1999 GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY FORUM
SEPTEMBER 24-26, 1999
LIGHTLY EDITED, VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT
SATURDAY AFTERNOON, SEPTEMBER 25
Glen Maxim, Duluth, Minnesota; member, Save Lake Superior Association; member, Sierra Club
What I would like to address you on is the watershed consideration, which I am very happy to hear that you are now, for this meeting, you are focusing on to a great extent the watershed. If we're truly dedicated to protecting and restoring the watersheds of the Great Lakes, we must look at all of the reasons why there is need for such dedication. Those reasons resulting from land development, clear-cutting, and mono-culture in the forests and pollution carried into the Great Lakes from feeder streams are undeniably important. There is also the misguided efforts by the natural resources departments to employ extreme measures to try to perpetuate and increase the exotic salmonids. I mean the cohos, the steelheads fish of the salmon family which should not be here.
The distressing and permanent damage to watershed streams and rivers is most apparent along but not exclusive to the Minnesota north shore. Eight rivers serve as disfigured monuments to the ruinous methods employed to increase the non-native steelheads by the Minnesota DNR. In response to those demands, the DNR brought jack-hammers, dynamite, and heavy equipment and destroyed what it likes to refer to as barriers, to what we know of as waterfalls. Some of these rivers have been subjected to waterfall destruction two and three times over to allow penetration far upstream by the non-native species that did not evolve here and definitely do not belong in the Great Lakes.
On the rugged Knife River near Duluth for example, the dynamite and jack-hammers were brought in to install a fish trap, allegedly needed to find out why steelhead numbers were in steep decline. The DNR okayed plans calling for more than 1,200 cubic yards of rocky waterfalls to be blasted out and chipped out. A trench 130 feet long, 22 feet wide, and up to 10 feet deep was formed with a 170 yards of concrete. On the fourth of July of this year, mother nature had other thoughts. The weir was put out of commission and costly repairs needed. This particular river has been subjected to waterfall elimination three times in the last quarter century. The pleasure of enjoying these waterfalls created naturally over thousands of years has thus been denied to locals and visitors alike. ... (tape change) ...
The stocks of non-native fish were reduced to low levels in most areas through over-fishing, habitat loss, and competition with the introduced anadromous salmonids. While countless millions of dollars are being wasted on expanding populations of the non-native species, very little is being done to return the pre-exotic native fish numbers in the Great Lakes. In Minnesota for example it's been the policy to stock just one native fish in Lake Superior for every ten of the non-native species. The cost of producing one single steelhead of legal size to be caught by the anglers, you won't believe the figure, $720 per fish. The defendants often claim that we want these exotic fish to disappear through a halt in stocking really have no grounds for complaints. After all they say, the anglers paying for the cost of the exotics program. To us this implies that the Great Lakes fisheries inventory is up for sale to the highest bidder, that those who pay the most and speak the loudest deserve to control the species in the lakes and the watershed streams of the Great Lakes. Finally, to this we say shame on those anglers who demand exotic fish in the Great Lakes and its tributary streams. Shame on the DNR for being a party to habitat destruction that is so clearly biologically incorrect and environmentally unsound. Shame on the rest of us for doing so very little to end this travesty. Thank you.
May we have a copy of your statement.
You can have it but it has my written in comments on it. I don't think anyone else really addresses this problem and it certainly is not as large as getting the pollutants out but it needs consideration.
Commissioner Frank Murphy
What do the Great Lakes Fishery Commission say about it?
They invited me as a guest to speak at their session in Ann Arbor a year ago on exotics. So obviously they are very much interested, but they're pressured by sports anglers as well.
Did you imply that two other states may do the same thing of blowing up dams?
No, I said to a lesser degree they are doing things too.
What are they doing?
Wisconsin and, I think, Michigan have done some dredging to create deeper water, colder water for these exotics.
But they are not blowing up?
No, no, we have a rocky lakeshore so they go in there but the worst part of it is the DNR fisheries chief, in a letter to our congressman, denied that dynamite was being used. I saw them doing it. It's obvious they were doing it.
Thanks very much. It sounded very interesting.
It's a different approach I know that getting rid of the toxics is certainly of major importance but there are other things such as the wildlife that live in and around the area.
Thank you. Thank you very much.