The Asian carp are coming. In a recent report, the Nature Conservancy cited samples of environmental DNA for bighead carp found in Ohio's Muskingum River 100 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, 180 miles south of Lake Erie.
The report -- issued in conjunction with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and researchers from Central Michigan University -- found Asian carp eDNA in 10 of 222 samples. Asian carp have been established in the Ohio River for more than a decade, but these eDNA results indicate the fish could be present in the Muskingum some 80 miles north of where the Muskingum joins the Ohio River at Marietta.
The Muskingum has a series of old dams and deteriorating locks. If the genetic evidence is accurate, those barriers have not provided a significant impediment to the carp moving up the river system.
"This information seems to indicate they have already gotten past the dams," said John Navarro of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in a report by the Block News Alliance. "They've shown no tendency to slow down. They are barreling up these waterways."
The phrase 'Asian carp" refers to bighead, silver, grass and black carp -- invasive species that present various levels of threat to waterways and fisheries. The most destructive, bighead and silver carp, are filter feeders that devour plankton, depleting the food sources for native fish. Grass carp consume aquatic vegetation and destroy habitats of native fishes, while black carp eat snails and mussels and are a threat to those species and everything that eats them.
Endangered species bill
House Bill 1576, which would put more control over the management of endangered and threatened species in the hands of legislators, is back in business after failing to reach a vote in March.
The state Fish and Boat Commission and other organizations said at the time they would offer sponsors of the industry-backed bill alternative ways to plan around vulnerable habitats, a key concern of the bill's supporters. But PennFuture, Sierra Club and other groups say the revised initiative would continue to empanel a legislator-appointed scientific advisory committee they believe would be inclined to favor the interests of industry over the consensus of science. The proposal has not been introduced but could soon be on the House floor.
Glade Run Lake
The return of an old lake will give anglers a new place to fish near Valencia, about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Glade Run Lake was closed in 2002 when its spillway was found to be inadequate. In 2011 engineers found possible seepage and erosion problems.
Last week Gov. Tom Corbett announced that a $2 million state commitment would be added to $2 million from Fish and Boat and $300,000 from the Glade Run Lake Conservancy to restore the lake.
The reservoir is expected to be refilled in 2016.