Congresswoman McCollum's Statement on National Invasive Species Awareness Week
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize this week as National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
The National Invasive Species Awareness Week is an opportunity to learn about invasive species in our communities and the risk they pose to our environments, economy, and native wildlife. These non-native plants, animals, and other microorganisms are costing our local communities, states, and the federal government millions of dollars each year. One species of concern for my district is Asian Carp.
If left unchecked, Asian Carp will destroy local ecosystems and potentially risk thousands of jobs in my home state of Minnesota. Since the 1970s, this environmental-invader has overwhelmed the Mississippi watershed. Asian Carp now threatens an estimated 10,000 lakes and 92,000 miles of rivers and streams in Minnesota. Jumping almost ten feet in the air, they pose a real hazard to boaters and fishermen. Our state is not alone in the devastating effects of this invasive species. Communities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin have all been affected by Asian Carp.
Earlier this year, I re-introduced the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act (H.R. 358) along with Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA). Effectively combatting this serious problem requires the federal government to be an equal partner, engaged with our states and local communities. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have introduced an identical version - S. 125.
Our legislation will hold federal agencies accountable and improve their coordination with local authorities to slow the spread of Asian Carp. The bill would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lead a new multi-agency effort that includes the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a coordinated strategy that supports on-going state and regional efforts as well as provide high-level technical assistance, best practices, and other resources.
Ongoing work by the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Commission, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, non-governmental organizations, our Canadian partners, and regional efforts demonstrate a broad recognition of the scope of this threat. However, no federal strategy currently exists to protect the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins and tributaries from this destructive, invasive species.
The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act has the endorsement of several national wide organizations such as Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, National Parks Conservation Association, and B.A.S.S.
Last year, taxpayers paid an estimated $100 million for the control of Asian Carp. We will continue to waste taxpayer dollars without a national strategy that targets our resources, invests in new solutions, and coordinates ongoing, effective efforts to slow the spread of Asian Carp.