Asian carp; invasive species; and Great Lakes research, restoration and conservation efforts highlighted discussions today at a symposium sponsored by Central Michigan University's Institute for Great Lakes Research.
symposium featured special guest Debbie Stabenow, U.S. senator and co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. She also is author of the Defending Our Great Lakes Act, newly introduced bipartisan legislation that instructs the Army Corps of Engineers to work closely with state, business and environmental groups to address how to stop invasive species while protecting shipping and local commerce, preventing flooding and improving water quality.
Stabenow said CMU's Great Lakes research is urgent and necessary for protecting water quality around the Great Lakes, and that Asian carp are a real and immediate threat to Michigan's economy. If fish establish a breeding population, they have the potential to devastate $7.5 billion fishing and $16 billion boating industries.
She lauded CMU faculty and student research efforts to help stop the spread of invasive species.
"CMU provides the largest monitoring program in our state's history," Stabenow said. "Thanks to your work we now have critical knowledge about the health of our state's wetlands and the restoration strategies currently working."
CMU oversees a $10 million EPA grant to conduct Great Lakes wetlands restoration and preservation research, with the CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research allocating funds through this grant to nine other universities and three governmental agencies.
"We know that before we can restore the original brilliance of our Great Lakes, we have to understand what is going on and the work being done here every day is getting us closer to answers," Stabenow said.
CMU is a recognized leader in studying the Great Lakes, with more than 20 faculty in the Institute for Great Lakes Research supported by state-of-the-art facilities in Mount Pleasant and at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island. A $95 million Biosciences Building, currently under construction and due to be completed in 2016, will provide enhanced infrastructure to support faculty and student research and classes.