AIS Advisory Committee Releases 2013 Recommendations for DNR Roundtable

 Today the Statewide AIS Advisory Committee, formed by DNR COmmissioner Landwehr releases its 2013 Annual Report for the DNR Roundtable in Bloomington MN.

After a year of study and discussion, the AIS Committee makes set of reccommendations to MN DNR and MN Legislature to improve Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species programs with the goal of protecting and improving Minnesota's precious surface water resources.

 

2013 AIS Advisory Committee Annual Report

 

WHY SHOULD WE CARE? 

“Minnesota” means “sky-tinted waters” and water is central to Minnesotan’s lifestyle, to Minnesota’s economy, and to Minnesota’s heritage. 

Fishing alone supports 43,000 jobs in Minnesota yearly and outdoor recreation generates $4 billion annually. 

In over 250 taxing districts, water-related real estate makes up more than half the tax base, paying for schools, roads, and other critical infrastructure. Surface water resources are critical to many communities across the state for drinking water, fire fighting, and agricultural irrigation. Lakes, rivers, and wetlands draw millions of visitors to Minnesota each year. Healthy lakes and rivers are a core Minnesota value and cornerstone of Minnesota’s economy. 

Minnesotans value water. They voted to increase sales taxes in 2008 by passing the historic Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. 

Aquatic Invasive Species, (AIS) threaten these values and compromise Minnesota’s way of life, economy, and future. But only $8.5 million/year is being spent to protect our lakes and rivers from AIS. 

Since 2008 the Clean Water portion of the Legacy Fund has appropriated almost $400 million dollars for testing, enhancing and restoring impaired surface waters in the state. Unfortunately, even as Minnesota makes historic investments in water conservation, AIS threatens to reverse this progress. 

Unlike water bodies that become impaired with nitrogen or phosphorus, there are currently no good tools to sustainably control or remove aquatic invasive animals such as spiny water flea, rusty crayfish, or zebra mussels. Aquatic invasive plants remain nearly impossible to eradicate once established. The costs of mitigating, managing, or coping with these pests are rapidly increasing. As an example, the ongoing, aggregate cost to the Great Lakes due to AIS infestation is over $100 million annually.1 The costs to reverse or prevent zebra mussels from fouling water and other industrial works on the Great Lakes alone totaled $5 billion by the year 2000.2 

1 Rosaen, Alex L., Grover, Erin A., Spencer, Colby W., The Costs of Aquatic Species to the Great Lakes States, Anderson Economic Group, LLC, March 5, 2012. 

2 www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/pr96/mar96/noaa96-11.html DNR STATEWIDE AIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE 2013 ANNUAL REPORT 

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Most Damaging Result of Zebra Mussels: 

They filter the water and remove plankton that would otherwise provide food for fish and other aquatic life. 

Minnesota has an opportunity to take action and avoid the crippling costs endured in other areas. The best and cheapest solution is to keep AIS out of a water body when possible. Finding safe and economic ways to control AIS in infested waters would be enormously beneficial as well. 

Minnesota has been battling AIS since the 1940s with the introduction of the common carp. Today Zebra mussels pose the most urgent need. In 2005 the DNR designated only 7 water bodies as infested with zebra mussels. Today over 170 are designated. 

A successful strategy to this complex AIS situation will be holistic, incorporating multiple scientific disciplines and multiple public, private, and business partners. Minnesota’s AIS strategies must be updated to cope with the onslaught of new invaders, to fill in loopholes that allow for unintentional spread, and to prepare for future threats. There will likely be no single silver bullet to prevent the zebra mussel spread, but rather a combination of strategies towards a better solution. 

AIS MISCONCEPTIONS 

One of the obstacles Minnesota faces in developing and implementing comprehensive statewide AIS strategies are misperceptions held by policy makers and the public. 

To those that say Minnesota cannot be successful controlling the spread of AIS, we, the members of the Statewide AIS Advisory Committee, chosen from diverse regions and personal and professional experience with AIS, unanimously disagree. Minnesota not only can be successful, but must be successful in order to protect a way of life and economy based upon healthy and vibrant water ecosystems. 

Some say that Minnesota has too many lakes to protect, but research indicates that other areas with as many lakes and even greater variations in topography have demonstrated success.

