The Big Story Blog

More trucks on highway if carp closes Mississippi locks?

Posted at 1:39 PM on October 21, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

If the silver carp really has made its way up the Mississippi, it has to be seen as a threat to other species and to the Upper Mississippi's $100 million a year sport fishing business.

But there's also a cost to keeping the carp at bay.

MPR News reporter Tim Nelson writes today that, say, closing the Ford Dam locks to shipping could put thousands of more trucks on Minnesota roads.

He also interviewed Greg Genz, vice president with the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association, a group that represents business and recreational river users. Genz put some additional detail to the issue.

He said some 200 jobs could be affected if the locks were to close. He also reinforced the idea that the materials now barged down the river from the Twin Cities would end up on a lot of trucks.

Stephen Ettinger, president of Northern Metal Recycling in the Twin Cities agreed.

His company ships hundreds of barges a year down the Mississippi. Closing down commercial traffic on the river would mean the company would be loading and putting 75 semi-trailers on the highways for each barge that couldn't go down the river, he tells Nelson.

Ettinger favors putting in anti-carp defenses at the Coon Rapids dam. It'd be the most effective point to stop the carp from making it to the Mississippi's central Minnesota fishery and would still allow commercial barge traffic in The Cities.

"Having companies like ours that our environmental stewards in the recycling business....I can't imagine why you wouldn't want us on the river," he said. adding that people who would advocate shutting the locks have little idea of the added pollution of trucks carrying material now shipped by barge.

Genz also talked about the loss of the river as an amenity for recreational boaters if the locks close. Access will become more limited.

Boaters "will be able to get down here and look at it but they won't have many opportunities to get on it....if they do get on it it'll be small stretches of the river that they can get on."

National Park Service biologist Byron Karns, left, checks the slack water in the auxiliary lock at the Ford Dam in late September for DNA traces of invasive carp. He was joined by Christina Wille and Stan Zobel. Testing by an Indiana lab has confirmed the carp's presence at the lock and dam. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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