Let Me Tell You About My Backyard
by Bob K.
Having spent my childhood and youth on the shores of Lake Erie, then as an adult taking up residence in various parts of the state of Michigan to be in occasional contact with Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior, I am more than concerned about the fate of this precious treasure. These waters have been under siege before from sewage drains, industrial waste and freighter ballast. It takes eternal vigilance to keep these waters safe and pure.
Now it is Asian Carp. Imported by catfish farmers some 40 years ago to clean up their ponds, the carp have made their way out of flooded ponds into the Mississippi in the last twenty years. Now they have been found in the Illinois River which connects the Mississippi to Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet. Aquatic researchers are alarmed about the fate of the Great Lakes ecosystem, the impact on the fishing industry and tourism.
To prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working with other national and Illinois state agencies, have installed a permanent electric barrier between the fish and Lake Michigan. But DNA tests show that the carp have already breached that barrier. Five states touching the Great Lakes have cooperated to petition for the closing of the locks on the canal. The Corps neglected to testify to that breach in the recent refusal of the Supreme Court to order the closing of the locks.
In the wake of my concerns about the future of our precious lakes, I have new respect for my fellow citizens who live in Southern California and Arizona. They have been trying to tell the rest of us about their problems with the porousness of a border with Mexico. Obligated to provide education, social and medical services to expanding populations of immigrants, they have asked the federal authorities for help. They are thwarted by inaction and the lobbying power of special interests.
Arizonans have taken matters into their own hands. I have new appreciation for what’s going on in their state and can readily understand their frustration with inaction and dismissal. Fortunately the rest of the nation is starting to take notice of their problem. We can appreciate the need of Mexicans to escape unemployment and poverty. We can empathize with immigrants here illegally who established roots and have raised families. But we can also understand the need for states and communities impacted by immigrant numbers to re-establish the rules and come to terms with what is happening to radically change their way of life.
I am among those listening as the citizens of Arizona and Southern California and the Gulf Coast and other regions say to me, 'Let me tell you about my backyard.' And as a fellow American, I should listen.