The Mississipi River is doing better these days, but it still faces challenges and threats, including one that could be imminent.
A report on the state of the river, compiled by the National Park Service and the Friends of the Mississippi River, said the river is cleaner and healthier as it flows through Minnesota in many ways than when the Clean Water Act was passed 40 years ago.
The most visible sign of the river's health is the wildlife it supports. There are more fish in the water, and more bald eagles nesting along its banks.
There are still problems with erosion, runoff and high levels of nitrates. These are problems that can be addressed over time, but there is one threat in particular that should be addressed immediately.
The influx of asian carp is moving up the stream, with DNA?evidence that they have reached as far as the Coon Rapids dam, though no sign of breeding populations in the Twin Cities area.
Asian carp are those large, leaping fish you see in videos from other states. They get riled up by the sound of boat engines and leap about, jumping into boats and knocking into boaters. Their biggest threat, however, is the damage they can do to other aquatic life. They quickly crowd out other kinds of fish, out-eat other species, and damage water habitat.
Minnesota should be pushing hard with other states and federal agencies to control the spread of these fish before they do work their way up the river.