Protect Aquatic Habitat from Asian Carp
$7,500,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to design, construct, operate, and evaluate structural deterrents for Asian carp to protect Minnesota's aquatic habitat. Use of this money requires a one-to-one match for projects on state boundary waters.
DNR, USFWS, RIM, Iowa, University
Funding was used to design, install and evaluate deterrent barrier options in Minnesota and to cost share a barrier in northwest Iowa to limit or slow the movement of Invasive carp.
Activity 1 Complete design and all permit requirements for a "sweeping" electrical barrier at Lock and Dam 1.
The MN DNR believed that the best approach to keep Invasive Carp out of the upper Mississippi River watershed was to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock. The lock is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers and required an act of Congress to shut down. Minnesota senators and representatives successfully added an amendment to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) that called for Upper St. Anthony Falls lock closure within one year of passage of the bill. The bill passed both chambers of the federal legislature and was signed into law by President Obama on June 10, 2014. Lock closure happened June 10, 2015.
Prior to lock closure, the MN DNR initiated an invasive carp deterrent project at Lock and Dam 1 based on the status of carp population at the time and the uncertain political will to close a federal lock. The DNR contracted with Smith-Root Inc. to design an electrical barrier at Lock and Dam 1. With the passage of the 2014 WRRDA bill, construction of a Lock and Dam 1 barrier was not necessary. But, due to the timing of passage of the bill, there was no cost savings by terminating the design contract for the electrical barrier. Also, by completing the design, the MN DNR has a better understanding of the costs, potential effectiveness, and safety concerns associated with this technology. The contractor submitted a final design to the DNR in 2014.
Activity 2 Complete design, acquire permits, and construct deterrent barriers in Minnesota's portion of the Missouri River watershed.
Waters in the southwest corner of Minnesota were vulnerable to Invasive Carp expansion from the Missouri River watershed. MN DNR fisheries identified locations to prevent Invasive carp from entering Minnesota waters and from entering the Mississippi River and Minnesota River tributaries through watershed breaches.
• Okabena Creek - Des Moines River Watershed Breach: The DNR acquired a flowage easement and removed two road culverts. With these culverts removed, the township gravel road acts as a physical berm to separate the watersheds.
• Okabena Creek Barrier: The DNR installed an electric barrier by removing two small culverts and installing a 12 foot by 6 foot electrified culvert. The barrier prevents upstream movement of fish.
• Little Sioux River - Des Moines River Watershed Breach: The DNR worked with the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District and a private landowner to build up an earthen dike berm to disconnect the watersheds.
• Little Sioux River - Des Moines River Watershed Breach: The DNR worked with the Jackson County Highway Department and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to install a grate system and tile line caps to prevent fish from moving across a watershed boundary via the tile line system.
• Minnesota River - Des Moines River Watershed Breach: An earthen plug was installed in a ditch to reestablish watershed disconnection.
• Little Sioux River - Rock River Watershed Breach: An earthen plug was installed in a ditch and an outlet structure was modified to reestablish watershed disconnection.
• Illinois Lake Protective Barrier: The DNR installed an electric barrier on a WMA downstream of the outlet of Illinois Lake.
Activity 3 Develop cost share agreement with State of Iowa to construct barrier at Lower Gar Outlet.
A joint powers agreement with Iowa DNR was executed to help share costs on a barrier to prevent Invasive Carp in the Missouri River watershed from entering Minnesota. An electric barrier at the outlet of Lower Gar Lake became fully operational in December 2012.
Activity 4 Complete evaluation on feasibility of barriers in the Minnesota River watershed.
The Minnesota River is a free flowing system whose watershed covers much of southern Minnesota. The MN DNR contracted with the Water Resource Center at Minnesota State - Mankato on a project to evaluate several Minnesota River aspects including barrier feasibility. Increasing the understanding of this system aided the DNR in evaluating deterrent barrier potential on the Minnesota River and its tributaries. Additionally, the project provided information on habitat suitability and described the Minnesota/Red River connection. A final report was submitted to the MN DNR in July 2018.
Activity 5 Implement and evaluate deterrent barriers at Lock and Dams.
The susceptible portion of the St. Croix River is not conducive to electrical barriers due to the high level of recreational use (safety concerns) and the required cooperation from Wisconsin, which has expressed limited to no interest in constructing a barrier. The best alternative is exploring deterrent technologies in lock(s) below the confluence with the Mississippi River. The MN DNR contracted with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to evaluate the potential effectiveness of flow modifications and an existing acoustic deterrent in Mississippi River Lock and Dam 8 to prevent Invasive Carp movement. A final report was submitted to the MN DNR in March 2019.
Activity 6 Complete design, acquire permits and construct deterrent barriers in the Minnesota River watershed.
The uncertainty associated with a barrier (effectiveness, timeline, cost, native community impacts, and ability to construct) on the Minnesota River was high. This was substantiated by the evaluation completed by Minnesota State Mankato (Activity 4). Given this scenario, DNR Fisheries identified high value aquatic resources that could be protected at locations in tributaries. Construction of the two electric barriers, Madison/Eagle lakes protective barrier and Elysian/Buffalo lakes protective barrier, were completed in February 2019.
Activity 7 Lock and Dam 5 Acoustic Deterrent Feasibility Study
Mississippi River Lock and Dam 5 was identified as a potential location for installation of an acoustic barrier to deter upstream movement of Invasive Carp. Before any potential construction project, the DNR required a feasibility study to estimate the effectiveness, construction costs, and annual operation/maintenance costs. The MN DNR contracted with the University of Minnesota-Duluth to complete the study. Study results suggest further development of the technology was needed before deployment at this site. A final report was submitted to the MN DNR in December 2018.