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E-DEMOCRACY | Invasive carp changing river traffic from St. Anthony Falls on up
Bill Kahn Posted at 8:11pm, May 15
Cam Gordons 2nd Ward newsletter and papers relate that
> Saint Anthony Lock to Close. Senator Amy Klobuchar and the Minnesota congressional delegation have won passage of a bipartisan provision to keep invasive carp out of Minnesotas waterways by closing the Upper Saint Anthony Lock. This action was included in final water infrastructure conference bill, which will now go to the full Senate and House of Representatives for final approval. It is expected to pass. This is a huge victory for Minnesota. It will protect the Mississippi and all of its tributaries north of Minneapolis from this invasive species that has done such damage to ecosystems downstream. I want to thank Senator Klobuchar and the delegation for their work to achieve this tremendous success.
I guess if this stands, Crown Hydro will be back with an Army Corps of Engineers deal to use the lock for their turbine (Does that stop carp? Maybe not.), and the sand and scrap metal and other companies depending on barges above the St. Anthony Falls, will be history. Looks like mainly three companies using barges above the Falls.
The aggregates seem to be the biggest loss, but it seems like it would be more of a shift with aggregate coming to users (mainly concrete ready mix operations) from the north and south, although we would certainly lose some local jobs.
Jay Clark Posted at 3:54pm, May 16
Given the threat of the Asian carp, closing the lock is probably a necessity. But I LOVE seeing the barges going up and down the river, and I think our city is losing a piece of its character with the loss of the barges. I have also seen articles on the city losing money on the upper port, and it probably makes economic sense to close the site. But I worry about the erosion of decent blue collar jobs in the city
Connie Sullivan Posted at 8:30pm, May 16
Since the 1850s [yes, 164 years], Minneapolis has been trying to pretend that riverboat traffic belongs on the shallow above-the-falls Mississippi River. It's very shallor there; most times of the year you can wade it, if the lock's dam wasn't there. Pioneers even carried boats in portage on their shoulders up over St. Anthony Falls at one early point! Nothing worked to extend river traffic north, until the falls were destroyed and the current lock and dam were constructed. Even now, what goes north of Minneapolis is mostly small recreational boat traffic.
The very few businesses left on the Upper River have known for at least a dozen or more years that Minneapolis could make something much more successful of the upper riverbanksthan a scrap metal firm and a gravel purveyor. They didn't know what, but those folks saw the handwriting on the wall. I had the luck to be part of a huge party of locals who were invited to see the river from one of the gravel-mover companies' barges in 2002 or 2003; the invitation was made as an attempt to persuade local officials not to close the lock (or make other land-use plans for above the falls). They made a pitch for their businesses as we floated down to the Ford Dam.
The horrific effects on Minnesota businesses that would come if the Asian carp gets above the falls immensely outweigh any concern for the several dozen jobs in a waning industry or twoon the upper riverbank that have other options. I just hope the congressional action isn't coming too late. And that Chicago gets off its dime, too!
Como, in East Minneapolis
Alan Muller Posted at 3:38pm, May 17
This is a good example of the real cost of our paralyzed political systems. It seems pretty clear that no action will be taken until breeding populations of Asian carp are indisputably established upstream. In other words, until it's too late to matter. Then, the businesses can legitimately say "why bother now?"
Climate change, the air quality crises in China, the effect of toxins on the behavior of urban young people, the disastrous effects of starting foreign wars ... all are predictable but we don't have the collective ability, most of the time, to act pro-actively.
