Bob Downing

HARRISVILLE TWP.: Asian carp are a long way from Medina County, but federal, state and local plans are taking shape to keep the invasive fish at bay.

Exactly what will be needed to prevent the fish from moving from the Ohio River Basin to the Lake Erie drainage area is not yet known, but preliminary plans will likely be completed in the coming months.

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service is looking at Dewey Hallís 1,700-acre farm south of Lodi near the Medina-Wayne county line, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at a similar potential connection from the Portage Lakes to the Ohio & Erie Canal in Summit County.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer and key staffers on Monday visited Hallís farm, which is at the center of the effort to keep Asian carp out of Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes.

The visit was part of Gov. John Kasichís visit to Medina to deliver his State of the State address. The governorís Cabinet fanned out through the county to meet with residents and tour points of interest.

Potential pathway

Hallís farm is ďa pinch pointĒ in Zehringerís words and a place of major importance in the battle against Asian carp.

The farm with its dark muck soils is one of four potential water pathways in Ohio from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. It is off Garden Isle Road and straddles the divide between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. It drains north to Clear Creek and the West Fork of the Black River that drains to Lake Erie. It drains south near Interstate 71 to Little Killbuck Creek and Repp Run.

The fear is that Asian carp could, at high water and during floods, move from Little Killbuck Creek to the Black River and get into Lake Erie, where the Asian carp would out-compete local fish like walleyes, perch and bass for food.

The farm where Hall grows field corn, soybeans and sweet corn that is sold at Acme stores relies on a complex combination of 6-foot-high dikes built in the 1940s and 1950s by Hallís father, plus ditches and pumps.

What remedies may be needed on Hallís farm are still unknown but could include building new berms, reconfiguring drainage ditches and eliminating or modifying pumping, the experts said.

Hall has pledged to work with the involved agencies to solve the problem and to block the Asian carp.

Those corrective steps may also affect about eight landowners off Franchester Road west of Hallís farm, said Jeff Van Loon of the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District.

That low-lying area appears to drain north and south and could be an added route, he said.

The report on what to do will likely be finished in about two or three months, he said.

Not here yet

Asian carp are probably 300-plus miles from Medina County, said Rich Carter, the ODNRís top fishery expert.

A few individual Asian carp ó four species including the silver and bighead carp ó have been found in the Ohio River near Portsmouth. But breeding Asian carp are still near Louisville, Ky.

Tests were conducted last fall on the Muskingum River Basin that stretches from Akron to the Ohio River to determine if Asian carp are there. The results are still incomplete.

Asian carp are also approaching Chicago and could get into Lake Michigan.

The four Ohio pathways were identified in a 2012 report by the Corps of Engineers. The other two sites are at Mosquito Creek Lake in Trumbull County and at Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer and Auglaize counties.

Carter said the ODNR asked the Corps of Engineers to assess the water connection from Long Lake to the Ohio & Erie Canal on the Akron-Coventry Township line, largely because of the complexity of the hydrogeological system in the Portage Lakes.

Work on that assessment is continuing and will likely be done in a few months, he said.

Ohio is also aggressively monitoring and looking for Asian carp, Zehringer said.

When asked of all the attention brought to the farm on Monday, Hall said, ďSomething always comes up when youíre farming.Ē

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.