1 USGS http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/SpeciesAnimatedMap.aspx?speciesID=5 

Some say that Minnesotans have too many boats, but we see instead an opportunity to leverage personal self-interest and to develop a reliable, ongoing funding source. DNR STATEWIDE AIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE 2013 ANNUAL REPORT 

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Some say that birds transport AIS. Researchers have concluded that this is not the case. The primary AIS vectors are human pathways, although important specifics remain unknown and vary by species and situation.

2 WI DNR http://dnr.wi.gov/news/weekly/Article_Lookup.asp?id=2495 

Some say that effective strategies will be too expensive, to which we respond that significant underdeveloped opportunities exist to involve the private sector, an army of volunteers, and well-developed organizations. Better cultivation of potential partners could add considerable savings and increase effectiveness. 

The wealth that Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and wetlands generate justifies considerable investment in their protection by preventing the further spread. 

Public officials must balance current expenditures against public assets such as our surface water, native fisheries, the economic opportunity and ecological health Minnesotans now enjoy. We have an obligation as a state to leave our water resources intact for future generations to enjoy. We are known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. Minnesota must provide lake and river protection in the most robust manner. 

COMMITTEE CHAIR LETTER 

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in” (an old Greek Proverb) 

As chairperson of the Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee, I present this proverb to all who enjoy the natural treasures of this great state of ours as a challenge. The challenge is that we must preserve what we have, protect what we need, and improve what we can. As a proud grandparent, I believe we must accept this challenge not only for ourselves but also for our grandchildren and their children. The grandeur and beauty of our state’s natural resources must be preserved for us and for our future generations. 

It is with this in mind that I want to thank all of my fellow committee members and DNR staff who for this past year have worked so diligently to find solutions to the very serious problem of Aquatic Invasive Species in our state. I especially wish to thank DNR Commissioner Landwehr for the opportunity to make a difference in the future of this great state. It is through his foresight that this committee was formed on the premise that the sustainable future of our state’s natural resource lies in the hands of its citizens. I DNR STATEWIDE AIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE 2013 ANNUAL REPORT 

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also want to thank all of the organizations that have already taken up this challenge. It is from their efforts that we are able to prepare for the battle ahead with the certainty of success. 

A very wise and devoted person once asked these questions: “If not now, When? If not here, Where? If not I, Who?” Here in lies the challenge. We must as Minnesotans do our share, however small it may seem. But, when added together the combined outcome can be great. The challenge for the committee members in this next year will be to bring forward ideas and recommendations to the DNR that will provide the sustainable funding needed to battle these invaders, to review current policies and practices to insure that they are efficient and effective and to improve upon them where possible. I know that each member of this committee shares the devotion and passion to make a positive difference for our children’s future as well as our own. 

As we enter into this new year, we need to follow the advice of the first chief of the US Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot who stated “The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.” With this I challenge all who love the glorious bounty of this state’s natural resources to be engaged in the issues and to do whatever you can to assist in this most important endeavor. The possibilities are truly great. 

Sincerely, 

Robert E. Olsen; DNR Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee Chairman 

RECOMMENDATIONS TO DNR 

On March 28th, 2013 this committee sent a letter to the MN Legislature affirming that “MN can and must stop the spread of AIS.” 

The effectiveness of AIS inspection/decontamination is not “one size fits all.” Different boats represent different levels of risk and pose different challenges both in inspection and decontamination. There is a need to differentiate in policy or statute best 

management practices and decontamination methods. 

An effective AIS prevention program on urban lakes will look 

different than AIS control in remote areas, but basic, proven 

science-based protocols need to be established statewide so there 

is uniformity for the user. 

There is a need to control (inspect/decontaminate if needed) 

watercraft from out of state and the committee encourages the DNR 

to work with other agencies like the Department of Transportation to 

utilize existing infrastructure and personnel to increase protection. 

(Note: Good inspection programs may only require an estimated 5% 

of watercraft to undergo decontamination.) 

The current Delegation Agreement poses challenges for local 

government agencies. We encourage the MN DNR to continue working with Local Government Units (LGU) partners to improve the delegation agreement and to launch an education campaign to generate more LGU involvement across the state. 

It can take years for an infested water body to be detected, so Best Management Practices (BMP) need to be used whenever traveling from one water body to another. 

Signage at public water accesses can be improved and standardized. 

