Saturday, October 4, 2014

Grain harvests, aging locks and national security

Here's one for you. It's mainly about the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois rivers, but there are places on the Ohio River where this holds true, too:

     CHICAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - With a record U.S. harvest just coming in, the river transportation system that is at the heart of the nation's farm economy is overstrained by rising demand for shipping capacity, a low barge inventory, and a dilapidated lock system.
     The pressure is building on an inland waterways network that is just one flood, drought or mechanical breakdown from calamity after decades of neglect, industry sources say.
     Looming bumper corn and soybean crops are bringing to light issues that have built for years and which have been exacerbated by new entrants to the marketplace for river logistics, such as producers of crude oil from the nation's shale boom.

Here's the paragraph I found most interesting:

     The Corps has stopped detailing needs at specific locks, citing national security risks.

I wonder what the Corps knows that we don't. Or what it knows that is not related to national security that it doesn't want us to know.

Okay, I'm the skeptical type. It comes from nearly four decades in the news business. I remember in early 2005 when I was helping my older son, Joseph, with a social studies fair project. We were taking pictures of a railroad bridge in our area when on off-duty policeman stopped and asked us why we were so interested in a bridge.

I could say more, but I won't, in the interest of national security. Why give terrorists any ideas?

Beware of aquatic invaders

I was at the boat ramp at the mouth of the Guyandotte River here in Huntington, W.Va., the other day and saw a sign had been nailed to a utility pole. A family was reading it, so I did not get closer. Today, though, I had the park all to myself, so I checked the sign out. It basically is a warning about invasive species.

Here, I've taken each of the three parts of the sign and broken them out as their own images.

Zebra mussels were supposed to be an ecological disaster until ducks learned they were tasty. I don't know if anything has found Asian carp to please its palate. We can always hope.

Speaking of which, each fall we used to have a lot of Asian lady beetles around here. I haven't seen many of them since stink bugs moved in.