Henry County is located on Kentucky Lake and is known for its robust fishing and boating scene. But when Asian carp found their way into the lake, former county mayor Brent Greer knew the presence of this invasive species would have a serious and detrimental impact on his community.
“It has actually changed our lake and our fishery more than anything I’ve ever seen happen to it. In the last 15 years, our lake has gone from being one of the top 10 lakes in the country to a recovery lake,” said Brent.
Efforts to fight Asian carp began decades ago when the Federation along with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency began to discuss the best science and strategies to combat carp. “I think the Federation sunk their teeth into this early on and realized we had a real issue on our hands,” said Brent. “[Federation CEO] Michael has been a champion for our cause, helping us get the funding we need on a local basis to deal with it.”
In 2019, the Federation worked hand-in-hand with lawmakers to increase the appropriation to $25 million (an increase from $14 million) to fight carp and for the first time make it available to Southeast states, including Tennessee. In 2020, funds from the appropriation were used to deter and limit the fish’s movement, contract fishing and commercial fishing incentives, and research more ways to control Asian carp.
Our lake has gone from being one of the top 10 lakes in the country to a recovery lake.
The Federation has been working at the local, state, and federal levels to build relationships with lake and river adjacent communities and strengthen partnerships with conservation groups throughout the Southeast to fight Asian carp.
Carlton Gerrell, mayor of Paris, Tennessee, has been participating in the Federation’s Asian carp calls—where representatives, legislators, and experts from neighboring states discuss ongoing efforts and exchange best strategies to fight carp.
“The voice that’s created through Tennessee Wildlife Federation is helping to bring awareness. We need that voice in Washington and also in the state legislature to say we’ve got a problem here and understand this problem is more than just fish,” said Carlton.
Collaboration is at the heart of finding the long-term solutions to combat Asian carp. Through innovative ideas, perseverance, and willingness to work across all barriers, the Federation is leading the way in this fight to protect Tennessee’s prized rivers, lakes, and waterways.