DNR STATEWIDE AIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE 2013 ANNUAL REPORT 

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GOALS and DIRECTION FOR 2014 

In 2013 the Committee spent much of our time reviewing current DNR programs, statistics, budgets and research. Towards the end of the year we began to look at AIS programs in other areas to learn what they are doing that might be of use to Minnesota. We suggest that some of the managers who have developed and run effective programs outside of Minnesota be invited to present to the Committee. 

Leverage the energy of private enterprise in AIS control efforts. For instance, if inspection/decontamination was required after leaving infested waters AND decontamination operators/units were certified by the state, the free market would be leveraged to provide effective protection with the best convenience and lowest cost to users. Watercraft and water related equipment could be designed and engineered to improve Minnesota’s biosecurity, reduce cost, and minimize the time required for inspection and decontamination. Committee members are actively working with boat manufacturing associations to reduce risk and facilitate decontamination. 

Greater sharing of information and the opportunity for coordination between DNR departments, other State Agencies, Governmental units including watershed districts, soil and water conservation districts, federal agencies like USGS, USFWS, USFS, NPS, 

and conservation organizations. 

Educate the public and the press with messages 

focused on science, not rhetoric, as a way to manage 

misconceptions surrounding the changes necessary 

to stop the spread of AIS. 

Include AIS information and BPMs at point of sale for 

every buyer of fishing, hunting, boat and trailer 

registration, and aquatic plant management and water 

safety applicants. 

 

DNR Enforcement Officer, 2LT Larry Hanson and his Zebra Mussel Sniffing Canine Partner, Digger 

AIS COMMITTEE 

The DNR Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee was formed to “advise the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on its Aquatic Invasive Species Program.” The 15 members selected to serve on the advisory committee, and the 5 ex-officio members represent a broad range of personal and professional experiences including bait dealers, county commissioners, local governmental units, marina owners, lake associations, conservation groups, anglers, academia, watershed managers, federal agencies, tourism, non-governmental organizations, and resource managers. 

Early in the year, committee members spent a great deal of time reviewing current MN DNR programs and learning more about the various perspectives and AIS experiences of the DNR STATEWIDE AIS ADVISORY COMMITTEE 2013 ANNUAL REPORT 

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members. During late summer, we began to look at research, programs, and policies from other areas of the country and the world, and to refine some general themes we wished to pursue: 

Recognition of the role of social science plays in raising public awareness, 

The need for better risk assessment and decontamination strategies for different categories of watercraft, 

Closer monitoring and enforcement avenues for second party sales of water related equipment, 

A deeper understanding of the diverse stakeholders and the concerns each brings to the AIS issue. 

 

QR Code to access Advisory Committee Website and more committee information

COMMITTEE ADVISORSBarten, John 

Delano 

Natural Resources Director - Three Rivers Park 

Botzek, Gary 

Elk River 

Association Manager/lobbyist 

Byron, Jerry 

Waseca 

Vice President Alumacraft Boat Company 

Conzemius, Pat 

Blaine 

Wildlife Forever 

Crabb, Rachael 

Minneapolis 

Water Quality Specialist - Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board 

Dotta, Matt (Oct '13) 

Park Rapids 

Hubbard County Commissioner 

Fischburg, Barb Halbakken 

Detroit Lakes 

Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations 

Forester, Jeff 

Minneapolis 

Executive Director- MN Lakes & Rivers Advocates, Writer 

Green, Jay 

Mound 

Software engineer/systems architect 

Grob, Ken 

Park Rapids 

Retired Educator 

Guetter, Tera - VICE CHAIR 

Detroit Lakes 

Watershed District Administrator 

Jabbour, Gabriel 

Orono 

Lake Service Provider; Owner 

Marko, Dr. Michelle 

Moorhead 

Asst Prof Biology/Environmental Studies; Concordia College, Moorhead, MN 

Olsen, Robert E. - CHAIR 

Canby 

Lincoln County Environmental Administrator 

Oswald, Greg 

Ellendale 

Oswald Fisheries; Owner 

EX-OFICIO MEMBERS 

Alterpeter, Carol 

Brainerd 

NW and Central Region Manager Explore Minnesota 

DeSchampe, Norman 

Grand Portage 

Grand Portage Band 

Hoff, Mike 

Eagan 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife - St. Paul 

Jensen, Douglas 

Duluth 

Seagrant; Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator 

Sorenson, Dr. Peter 

St. Paul 

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) 

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