Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and natural resources, is hailing a significant funding win in the battle against invasive Asian carp.
“Federal legislators have stepped up again to authorize projects in Tennessee’s fight against Asian carp, which are destroying native species and harming local economies,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA) was passed by Congress, as part of an omnibus package, on Monday, December 21.
WRDA is a set of laws periodically updated to deal with water issues such as environmental needs, flood control, and navigation.
This year’s version includes authorization of $25 million for projects dedicated to managing and preventing the spread of Asian carp in the Tennessee and Cumberland river basins. The Act does not specify barriers be used, but these are widely viewed as the leading method for limiting the movement of Asian carp. The funds have not yet been appropriated.
This single authorization could reasonably support three to five barriers that often use combinations of sound, light, bubbles, and other technologies. One such barrier is currently being tested at the Barkley Dam, separating the Cumberland river basin from the Ohio River.
“These barriers are an essential part of the block and tackle method of managing Asian carp,” said Frank Fiss, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s chief of fisheries. “We have observed very little reproduction by carp in the Tennessee River, especially upstream of Kentucky Lake. Throughout the valley, steady immigration from downstream reservoirs is the greatest concern, and this is a problem that we can control with barriers.”
The Act also authorized establishing an Asian Carp Eradication Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If funded, it will provide $4 million a year for 2021 through 2025. Priority will be given to states in the Tennessee and Cumberland River watersheds.
“Tennessee Wildlife Federation is proud of its contributions to securing these funds and extends a thank you to the many groups and people involved in this legislation, particularly Senators Alexander and McConnell as well as Congressmen Kustoff, Burchett, Rose, Roe, Cooper and Cohen—and their dedicated staff,” said Butler. “The Federation has been working with leaders across the Southeast and creating a place for collaboration that helped lead to this win.”
The Federation also led a multi-state coalition that resulted in expanded Asian carp funding in early 2020. To learn more about Asian carp and the dangers they pose to fish, waters, and Tennesseans, visit tnwf.org/AsianCarp
National Wildlife Federation produced a short film that explores the many threats Asian carp pose. Watch Against the Current at tnwf.org/FightCarp