for the fish to escape into the Lake Erie Watershed.

Medina County

In our case in Medina County,  a “medium risk” ranking score was determined in the Lodi area. The Division of Wildlife is working with our Soil and Water Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to formulate potential solutions and to bridge the gap between a local landowner or landowners with the state and federal concern.

An additional piece to all of this is the concern for other aquatic creatures besides the grass carp from translocating between the Lake Erie drainage basin and the Ohio River drainage basin.

This two-way portal problem is the crux of the matter for which the eyes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Division of Wildlife are upon us in Medina County.

According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the pathway for the grass carp is already in play as they have been identified moving up the Mississippi River into the Ohio River.Invasive species. Lake Erie already has several notable invasive species in the lake. Zebra Mussels, Quagga Mussels, Round Gobi fish, Water fleas, Sea Lamprey and even the white perch.

The solution for the grass carp and other undesireables from entering the Great Lakes or the Ohio River is going to have to be a long-term fix. The corrective actions implemented at the three locations will be a first line of defense.

My fear is, us humans will turn out to be the villans in the end. For more information, visit the websites forthe Ohio Sea Grant program or the Ohio Division of Wildlife, by Googling those terms.

About the Author

Jeff is the District Manager for the Medina SWCD since 2006. Before that he was an area representative with the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation through out Northeast Ohio for most of his career. He worked closely with District Boards of Supervisors and staffs on programs and capacity building. More Stories by Jeff Van Loon

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