U.S. House OKs bill to protect N. Minnesota waters from Asian carp

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A bill has been approved by the U.S. House aimed at protecting northern Minnesota waters against invasive Asian carp, the Star Tribune reports.

The House bill, which passed 417-3 Wednesday, would close the St. Anthony Lock and Dam.

Before the vote, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota's 8th District said the measure was "the last, best chance to protect all the lakes and the waterways going north of there," Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Among the three "no" votes was Minnesota 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson. MPR said Peterson voted against the bill because House Republicans didn't include funding for a flood mitigation project in Roseau.

The legislation -- which was a provision in an $8 billion water resources bill to fund U.S. ports and water projects -- had the support of environmentalists, sportsmen and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Opponents of the bill say it is overreaching, noting the threat of Asian carp is low because the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and other northern Minnesota waters are not connected to the Upper Mississippi River watershed.

Legislators will next work on merging the bill with the U.S. Senate version. That measure, passed in May, had the support of both U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

The Minnesota DNR has been actively looking into ways to keep Asian carp at bay. The agency signed a deal in June for the design of an electronic barrier for the Ford Lock and Dam on the Mississippi River.

Last week, construction crews began installing massive steel gates at the Coon Rapids Dam in efforts to prevent the spread of the invasive species.

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