The Common Carp Threat
The Common Carp was introduced to North America by the U.S Fish Commission in the late 1800s as a cheap source of protein. Due to the culinary preference for this species by the immigrants of the time, the Fish Commission encouraged the cultivation of Carp. However, the Carp often escaped the fish farms during flood events. They prospered in the wild due to the lack of native predators and the abundance of suitable habitat. The Carp population grew rapidly, dominating low gradient, soft bottom wetlands, lakes and streams. Carp represent 90 percent of the fish biomass in the aquatic systems to be used in the proposed research project. Carp do significant harm to the native, aquatic ecosystems of North America (e.g., wetlands, lakes, streams, and rivers), affecting other aquatic organisms and humans alike. In their search for food, they scarify the benthos and, in the process, uproot the aquatic plants which provide numerous ecosystem services. These plants slow and thereby store flood waters, and provide stable substrate for the critical microbial communities, which process aquatic contaminants such as excess nitrogen and phosphorous. The plants also sequester carbon and sediment, provide habitat for a wide range of animals, and support biodiversity. The Carp’s activities create an unstable aquatic environment that is turbid, unsuitable for essential microbial and plant propagation and lead to the transmission of unwanted extreme flows and contaminants downstream. The presence of Carp, in part, is responsible for the hypoxic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico because they disrupt the growth of the microbial populations that are responsible for denitrification.
Capture and Removal
It may be possible to install barriers to upstream migration in the spring and allow selective removal of Carp. Carp are known to migrate downstream in the late fall, seeking deep waters to avoid freezing during the winter. In the spring, at water temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Carp migrate upstream seeking grassy, inundated floodplains and wetlands in which to spawn. Two general methods can be used to impede upstream Carp migration in the spring. One method involves the use of block nets around deep pools that act as winter traps which can be drained and seined. The second method uses block nets with female Carp emitting pheromones to attract male Carp. The attracted Carp are then removed. In the spring, the caged fecund females will be placed upstream of trap nets and the incoming fish directed by a fine meshed tube into a steel basket that can be lifted out of the water so that the native fish can be separated and returned to the river while the Carp are sold, buried, or left for scavengers. The proposed techniques and devices that are described below will be tested as possible means for controlling the Common Carp and its deleterious effects on the physical environment, other aquatic organisms and humans. As mentioned before, this species is not native to North America and has few or no native predators once it reaches six to eight months old. As a result, Carp tend to dominate their aquatic niche. The objective of this research project is to explore alternative methods to reduce Carp densities and to examine ecosystem level responses to the reduced densities.
Neal Marsh has been restored in a somewhat unusual way. Rather than lowering the ground level to bring it closer to the water table, engineers built a riffle structure to raise the water table five feet, creating a marsh that is just over a foot deep and supports an array of aquatic plants. Neal Marsh was funded through mitigation banking, a system that allows developers who are looking to destroy wetlands to offset the loss by purchasing credits toward a compensatory wetland somewhere else. WRI had sufficient funds to undertake the Neal Marsh project, but the Army Corps of Engineers, the mitigation banking regulator, required a project guarantor. The Donnelley Foundation provided the financial guarantee, and the Village of Gurnee provided the administrative assurance, unlocking the door to a promising new phase in wetlands research. During the growing season of 2012, the aquatic plant communities at Neal Marsh are maturing and attracting an impressive array of wildlife.
Mitigation banking is the restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area which has been impacted by land development. In the United States, the federal government (under section 404 of the Clean Water Act) as well as many state and local governments, require mitigation for the disturbance or destruction of wetland, stream, or endangered wildlife habitat. Once approved by regulatory agencies the mitigation bank may sell credits to developers whose projects will impact these various ecosystems. Wetlands Research, Inc. offers credits for sale from our U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's approved wetland mitigation bank. Please contact WRI for credit availability and pricing. Wetlands Research, Inc. P.O. Box 225 Wadsworth, IL 60083 847-244-9003 847-244-8133 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
Nutrient farming (NuFarming) is a market based strategy that uses restored wetlands designed, built and operated for the purposes of reducing nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) and other contaminants, trapping sediments, and storing flood waters. Nutrient farms produce water quality and environmental credits, such as nutrient reduction or flood storage credits, that can be sold to municipal or industrial waste treatment facilities that need to meet a given water quality standard and cannot cost-effectively achieve the standard, or to government bodies needing flood protection. NuFarming simply involves growing wetlands in strategic landscape positions (e.g., floodplains) and passing the contaminated water through the dense vegetation and over the organic soil. The wetlands effectively and efficiently remove nitrogen and phosphorous and other contaminants while saving large amounts of capital and energy.
Nitrogen and phosphorous are powerful nutrients. They have the ability to make grass green and dramatically increase crop yields. They also have the power to pollute water and threaten human and aquatic life. Nitrogen and phosphorous are causing global problems. As the world’s population increases, nutrient runoff from farm fields and discharge from industrial and human waste water treatment plants increase as well. Nutrient pollution affects the receiving stream and, ultimately, the coastal waters into which the polluted streams deposit their load. Contaminated coastal waters abound throughout the world.
For example, the Mississippi river gathers a huge nutrient load and dumps it into the Gulf of Mexico creating a very large “dead zone” in which the dissolved oxygen is, at times, less than 2 mg/L (a condition known as hypoxia.) Within this zone higher aquatic life forms such as fish and crustaceans cannot survive, adversely affecting the fishing industry. To address this problem, the Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated stringent nutrient criteria, but few states have established the required standards. Two options to manage nutrient pollution include using conventional “concrete and steel” technology, or the natural alternative, NuFarming.
To meet the criteria, a recent study by JP Morgan shows that nutrient farming would lessen the financial burden to Chicago area residents. NuFarming would reduce the tax impact by 51% compared to building waste water treatment facilities to meet pending Illinois water quality standards. NuFarming will also provide farmers with substantially more income as they begin to convert portions of their low lying cropland to NuFarms.
NuFarming’s numerous benefits will build a stronger bridge between rural and urban communities. As stated above, it will provide the agricultural community with greater income while giving the urban community high quality open space of wetlands for hunting, fishing, hiking and camping. Finally, NuFarming will relieve flood damage for both urban and rural communities. The wetlands of NuFarming will create a more productive relationship between our soil and water.
For additional information contact: Donald L. Hey, Executive Director or Timothy R. Lanum, Director of Communications and Development email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org