Berm Built to Stop Invasive Species Entering Lake Erie

May 12, 2016

Betsy Yankowiak (Director of Preserves and Programs, Little River Wetlands Project) and Bill Bolen (senior advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency) hold a map of Eagle Marsh.
Credit Nick Janzen | IPB

State and federal agencies joined a non-profit Wednesday to celebrate the completion of a berm built to stop Asian carp from entering Lake Erie. The berm near Fort Wayne protects the Great Lakes’ fishing industry from the invasive species.

The nearly two mile, $4.4million earthen berm acts as a physical barrier, preventing Asian carp from jumping out of the Wabash River Basin and into the Great Lakes Basin.

That migration would be disastrous. Betsy Yankowiak, Director of Preserves and Programs for Little River Wetlands Projects, says “if they were to reach Lake Eerie, they could devastate the $7 billion a year fishing industry.”

Little River Wetlands Project co-owns Eagle Marsh with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and built the berm with additional help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Eagle Marsh sits on the continental divide—it’s the point that separates all the water that flows into the Wabash River and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico, from the water that flows into the Maumee River and Lake Eerie.

When water levels at the marsh are high, like after a heavy rain, carp can literally jump over the divide, entering the Great Lakes Basin.

The berm is more than a prevention measure. Local colleges and high schools will be able to use the site as a research area and in the fall it will be incorporated into local trail systems.