UMWA Asks Corps To Restrict Recreational Lockages
The Waterways Journal
13 February 2012
By John Shoulberg
The Upper Mississippi Waterway Association is working to get the
Corps of Engineers to take a proactive stance to block the advance
of the Asian carp toward Minnesota waters, and to get recreational
boaters involved in finding a solution.
In a resolution passed in late January, the association called for
the Corps' Mississippi River Division to establish a protocol to
restrict lock openings for recreational vessels at and above Lock
19 on the river.
Lock 19, at UMR Mile 364.3 at Keokuk, Iowa, has a 39-foot lift,
which is considered high enough to keep fish from jumping over the
barrier. In its resolution, UMWA said no breeding populations of
Asian carp have been found in the Mississippi River upstream from
that point, although large numbers have been found downriver.
By restricting the number of lockages, the Corps would limit the
opportunities for carp to move northward, the association says.
The resolution calls for action much further downriver than other
control measures that have been discussed, and also involves
recreational boaters much more. UMWA noted that recreational boat
traffic represents two-thirds of all lockages on the Upper
"We know we're going to take flak for it," said Russell Eichman,
UMWA executive director. He said the association, which represents
commercial navigation interests on the Upper Miss, wants to get
recreational boaters involved in finding a solution. "The
recreational boating community has a big stake in this," he said.
Restricting recreational lockages at and above Lock 19 would
ensure that both commercial and recreational interests share the
responsibility to decrease the spread of the invasive species, he
In a UMWA newsletter to come out this week, Eichman wrote that
some Minnesota agencies have suggested completely closing
navigation locks at Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls and Lock and
Dam 1, all in the Twin Cities area.
While such a move might protect waters upstream of Minneapolis, it
wouldn't do anything to protect other major rivers of Minnesota,
such as the St. Croix and Lower Minnesota rivers, UMWA said.
In addition, it would drive cargo that moves through those locks
onto high-ways, an average of 800,000 tons a year, the association
said. If moved by trucks instead, that tonnage translates to 1,033
loaded trucks per week over the 34-week barge season, with
associated increases in traffic congestion and carbon monoxide
Also, closing the upper-river locks would mean that recreational
boaters would be confined to the navigation pools where they
launch their boats; trips between pools would not be possible. "In
2011, a total of 6,970 recreational vessels transited the three
Minneapolis locks compared with 2,996 commercial vessels," Eichman
wrote. "Clearly a large number of anglers, pleasure boaters and
boat builders will be impacted no matter if locks are closed or
have restricted access."
Eichman noted that UMWA members are active participants in
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's Asian Carp Summit, which has focused
on measures such as bubble barriers or electric barriers to
prevent Asian carp from migrating northward — measures that would
still allow commercial and recreational traffic to move.
Meanwhile, however, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is
preparing to introduce legislation that would call for the Corps
to study closure of the three Minneapolis-area locks. A draft
version of the bill calls for the Corps in consultation with the
Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, along with
other agencies — to conduct a six-month feasibility study to
assess the environmental and economic impacts of lock closures.
A section of the draft bill was very problematical for commercial
navigation, however, said Greg Genz, a river consultant who is
vice president of UMWA.
Section 5 of the draft bill says the Corps "may" close the lock at
Upper St. Anthony Falls if the secretary of the Army determines
it's justified to manage the threat of Asian carp migration. But
the draft goes on to mandate that the secretary "shall" close the
lock if any live adult Asian carp are captured above Lock and Dam
2, or if any juvenile carp are captured above Lock and Dam 4.
Genz said there's little support in the Minnesota congressional
delegation for Ellison's proposal; most members, Genz said, have
been supportive of the efforts of Dayton's Carp Summit.
UMWA said another reason for its resolution was to emphasize
what it calls the limited federal action in addressing the carp
problem. So far, federal involvement has been limited to
continuing the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study,
leaving states to battle the larger issues of identifying breeding
populations and financing construction of barriers, Eichman wrote.
An additional reason for the resolution, Eichman wrote in the UMWA
news-letter, was to "urge the Corps of Engineers to recognize that
recreational boaters are the largest users of commercial
navigation locks by a ratio of almost five to one in the St. Paul
District." The Corps, he wrote, has always said that its
authorization and funding is limited to construction and
maintenance of commercial navigation infrastructure.
"We understand and respect that limitation, and continue to
recognize the Mississippi River as a multi-use resource to be
commercially and recreationally avail-able while the search for a
solution is found and put in place."