By: Paul J. Sniadecki, Board Director
MLSA has continued its follow-up with Sarah LeSage, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Water Resources Division, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) concerning the status of the 2020 Aquatic Invasive Plant Species Grant Fund (AIP) payments to qualifying lakes. Ms. LeSage stated there will be no such payments made for the year 2020 cycle. When pressed for specifics as to how such an important program was being paused for 2020, other officials at EGLE provided the following explanation for MLSA:
“…Public Act 618 of 2018 appropriated $1 million of general fund to the Inland Aquatic Invasive Plant Species and Eradication Program. While MCL 324.41403 created an inland lake aquatic plant species control and eradication fund, there was no revenue statutorily directed to the fund. Given there was no revenue deposited, there is no balance in the fund.
Public Act 671 of 2018 modified Part 414 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to establish the inland lake aquatic invasive plant grant program. This act became effective March 29, 2019. Due to the 3 month timeline between the March 29th effective date, and the statutory deadline contained in Part 414 that sets a July 1st due date for applications, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Water Resources Division developed and implemented an abbreviated grant program in 2019. In 2019 EGLE awarded $12,300 under the newly formed Aquatic Invasive Plant Control Grant Program for 13 projects that met the statutory requirements described in Part 414 to control aquatic invasive plant species using chemical or physical methods.
Following the pilot year of the grant program, EGLE staff began work to evaluate and enhance the program for 2020. The 2020 grant handbook and application materials were prepared and EGLE planned to release these materials in April 2020 to implement an expanded grant program using funds carried over from the previous fiscal year. In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 Emergency and Governor Whitmer’s Executive Directive 2020-03 regarding spending, the Aquatic Invasive Plant Control Grant Program request for proposals was not released as planned.
On July 22, 2020 the department was directed to lapse $975,000 of general fund associated with the Inland Aquatic Invasive Plant Species and Eradication Program due to COVID-19 related budget issues. Since there is no available general fund or funding in the Inland Aquatic Invasive Plant Species and Eradication Fund, the grant program has been paused…”
MLSA remains disappointed that the enabling legislation enacted with great promise in 2018 has gone unfunded and is also paused for 2020. We will continue to work with state officials to secure funding for this important program in future years, as the legislation has not been repealed.