by Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
Michigan has an Invasive Species Program which is a joint effort of the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD); Natural Resources (DNR); and Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
MDARD, DNR and EGLE share responsibility for invasive species policy, regulation, education, monitoring, assessment, management and control. These departments provide oversight and guidance for the aquatic invasive species (AIS) and terrestrial invasive species “core teams” in alignment with the priorities of the administration and the department directors.
To ensure progress and accountability for the funding provided, annual reports are required from the DNR in compliance with Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.41323 and by EGLE in compliance with NREPA 324.3104(3).
The 2021 Michigan Invasive Species Annual Report highlights the program’s goals and accomplishments regarding invasive species prevention, management and outreach; the status of prohibited and restricted species in Michigan; and recommendations for furthering Michigan’s Invasive Species Program. For the first time, this report also provides specific legislative recommendations that could provide relief for riparians on inland lakes and streams.
“Riparian friendly” Legislative Recommendations included in the State’s 2021 Aquatic Invasive Species program Annual Report are:
1) Supporting and expanding the invasive species fund in Part 413 of the NREPA to address emergency/rapid response. Modify the existing statutory language under 324.41311(4) to provide funding for invasive species emergency response activities. The report recommends that language be modified in three ways: 1) Include EGLE as an agency able to use funds since the invasive species program is cooperatively implemented by the three departments, where EGLE has responsibilities related to emergency response. 2) Include emergency response as an eligible activity for which the fund can be used. Specific criteria for use of emergency response funds would be developed. 3) Consider allocation to the invasive species fund for emergency response.
2) Supporting local AIS prevention and control in inland lakes. Modify the existing statutory language under 324.414 to allow for the broader protection of inland lakes from aquatic invasive plants. The report recommends that language be modified in three ways: 1) Include aquatic invasive species prevention, monitoring and inland lake management plan development as eligible activities for grant funds. 2) Remove statutory application and award deadlines and limits on grant administration expenditure limits, which prohibit EGLE from properly implementing the grant program. 3) Bolster the Inland Lake Aquatic Invasive Plant Control and Eradication Fund over time.
While none of the above recommendations will take away the AIS currently in your lake, or require an AIS decontamination/disinfection station for all lake/stream access points, but they could help provide partial funding for AIS treatment in the future. The expansion of the “Early Detection/Rapid Response” (EDRR) could ensure State assistance before new AIS infestations overpower your lake’s habitat.
MLSA has started conversations with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) so we can work together to bring attention to these recommendations and create traction for legislation. We need your help to build support and interest from other organizations. We also need your help to begin building support among your state legislators. With the major election occurring on November 8, 2022, now is the time to ask the candidates if they support the AIS recommendations made by MDARD, DNR, and EGLE. If the candidates need a copy of the Annual Report, have one handy to share with them:
It’s time we start making progress in dealing with AIS in Michigan.