MN COLA Seeks $25.2M for Lake Protection

MN Coalition of Lake Associations, MN COLA, a partner group of MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates, has submitted a $25.2M grant request to facilitate Local Government Units, Tribes and Counties to set up inspection/decontamination facilities as part of a comprehensive strategy to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species, (AIS) like zebra mussels, spiny water flea, Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla and other devastating pests.

Every year, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) makes funding recommendations to the MN Legislature for the approximately $100 million collected in the Outdoor Heritage fund from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesotans in 2008. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is required to spend 99% of the monies collected to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.

Since the Outdoor Heritage fund was started, virtually no monies have been granted for AIS related activities. The FY2015 funding cycle (proposals were due on June 13, 2013) specified AIS as one of two areas of emphasis.

Background on MLR/MN COLA’s AIS prevention approach

Last year MLR and MN COLA worked on a comprehensive statewide plan to stop the spread of AIS based on the idea of 100% inspection of watercraft before they are allowed to enter the public waters of Minnesota. Watercraft not passing inspection must be decontaminated. Another component of the MLR/MN COLA AIS prevention model uses regional AIS inspection/decontamination sites to achieve dramatic cost-efficiencies versus inspecting at each access.

If granted, the MN COLA proposal will provide grants for local and tribal government units as well as the MN DNR to establish regional AIS inspection stations and also acquire capital equipment for decontamination. Regional AIS inspection stations and decontamination equipment are critical components of the MLR/MN COLA model to stop the spread of AIS. Though this proposal, 127 regional AIS inspection stations with decontamination units can be established. In addition, another 50 decontamination units can be placed at existing public accesses.

The MN COLA proposal accelerates the deployment of this critical infrastructure to avoid new AIS infestations. While there are many benefits to stopping the spread of AIS, the following are the most relevant to the mission of the Outdoor Heritage Fund:

  • Avoiding the long-term impact to the fish habitat from zebra and quagga mussels
  • Reducing secondary impacts to waterfowl from zebra and quagga mussels

Widely deploying decontamination capabilities makes it easier for watercraft operators to live up to their personal responsibilities in stopping the spread of AIS.

The proposal also specifically addresses the sustainability and maintenance of these capital investments.

MN COLA is asking all partners, including Local Government Units and Conservation Groups to forward them letters of support that they can distribute to the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Here is a sample letter: Sample Letter of Support for MN COLA Proposal

Here is the MN COLA Proposal Summary: MN PROPOSAL SUMMARY

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