MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama is now eligible for up to $100,000 of federal money to help fight invasive aquatic species.
Dave Armstrong with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the initial plan to request these funds from US Fish and Wildlife Services actually started in 2005, but it was never signed by the governor at the time.
Since then, the problem with invasive species of plants and fish has worsened.
“The quicker you can try to control those species or better yet, eliminate them, the better off that is for the system,” Armstrong said to News 19.
He said these nuisance species can cause both short and long-term issues, especially invasive carp, which eat up to 40% of their body weight daily, and they feed on the same food sources as many of the river’s bait fish.
“These fish are going to displace the native species. The shads and the other fish that our bass and crappie our sport fish feed on. And it’s very important to not upset that balance,” Armstrong said.
When the sport fish population is threatened, so is the Tennessee River System’s multimillion-dollar sport fishing industry.
“The economy as far as sportfishing and boating between Guntersville and Pickwick Lake is huge. It’s probably one of the biggest systems I’ve ever worked in, and it’s probably really the biggest system combined in Alabama as far as acreage and water and boating and fishing opportunities, it’s a very big deal,” he said.
Armstrong said the official grant proposal requesting those now-available funds for the 2022 cycle is in the works.
Even if they do not get the full $100,000 available, he said it will still help.
“It will probably be as low as 90-thousand and up to 100,000. That’s the federal portion,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong added The Department of Conservation will match however much they do receive by 25%.
The grant should be submitted in the next couple of weeks.