SF 2343 Would Deliver $10 Million to Local AIS Efforts if PassedPublished by forester on Sat, 03/08/2014 - 12:09
Since 2009 Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates have urged the Minnesota Legislature to provide reliable, ongoing funding for local AIS efforts. Today, with the introduction of S.F. 2342, Senators Rod Skoe and Ann Rest have responded with an innovative solution to fund a comprehensive statewide plan to stop the continued spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Representative Ann Lenczewski will be introducing a House companion bill early next week.
One of the biggest holes in Minnesota's AIS plan is the lack of adequate funding at the local level. Local lakeshore owners and governmental units have been raising and spending millions of dollars in an effort to protect the public waters. Resources have been stretched thin to pay for inspection at boat landings, road-side check stations, decontamination units and staff. Protection at landings has been spotty and uneven based on the local resources available instead of risk. Currently, if a boat is discovered to be infested with zebra mussels or spiny water flea, no one knows where to send it to be cleaned. Permanent, regional decontamination units are a keystone of any effective program to lower risk.
S.F. 2342 sends money directly to local counties to meet all these needs.
- Sends $10 million to counties for AIS work,
- Money is apportioned (50%) based on the number of watercraft ramps and (50%) based on the number of watercraft trailer parking spaces at those ramps. Areas with higher need are apportioned greater funding,
- A county that receives funding must use the money solely to, "prevent the introduction of or limit the spread of invasive species at all access sites within the county, regardless of ownership or management,"
- Funding begins in 2015 and thereafter.
This has been a long road. Due to the time and energy of many dedicated Lake Advocates, we are nearing a solution. What happens in St. Paul does impact us out on our docks or the lake. Through continued focused advocacy, Legislators have become engaged and developed an innovative solution to putting AIS funding where it will do the most good - on the ground at Minnesota's boat ramps and water access sites.
You, and thousands of others are protecting Minnesotans' Lake Heritage today and for future generations. It is work of which we can all be very proud.