Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 - 5:55
Monday, September 20, 2010 - 14:50
When stimulus dollars are spent on environmental projects, it may not appear that there’s any economic benefit. But look again. . .
Let’s play a little word/picture game. Say we asked you to close your eyes and think of the first stimulus-related image that comes to mind. Did you think about carp? June suckers? You may have, as the June sucker is pictured here. But we doubt it (truth is, we never even heard of June suckers until a couple of days ago).
Here’s why we even bring up these fauna. Recently $100,000 in stimulus funds went to supplement funding for a program to remove carp from Utah Lake. This would, in turn, help the now-endangered June sucker recover its natural habitat. Actually, carp don’t prey on the June sucker themselves, but their habit of rooting up lake bottom vegetation eliminates the natural hiding places for young June suckers. And that’s bad news for the June Sucker population.
The goal is to reduce the carp population by 75%. Unfortunately, there aren’t many sufficient uses for the carp for the program to fund the fish removal by selling them. But that doesn’t mean the program is without economic impacts. Because the carp are constantly churning up the lake bottom, Utah Lake has a reputation as a dirty lake, says Michael Mills, coordinator of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program, and is underutilized recreationally despite being centrally located in the state. With the removal of the carp, more people may visit, and land values in the area may even improve.
To that point, Mills notes, “It is interesting for me to see rather conservative local governments in favor of rather radical environmental measures because they see the economic payoff."