2011 News Releases

Attorney General Schmidt urges congressional action against invasive species

Release Date: Sep 27, 2011

TOPEKA – (September 27, 2011) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked key congressional leaders to expedite federal action to combat the spread of invasive species of aquatic life from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system.

Schmidt this week joined with attorneys general from 16 other states in a letter to the chairs and ranking minority members of key congressional committees urging quick completion of a congressionally mandated study and then swift implementation of its recommendations to combat the spread of invasive species. A key component of the study is focused on the Chicago Area Waterway System, a manmade waterway linking the upper reaches of the Mississippi River system with Lake Michigan – and providing a pathway for the migration of aquatic species from one water body to another.

“The Corps [of Engineers] protracted time frame … is not commensurate with the seriousness and urgency of the continuing threat of biological invasions – in both directions – through the [Chicago Area Waterway System],” the attorneys general wrote. “Indeed, it is simply unacceptable.”

Kansas and the 16 other states have waterways that are affected by the movement of non-native species through the waterway. In Kansas, zebra mussels already have made the migration, invaded Kansas waters, disrupted local ecosystems and damaged the state’s economy. Swift action by the federal government could help prevent the anticipated migration to Kansas of another invasive species, the quagga mussel, which also would be damaging.

Schmidt said federal legislation has been introduced on this issue, including H.R. 892 and S. 471. Both bills would direct the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Corps, to study the watersheds of the Illinois, Chicago, and Calmet Rivers that drain into Lake Michigan to determine the feasibility and best means of implementing the hydraulic separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins to prevent the introduction or establishment of the invasive species between the basins through the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS).

Kansas Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Robin Jennison commended the action and stated, “This is a serious and growing problem for Kansas rivers and reservoirs. I support this action and encourage Congress to act quickly.”

Schmidt said Congress first authorized the Corps to study options for spread of the aquatic species through the CAWS in 2007 and specific funding was provided in 2009. After initially stating that it intended to complete the CAWS-area portion of the study in 2012, the Corps now indicates that it does not expect to complete that portion of the study until 2015.

“That delayed timeline is not adequate,” Schmidt said. “We need the federal government to act swiftly to address this problem.”

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.