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Coon Rapids Dam undergoing upgrades to prevent spread of Asian carp


Construction crews began installing massive steel gates at the Coon Rapids Dam as part of a $16 million upgrade to prevent Asian carp from spreading to the upper Mississippi watershed, the Star Tribune reports.

The gates will replace older, less effective rubber tube gates.

The goal is to install five gates on the Anoka County side of the dam by Dec. 1. Four more barriers on the Hennepin County side would be installed in the spring, the Star Tribune said.

ABC Newspapers says the Legislature approved funding for the rehabilitation project in the 2011 bonding bill.

About 130 miles southeast, a silver carp carcass was found near Winona -- the farthest north the invasive species has been spotted in the Mississippi River. The DNR suspects the invasive fish was attempting to leap over Lock and Dam 5.

"We can control them," Duane Chapman, a fisheries expert who works for the U.S. Geological Survey's Environmental Research Center in Columbia, Mo., said at a speaking engagement in St. Paul earlier this month, according to MinnPost.

MinnPost reports promising research on invasive species control methods is underway, including an option that would involve carp-killing chemical "toxicants" that are relatively harmless to other fish.

Chapman says improvements to Mississippi River dams have proved effective in slowing the aquatic invaders' upstream migration.

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Policymakers see St. Anthony Falls as line in sand in fight against Asian carp

State and federal officials are pushing a bill in Congress that would close the lock and dam at St. Anthony Falls if the invasive fish is found nearby. They say if Asian carp get any farther up the Mississippi River, they would threaten Minnesota's $11 billion tourism industry.

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The Obama administration's point man in the fight against invasive Asian carp says his agency is focused on protecting the Great Lakes. But he doubts the plan Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pushing is a viable way to keep the fish out of the upper Mississippi River.

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A risk analysis by U.S. and Canadian researchers finds the food supply and breeding areas in the Great Lakes would allow Asian carp to spread rapidly. The report says just ten breeding females and a few males would be enough of a foothold for the invasive fish to populate all five of the Great Lakes.