Environment

Kentucky could receive additional federal funds to manage the spread of invasive Asian carp.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added language to an appropriations bill directing U.S. Fish and Wildlife to focus efforts on combating Asian carp in two Kentucky lakes.

“Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are popular fishing areas that are being threatened by the existence and the spread of Asian carp, and we must protect them. Not only are these fish a danger for the local economy, they are also a safety hazard for anglers and boaters,” McConnell said in a press release.

Asian carp are large, ravenous fish that weigh 15 to 25 pounds on average. They reproduce quickly and feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton, often out-competing smaller fish that are a necessary part of the food chain.

In previous years, much of the funding for managing the Asian carp went to keeping them out of the Great Lakes, said Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White.

“But it’s causing a lot of our southern states, Kentucky, Tennessee Arkansas to be left out and basically be ravaged by this invasion of the Asian carp,” White said.

That’s why White’s pleased to hear McConnell included the language in the Interior Appropriations bill that’s headed to the Senate for approval.

“It’s a first step for us, there’s a lot more that needs to happen, but I was glad to see him do this,” he said.

The legislation includes $600,000 more than was dedicated to the problem last year, bringing the total to $11 million for U.S. Fish and Wildlife to manage Asian carp in the two Kentucky lakes, as well as the larger Mississippi and Ohio River Basins.

It’s not yet clear what share of the funds Kentucky could receive.

White says the funds would likely go toward paying commercial fisherman to remove the carp from lakes, and installing technology that can help stop the spread of Asian carp.

 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.