Dave Stack Posted at 11:50pm, May 17
The articles I read only talked about the Upper St. Anthony Lock being proposed to close. Does anyone know if this will also apply to the Lower St. Anthony Lock and the Ford Dam Lock? If barges can no longer use the Upper St. Anthony Lock, then barges will have no reason to use the Lower St. Anthony Lock or the Ford Dam Lock. -- Dave Stack, Linden Hills and Harrison
Jim Mork Posted at 2:26am, May 18
Hey, folks, remember to thank globalization. They brought those fish from Asia to clean up pools where they were raising catfish. I don't know if its established the carp escape was an accident or intentional. But the world seems pretty indifferent nowadays about what gets spread where IF IT MAKES US (meaning the 1 percent mostly ) RICHER. We have MERS. We have varieties of flu and SARS. We have emerald borers that came from Asia to Canada and then south to here. I don't know how long the list is getting, but it was too long for me some time ago. Ecosystems develop over time, but it takes NO time to take a species which was in balance on one continent, put it in another, and have it go crazy. This, to me, is just one more instance of how we monkey with natural systems as if we had some clue what we were doing. And somehow, at some point, the justification is money, money, money. So as one thing after another gets wrecked, please be thankful that SOMEBODY made a few bucks off it. And forget "the way things used to be" so long as money rules.
Darrell Gerber Posted at 5:35pm, May 18
Dave, The bill does only pertain to the Upper St. Anthony Lock. Any change in use of the Lower St. Anthony Lock and Ford Dam Lock would be made by the Corps of Engineers based upon the level of usage through the locks. It's hard to say what they will do but they have several levels of operation they can step down to before deciding to close the locks. They are all based upon the level of both commercial and recreational usage. There will remain commercial traffic through both locks from the Minneapolis Queen and Paddleford cruises and the recreational traffic will remain.
However, that doesn't mean that at some point, if the population of invasive carp below those locks increases enough we won't need to revisit those locks in order to prevent the river gouge from being infested. The Stop Carp coalition is doing public outreach encouraging recreational users to stay in one pool and avoid using the locks in order to reduce the risk of carp hitchhiking through the lock. (stopcarp.org).
Scott Vreeland Posted at 2:23pm, May 19
Ideally, for small boats and a carp barrier, we would close lock and dam number #1 at the Ford dam and not close either the Upper of Lower Saint Anthony locks, The three very different reaches of the river would then be a water trail that runs through Minneapolis. Without commercial tonnage, it would be an uphill battle to keep the Army Corps operating locks above a closed lock. It doesn't make sense to let the invasive carp in the lower gorge if the traditional fish barrier- the falls- is closed for navigation.
As a Park Board Commissioner, I helped craft the agreement where Paradise Cruises,(Minneapolis Queen and the Paradise Lady) based at Bohemian Flats, do not go through the locks that let carp upstream. ( The lower Saint Anthony lock is not a fish barrier even if closed)
Unfortunately, the Padelford Riverboats, continue to ignore requests to stop using the lock throughs that increase the chances of carp coming up river. The Park Board and National Park Service continue to request that recreational boaters look at other options than going through Lock # 1 or the Upper Saint Anthony lock, so we have fewer times the locks are opened.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Commissioner District # 3
Sheldon Mains Posted at 2:41pm, May 19
Wonder if the Ford dam could be removed? Is there still a small hydro facility there (it was owned by Ford Motor). Also, remove the lower St. Anthony Dam (again, there may be a small hydro power facility there)
This would make that stretch of the the river free-flowing.
Connie Sullivan Posted at 3:14pm, May 19
Actually, the question about how much electricity is produced at the Ford Dam is a good one. Minnesota heavily subsidized the Ford Co. plant in St. Paul by never increasing Ford's 1923 annual rent for leasing the dam's electricity from about $93,000, all the way through 2003--you figure out what the 2003 value of a 1923 $93,000 would become! Ford sold to NSP (now Xcel) the excess power it didn't use at the plant, so for Ford, that dam was a Win, Win, Win (they could also ship on the river). HUGE public subsidy to a private business, for eighty years, so that they would provide jobs here. That subsidy tends to go unremarked.
We also never talk much about what happens to the Mississippi River in the gorge if we don't have the Ford Dam: the water level goes back to its low normal, and there's almost NO boat traffic for a good part of the year unless you're in a canoe or a shell. We forget that people used to wade the river, in parts of the gorge. And there be rocks there, too. Big rocks, not all of which had been removed by the time the Meeker dam was abandoned for the new Ford Dam.
MN History, the magazine, had a fascinating article about the various dams on the river in Minneapolis-to-St. Paul border, a couple of decades ago. They have a searchable on-line index of all articles (search Ford Dam).
Como, in East Minneapolis