By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

Ron Olson, Chief, Parks and Recreation Division, MI DNR, (the Division responsible and accountable for the proliferation and maintenance of Michigan’s Boating Access Sites) was a co-presenter for the 2019 conference break-out session on “AIS – State Actions and Joint Efforts.” In his remarks, Mr Olson stated the DNR would pilot a program in 2019 to do “AIS sampling at selected state access sites” in order to develop “baseline data on AIS Presence.” The projected outcome of the pilot program appears to be intended  to “inform discussion on feasibility of future detection and response efforts.” Due to time constraints, no in-depth material about the “sampling” was provided.

While any field research done by the DNR is most likely valuable, the “design and execution” of the pilot sampling should be fully explored.  Questions like:

  • What criteria will be used to select sites for “sampling”?
  • Will BAS locations frequented by boaters from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio be fully included?
  • What inspection protocols and training will the field employees receive prior to inspecting?
  • Will sampling inspections take place at peak entry and egress times, or only when convenient?

More than several states have mandatory AIS inspections of watercraft, as well as stringent AIS programs and laws.  Idaho and Montana have had their programs in place for years, and heavily advertise their AIS inspection programs. In fact, one cannot travel into those states in a vehicle without being notified of their AIS laws through road signs and roadside inspection stations.  (NOTE: Michigan currently only posts signs at its borders notifying it is Michigan law to pull over, slow down, and yield to emergency vehicles.)

Both Idaho and Montana release the results of their mandatory watercraft inspections.  In 2018, Montana performed 100,282 inspections for AIS, and found 788 contaminated/infected watercraft.  In 2019 through the end of April, Idaho, performed 6,341 mandatory inspections, finding 13 AIS contaminated/infected watercraft. 

Will the Michigan DNR “sampling” pilot yield similar results?  More or less? It depends. It also appears it will depend on the design and execution of the “sampling” program.

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