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Work could start this fall on berm through Indiana marsh to block Asian carp from Great Lakes

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FORT WAYNE, Indiana — Work could start this fall on a nearly 2 mile-long earthen berm through a northeastern Indiana marsh that's considered a possible pathway for Asian carp to reach the Great Lakes.

The berm is meant to block floodwaters that could allow the voracious invasive species to jump from the Mississippi River watershed into a Great Lakes tributary in Eagle Marsh southeast of Fort Wayne.

Fleming Excavating's $2 million bid for the project is now undergoing a state contract review, said Phil Bloom, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The length of that review is uncertain, but Bloom said the agency was asking for it to be fast-tracked.

"If everything is in order, they are looking to get started this fall sometime," Bloom told The Journal Gazette. "Everyone is eager to see it get moving."

An Army Corps of Engineers report in 2012 found Eagle Marsh presented a medium potential as an entry point for Asian carp into the Great Lakes. A chain-link fence was placed in the marsh as a stopgap measure in 2010 in hopes of preventing Asian carp in the Wabash River from reaching the Maumee River, which enters Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio.

Crews could start clearing vegetation this fall and begin building the 9,100 feet of berm next year, Fleming Excavating estimator Doug Bergdall told The News-Sentinel.

All work must be completed by Sept. 15, 2015.

Fleming would have to start work by Oct. 31 or wait until spring, the bid specifications said. Beginning in November could disturb hibernating animals, said Betsy Yankowiak, director of preserves and programs for the Little River Wetlands Project, and some work could be delayed through August 2015 to allow for animal hatching.

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