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New study funded by Great Lakes communities underway on Asian carp

Groups that represent states and cities on the Great Lakes kicked off a two-million-dollar study yesterday on keeping the invasive Asian carp away.

The Army Corps of Engineers is already studying the topic - but the groups say the new study will move at a more urgent pace. It will look at the best ways to cut off the connection between the carp-infested Mississippi River and Lake Michigan at Chicago.

The Army Corps is working on a long-term strategy to close or reduce the connections between the two major waterways. But that $25-million study won't be done until 2015 - and many Great Lakes advocates say that's way too slow. They say action is needed soon, to prevent the bloated carp from gobbling up food and native fish on the Great Lakes and ruining the Midwest's biggest fishing and tourism industries.

The Great Lakes Commission and the Saint Lawrence Cities' Initiative are conducting the new study. They say it could provide information to help the Army Corps move more rapidly. Six private foundations are funding the new study - and the groups have hired experts in fish biology, hydrology, engineering, and related areas. The two groups support the idea of separating the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River basins - something the federal government has not endorsed yet.

John Goss of the White House Council on Environmental Quality says he welcomes the new study, and says federal agencies are providing advice for it.