By Paul J. Sniadecki
MLSA Board Director
NOTE: Definition of “Benchmark” from Merriam-Webster:
a) something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged;
b) a point of reference from which measurements may be made.
This monthly MLSA newsletter and The Michigan Riparian Magazine provide on-going coverage of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) issues around our home state of Michigan. Most often the news has not been promising about actual preventative measures being deployed. Many readers, including myself, have asked the questions:
- Is Michigan doing enough to prevent AIS in its over 11,000+ inland lakes?
- What are other states doing?
The truth is that many states have implemented pro-active and stringent requirements to stop AIS infection and contamination in their water bodies. Perhaps the time has come for Michigan to rapidly “benchmark” relative to prevention practices occurring in other states, and then quickly implement even the most stringent legislation and administrative rules/procedures
In the real world, results-based leaders embrace bench marking. They adapt and do what has been successful for others. Many times they also go a step beyond what the leaders are doing, as a tactic to become the new market/technology “leader.“ Results based leaders also rarely fall into the trap of “analysis paralysis.”
If the Michigan legislature and DNR/DEQ were to begin bench marking for AIS prevention for inland lakes, where are some of the obvious places to look? The following is a brief synopsis of easily located information. Most likely there are additional states with some of the following requirements in place, or are in the process of implementation:
FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION VIA WATER CRAFT STICKERS: Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Washington State, Nevada, and Minnesota.
MANDATORY AIS INSPECTIONS with DECONTAMINATION / DISINFECTION : Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington State, Lake George New York, Wyoming, Minnesota, Vermont, Utah, and New Mexico.
STATE FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION: Since 2014, the Minnesota Legislature provides $10 Million to local counties for specific purpose of locally controlled activities for AIS prevention. Wisconsin uses $4.5 Million for AIS each year, sourced 100% from fuel gas tax. California uses $5.98 Million for AIS prevention, with majority of the funds coming from water craft registrations and “mussel stickers.”
COORDINATED and FREE STATE WIDE ACTION FOR AIS: Since 2017, Minnesota University Extension has conducted a “Starry Trek” each August to search for infestations of the AIS Starry stonewort. In 2018, 225 trained volunteers searched 187 lakes of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. They found one (1) new infestation which raised the Minnesota DNR maintained database total to 14 lakes with Starry stonewort . The “trek” took place at essentially the same time around the state and generated media attention to the challenges presented by all AIS. The Minnesota DNR maintains a verified database listing all water bodies in Minnesota that are AIS infested, with only less than 7% of Minnesota’s lakes on the infested waters list.
In summary, it is clear there are actions that Michigan can take to prevent the spread of AIS. Is it time to benchmark? What can you do help make that happen?