by Scott Brown
ML&SA Executive Director
Earlier this summer, Governor Snyder and the Michigan state legislature came to an agreement on an initial funding package earmarked for the battle against a now decades old invasion of aquatic invasive species. Although the Governor had requested $6M for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, a more fiscally conservative legislature agreed to $5M. A significant portion of the revenue will be utilized to hire an additional sixteen full-time employees to bolster aquatic invasive species related activities at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources. The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes will also receive funding to enhance its efforts to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species within the waters of the Great Lakes. A relatively small grant program will also be created to fund aquatic invasive species remediation projects within inland lakes. While Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance applaud the governor and the state legislature for finally recognizing (albeit with only modest funding) the on-going ecological threat posed by aquatic invasive species to the ecological, social, cultural and economic value of our freshwater legacy, as a matter of practicality we would argue that five million dollars is a woefully inadequate sum with which to adequately address an issue which continues to escalate with each passing year. The vast number of inland water bodies within Michigan hosting one or more exotic aquatic invasive species presents an enormous natural resource management challenge. Effectively managing the ecological impacts and spread of aquatic invasive species within the waters of Michigan and the Great Lakes will require a well funded and intensely coordinated public-private collaborative effort. Until this year, state funding for aquatic invasive species management and control projects has been nearly absent. In light of the fact that Michigan’s private lakefront property owners have shouldered the twenty five million dollar per year burden for managing aquatic invasive species within inland lakes for over sixty years with no financial support from either the State of Michigan or the recreational boating community. it is time for Governor Snyder and the state legislature to recognize the seriousness of the aquatic invasive species problem within in our inland waters and respond by providing state funding levels that are adequate to realistically addressing the problem. Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance will continue to address the issue of improved aquatic invasive species funding in Lansing, lakefront property owners and stakeholders of our inland waters can assist in this effort by contacting Governor Snyder and their respective state legislators and letting them know that the aquatic invasive species problem in Michigan is much more significant than is reflected in a much too modest five million dollar state funding program.