Chicago Speaks Out in Favor of Invasive Species Prevention

The first public meeting on the Army Corps of Engineer’s GLMRIS report took place yesterday January 9th in Chicago.The meeting, held only three short days following the report’s release on Monday, turned out over 70 people to speak on aquatic invasive species control.  A clear majority of speakers supported permanent separation, and welcomed the Corps’ finding that permanent separation is not only possible, but the most effective option for stopping the spread of invasive species.
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Cook County resident and Sierra Club member Sabi Horvat
A common theme highlighted was the need to move from studying separation to start planning it.  Dave Ullrich of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative urged regional stakeholders to act: “We should not miss the opportunity we have here.”Troubling to some members of the audience was the flawed study assumption that solving the flooding that plagues the Chicago region and improving water quality in the Chicago River are costs to be incurred by separation rather than being problems that need to be addressed anyway. Further, the report fails to provide any indication of the economic benefits that could be gained.”For every 1 billion dollars we invest in water infrastructure, 40,000 jobs are created,” said Jack Darin, director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’re talking about potentially half a million jobs for a project of this magnitude.”Members of the public who came out, including Cook County resident Mary Warskow, spoke passionately about the need for protection at any costs.  “The Great Lakes deserve the greatest level of protection we can offer them,” Warskow said. “Let’s keep the Great Lakes the economic and ecological treasure that it is.”Support for moving forward towards separation at the meeting reflects the more than 25,000 people throughout the Great Lakes region who have communicated their interest in separation, as well as the numerous organizations and congressional offices that have voiced similar wishes.

The time for action is now as the Nature Conservancy’s Michelle Carr stated, “The region must come together to identify, select, and implement a solution.”

A public meeting will also be held in Alton, Illinois on January 30th at the National Great Rivers Museum, #2 Locks and Dam Way.  For more information, or to get a copy of our talking points and fact sheet, please contact Colleen Smith at colleen.smith@sierraclub.org

 

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