BUFFALO, NY --
The Ohio & Erie Canal project delivery team will host a webinar October 15th at 2pm EST, to celebrate the completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project, that has the primary benefit of protecting the highly valuable commercial and recreational fisheries in Ohio and the Great Lakes.
Construction of physical barriers was initiated by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the spring of 2019 with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the ACRCC’s Asian Carp Action Plan. Close coordination of the study, design, and construction was maintained with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Summit County Metro Parks.
To join the webinar:
- Once you log in, enter a phone number and the system will call you to connect audio.
Speakers for the event include:
- Mike Weimer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Co-Chair Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
- Chris Korleski, Director EPAs Great Lakes National Program Office, Co-Chair Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee
- John Navarro, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
- Frank O’Connor, USACE Buffalo District Project Manager
Agenda for the event will be:
- Project overview presentation
- Question and answer session
“Keeping Asian carp out of Lake Erie and its tributaries is one of the most pressing challenges facing the lake. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is one of the best tools we have to clean up our lakes, improve water quality, and keep invasive species from damaging this delicate ecosystem. I applaud federal, state, and local partners for their work to build the Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project,” said US Senator Sherrod Brown, OH.
“As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I have been pleased to work with my colleagues, federal and state agencies, and local partnerships to combat the threat of invasive species, such as Asian carp, from entering the Great Lakes. Invasive species pose a huge threat to the vital Great Lakes fishing industry and I’m pleased that the Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project has been completed due in part to funds provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. We all have responsibility to protect Lake Erie and I will continue to fight at the federal level to ensure the GLRI has the funding needed in order to complete important projects like this one,” said US Senator Rob Portman, OH.
“The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious resource and it’s critical we do everything in our power to safeguard the long-term health and well-being of the world’s largest source of fresh water,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13). “Lake Erie alone supports more than 117,000 full time jobs and provides clean drinking water to three million Ohioans. I was proud to work with the Ohio Congressional Delegation and local, state and federal officials to provide the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative the funding and resources it needs to ensure the long-term health of our Great Lakes.”
"EPA is pleased to celebrate the completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project, which will help protect the commercial and recreational fisheries in Ohio and the Great Lakes. The funding we provided the US Army Corps of Engineers through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative made the construction of physical barriers possible, and is yet another example of the progress we can make in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes through a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies," said EPA Region 5 Administrator, Kurt Thiede.
"This project exemplifies how federal, state and local partners can work together to shut the door on bighead and silver carps, slowing their spread and reducing the threat to our nation's rivers, lakes and reservoirs," said Mike Weimer, a senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and co-chair of the Asian Carp Regional Committee. "We are able to point to the work completed in the Ohio & Erie Canal as a primary example of how partners are taking aggressive action to hold the line against aquatic invasive species, and in turn protecting the Great Lakes."
"Preventing aquatic invasive species, like Asian carp, moving from the Ohio River Basin into the Great Lakes Basin via the Ohio & Erie Canal is why this project was critical to protect the ecological and economic importance of the Nation's largest fresh water source," said MG Robert Whittle, USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander. "Using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, a multi-agency team made up of USACE Buffalo and Huntington district experts, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife services, and the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee pooled resources to deliver this project to construct effective physical barriers at this location that will help defend against what would be future threats to the high value of recreational and commercial fisheries in Ohio and the Great Lakes."
“We appreciate the support and cooperation of our all our partners in completing the Ohio-Erie Canal closure project to reduce the risk of invasive species such as bighead carp and silver carp from entering Lake Erie,” said ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker.
This location is one of eighteen sites outside of the Chicago Area Waterway System evaluated for their potential for transfer of species between the basins as identified in the USACE Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (2014). It is one of three sites in Ohio where steps have, or are being taken to reduce the likelihood of ANS transfer between the basins. This project is intended to reduce the probability of transfer of four ANS of concern: bighead carp, silver carp, black carp, and northern snakehead.
Ground surface elevations at most locations along this watershed were adequate to inhibit transfer of nuisance species during normal weather conditions, however, there was a potential for the basins to be connected during extreme flood events at several discrete areas along approximately a five mile stretch of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
Studies showed that the topography allowed overtopping and the construction project included raising ground surface elevations by top-dressing about 1,000 feet of the towpath, installing a 150-foot long concrete barrier, driving approximately 2,000 linear feet steel sheet pile, and installing 555 linear feet of stone-filled gabion baskets adjacent to the towpath to address these low points.
At other locations, where direct movement of aquatic nuisance species between watersheds was possible during normal flow conditions, approximately 130 linear feet of fencing and individual screens have been installed as barriers.
There is a moderate likelihood, that in the coming years, Asian carp could have the ability to move upstream from the Ohio River through the Muskingum River, then into the Tuscarawas River Watershed, and ultimately into the Great Lakes via the Ohio & Erie Canal. The presence of adult Asian carp has been confirmed in the Ohio River. Therefore, the agencies have taken proactive efforts, such as this project at the Ohio & Erie Canal, rather than a reactive approach to what could become an immediate threat.
Taking proactive steps now help us be prepared for what could eventually become a greater threat to the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes. Fortunately, environmental DNA testing of tributaries leading to this area in 2018 did not indicate that bighead and silver carp had made a turn to head upstream in this direction and this monitoring will continue. It’s important to keep them out because they are fast growing and prolific feeders capable of out-competing native fish for food and the Ohio & Erie Canal project represents a key component of the comprehensive, interagency strategy to aggressively protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp through early detection, prevention, and control.
The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), completed in 2014, determined the Ohio & Erie Canal is a medium risk connection for transfer of silver carp, bighead carp, black carp, and northern snakehead from the Mississippi River basin to the Great Lakes basin. The Ohio & Erie Canal project included design and construction of various structural measures to prevent or reduce the probability of aquatic nuisance species moving from the Tuscarawas River Watershed into the Cuyahoga River Watershed via the Ohio & Erie Canal.