ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – While it isn’t good news that US President Donald Trump didn’t include funding to build infrastracture defences that would stop invasive Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes in the US budget, a representative of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) says all is not lost.
“I don’t want to downplay the president’s budget announcement, the support for the work (reconstruction efforts at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a chokepoint on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois) is high for it to take place; it is the (US) Congress that has the final say on the budget,” stated Marc Gaden of the GLFC last Friday. “We are now working with our representatives on Congress to indicate once again how important this work and this funding is to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.”
Mr. Gaden pointed out the Asian carp project is separate from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that the president has proposed to fully fund for the first time since taking office. During a speech on January 30, President Trump promised to support the invasive species management plan as part of efforts to protect the Great Lakes.
Critics have accused the president of reneging on statements supporting the $778 million plan to fortify a critical Illinois shipping lock after details about the administration spending priorities were released, reported Michigan Live on February 11, 2020.
Mr. Gaden explained, “when the president submits his budget it begins a lengthy process. The proposal has to go to Congress, and they will be working on it during the summer—they need to get it done by October 1. What all this means is that for all those folks who want this work to be carried out (on the Brandon Road Lock Dam), they will need to raise this issue with representatives of Congress, that this work needs to be carried out.”
“The president’s budget announcement is not insignificant, but he doesn’t have the final say. His announcement is important and it is disappointing the funding wasn’t included for the work that needs to be done, but it isn’t the end of all of this,” said Mr. Gaden. “We will be spending time in Washington talking to staff and congress members to outline that this work is a priority and the funding is needed.”