Sandbar Talks Reunite Partners
BY PHILIP ROGERS, CARTERVILLE FWCO
Mississippi River. Credit: Brad Rogers, USFWS
In the January 24, 2013 issue of Fishlines, you read an article titled “USFWS and USACE Come Together With a Bang!” This article described a unique event that the staff at the Carterville Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) got to take part in. Basically, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) were using explosives to remove rock pinnacles that were impacting commercial navigation on the Middle Mississippi River (MMR). So, we partnered up with USACE, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and Marion, Illinois (IL) Ecological Services to determine the impact to the fish community in the blasting areas of the MMR. This article is definitely worth a read if you haven’t already!
Carterville FWCO has traditionally done a significant amount of fisheries work on the MMR. More recently, however, with the ever expanding population front of the invasive Asian carp, Carterville FWCO has been almost exclusively involved with preventing these fish from reaching the Great Lakes. This has moved our work from the MMR all the way up to the Upper Illinois Waterway in the Greater Chicago Area. Having the opportunity to spend several days working with our old partners from MDC on the MMR was a pleasure and a welcome break from our Asian carp work. It also led us to scheming up other opportunities for collaboration during our lunchtime “Sandbar Talks.”
While catching up with our friends from MDC on a picturesque sandbar just down river of Thebes, IL we started to realize just how out of touch we had become. Talk of our common interest related to pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, Asian carp, and other species made us realize there are plenty of opportunities to renew our partnership. This realization demanded that our two offices reconvene off the water. In our less than picturesque conference room, we learned in greater detail what projects each office has been working on and what the results of those projects were. We learned that a lot of the information MDC had been gathering on the MMR could greatly benefit our Asian carp work on the Illinois River.
So, after an entire day of discussions, Carterville FWCO and MDC came up with close to a dozen opportunities to work together in the future. Some specific projects we came up with include work with American eels on the MMR, early life history of Asian carp, and Asian carp stock assessment in the Illinois River. This reunion emphasized the fact that partnerships are crucial (but can slip away if we aren’t careful) to the success of the Fish and Wildlife Service and other natural resource management organizations.