Common carp are notorious for feeding at the bottom of lakes, tearing up aquatic plants and clouding the water, which changes ecosystems and impacts the food chain. And since no natural predators exist in Minnesota to keep the adult carp population in check, they overpopulate. “They get really big and really hearty and grow real fast,” said Anna Brown, a planner and project manager at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.
This summer, the watershed district and the Minnesota Invasive Aquatic Species Research Center are working to manage the carp population in Six Mile Creek, which leads to Lake Minnetonka’s Halstead’s Bay, where research found what Brown called “staggering” populations of the fish. They’ll remove adult carp; build barriers to regulate their movement; and preserve fish species that feast on carp eggs. It’ll be similar to work that’s successfully controlled the carp population in two other metro area lakes, St. Paul’s Lake Phalen and Chanhassen’s Lake Riley.
All of these efforts were mostly paid for with money out of a fund first approved by voters 30 years ago — and it’s exactly the kind of work that supporters describe as the purpose of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which gets its money from the state lottery.
But now, for the first time in the fund’s history, the money will be used for a much more prosaic purpose: paying off debt on infrastructure projects.