Saturday, June 24, 2017

All it takes is one to create a problem

I don’t doubt that most people give little thought to the concept of Asian Carp.
Not far from Great Lakes, where Calumets converge

For all I know, on the occasions they do think about it, they dismiss it as some sort of artificial emergency situation created by intellectual types who have way too much free time on their hands – perhaps similar to the doomsday we were supposed to face on Jan. 1, 2000.

IT DOESN’T SEEM that many people are getting all that worked up over the concept of the Asian Carp – a species of fish that Mother Nature never really intended to exist in this part of the globe. Maybe they think it's what you get when you order Chinese carry-out!

So the fact that scientists inadvertently let them loose into the Mississippi River and they have steadily worked their way upstream is a problem that those scientists get all worked up over. But which elicits a great big “Yawn!” from the bulk of us.

As things turn out, the Asian Carp have worked their way up the river and into Illinois – where they’re alive and thriving in the Illinois River. I recently stumbled across a news report that said the waters around Havana, Ill., have more Asian Carp than any other place on Earth.

Now why should we care about the Carp?

THE FACT IS that the eat everything in sight. They devour all the natural plant life that fish nature intended to be in the area would feed off of. As a result, the types of fish who “belong” wind up being threatened.
Lake Calumet a direct path to Lake Michigan

The potential exists for nature to be erased, and replaced with something glutton-ish that was never meant to be!

Back in 2010, an Asian Carp was actually pulled out of Lake Calumet – that isolated patch of area on Chicago’s far South Side that connects directly to Lake Michigan by the Calumet River.

And on Friday, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee said another Asian Carp was caught by a fisherman just south of the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam – which is near Lake Calumet – and clearly within the Chicago city limits.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND WILDLIFE types like to talk about those electronic gates they erected south of the city that supposedly kill off any Asian Carp that try to swim too close to Chicago or Lake Michigan. But it also seems at least two managed to figure out a way to get past.
Could the Carp someday swim past 95th St. bridge?

Which creates the possibility that many more also succeeded. For all we know, they have managed to get to Lake Michigan proper – and we just don’t know it yet. Or equally likely, they are going to continue to try and the day will come when we’ll have the Asian Carp feeding off the Great Lakes.

Now those who want to think of issues in a partisan way often want to place blame on the Asian Carp issue on Chicago itself. We are the city that back in the 19th Century created the connections between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.

Those connections were a large part of the reason why Chicago became the dominant Midwestern city so much larger than places like Detroit, Milwaukee or St. Louis.

ARE WE SUPPOSED to wither away and cease to exist because others allowed the Mississippi River to become tainted by the Asian Carp?

Now I’m not about to offer up the solution to keeping the Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan. It seems we’re doing what we possibly can thus far, and this may wind up being an issue of how things can always go wrong.
Fact that area fenced off causes many to give Calumet lake little thought. All photographs by Gregory Tejeda

All I know is that this issue is one we all ought to be giving greater thought to, rather than thinking of it as something that is occurring down around that lake many of us never pay attention to.

For if we do wind up facing the day of devastation to the Great Lake upon which our city’s existence is so reliant, it won’t be as “ho-hum” an event as it was the day after Dec. 21, 2012 – when the world didn’t come to an end as the Mayans allegedly once predicted it would.


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