Council Ponders Sustainable AIS Program Funding Mechanisms
The Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council was created by the state legislature in 2011 in order to provide recommendations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding aquatic invasive species issues. The council consists of nineteen members who represent the interests of regulated entities, citizen organizations, governmental agencies, academia, and citizen stakeholders.
The Council has been tasked with developing recommendations regarding an update of the aquatic invasive species state management plan, funding to implement the plan, prevention of the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, the state’s certification of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (ballast water permit) as well as Phragmites australis control.
The most significant and challenging of the assigned objectives for the Council is to recommend potential funding sources that would allow the State of Michigan to adequately fund and administer a viable and sustainable aquatic invasive species (AIS) program. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality administered program would serve to provide management and control, inspections and enforcement, state and regional program coordination efforts as well as education and public awareness campaigns aimed at thwarting the spread of aquatic invasive species within Michigan’s waters.
Although the Council has yet to publicly reveal its AIS program funding recommendations, it is believed that they may emulate those established in neighboring Great Lakes states. In Wisconsin, for example, a small portion of the gas tax apportioned to boat usage is used to fund an approximately four million dollar per year aquatic invasive species program. In Minnesota, a $5 per boat additional registration fee, a portion of the fee from non‐resident fishing licenses and $725,000 from the state’s general fund, provide approximately two million dollars per year to fund aquatic invasive species programs. In Indiana, a Lake and River Enhancement fund is supported by a fee levy on boat registrations that ranges from $5 to $25 per boat.
The final aquatic invasive species program funding recommendations of the Council would have to be agreed upon and passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor as part of a legislative initiative before becoming law.
Michigan Lake and Stream Associations wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Council and strongly suggests that our state legislature passes into law a robust and sustainable aquatic invasive species program funding mechanism.
To learn more about the important work of the Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council, please visit their dedicated web site by clicking here