Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced efforts by Great Lakes attorneys general to expand their coalition to combat invasive species. DeWine joined attorneys general from New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in sending a letter to 25 other states asking them to join in demanding immediate action by federal authorities to develop a permanent barrier halting the spread of and damage caused by aquatic invasive species.
"Lake Erie, like so many Midwestern waterways, is especially susceptible to invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels. As a long-time advocate for the preservation of the Great Lakes and Ohio waterways, I know it is of vital importance that our region unites to stop the advancement of all invasive species," said Attorney General DeWine.
Invasive species are species of plants and animals not native to a particular habitat. When introduced to new habitats, they can cause extensive damage to the existing ecosystem. Many aquatic invasive species were brought to the Great Lakes in ocean water discharged by ships.
The coalition led by the Great Lakes attorneys general is requesting the federal government develop a permanent ecological separation at the conjunction of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins, which occurs at the Chicago Area Waterway System.
A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified the canal as the major pathway for the spread of invasive species. The Corps released a list of 40 aquatic invasive species with the highest risk of traveling through the waterway; 30 are high-risk to the Mississippi River Basin, and ten, including Asian carp, are high-risk to the Great Lakes Basin.
"As United States Senator, I introduced both the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act and the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act to address invasive species attacking Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes.
As Attorney General, I am committed to continue preserving waterways and indigenous wildlife for the use and enjoyment of generations of future Ohioans. We must halt the progress of aquatic invasive species across this country, and I call on my fellow attorneys general to join in this important cause," Attorney General DeWine said.
A copy of the letter can be found online at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/InvasiveSpeciesLetter.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn