Last week, Ohio’s candidates for governor appeared at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance rally in Columbus. While there, they met with a panel of Ohio outdoor writers. I was able to ask both Republican John Kasich and Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland two questions, one about the future of Grand Lake St. Marys and the other about Ohio State Parks.
Following are their answers to these questions and another from the panel. (Questions and answers have been shortened to accommodate space.)
Q. What do you see happening at Grand Lake St. Marys to solve the blue/green algae crisis?
Kasich: When Grand Lake St. Marys is hurting, we’re all hurting. It doesn’t matter where it is in Ohio, we have to take care of our assets.
I understand the farmers are getting on board. We must have a consistent step-by-step program to eliminate runoff.
Strickland: We are taking the situation at Grand Lake St. Marys very seriously. It has been a very painful experience for many people surrounding the lake and it has disrupted fishing, swimming, camping and recreational boating.
Our first concern has been for human health and safety … and the pets around the lake. Right now we are trying some pilot projects to try to remediate the current problems. At the same time we are trying to understand what caused the problem to find a long-term solution.
Q. Considering the poor condition, low staffing and loss of services at Ohio State Parks, would you support a dedicated source of revenue for them?
Strickland:We are going through the worst recession any of us have experienced in more than 70 years. In the midst of the recession, we have to provide the best services we can under the circumstances. Parks are just one of the problems we have. Once the economy recovers we will be able to look at all of these issues, including the parks.
I am proud of the fact that family can go to our parks and enjoy them even if they don’t have a lot of money. I want it to always be that way.
Kasich:We’ve lost 397,000 jobs in Ohio. If we don’t turn around the job picture, everything’s in trouble. If we bring back jobs, the economy changes and a rising tide lifts all boats.
It makes sense to look for other ways to finance state parks, but until we can look at it under better conditions, there’s not much we can say about it.
Q.With the president and the mayor of Chicago reluctant to close the locks at the Chicago shipping channel, what are you doing to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes?
Kasich:The closing of the shipping canal locks should already have been done. This is a very serious problem. In Ohio, we have to protect Lake Erie from all invasive species. It’s our jewel. So whatever has to be done to stop carp from getting in should happen immediately.
We need a person in the governor’s office or DNR to do nothing but monitor all aspects of Lake Erie.
Strickland: I attended a meeting that including all Great Lakes states and Canada. I learned some things I didn’t know, including they have identified 37 places where carp could get into the Great Lakes, but the biggest threat right now is the Chicago shipping canal.
My position is the canal needs to be closed and we need to address these other points as soon as possible.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a tragedy, but eventually we will recover. If Asian Carp get into the Great Lakes it could cause a situation from which we might never recover.
Lake Erie is particularly vulnerable because it is warm, shallow and would be good habitat for them to spawn.