Environment and Natural Resources Omnibuzz Bill - a big deal for water

MN DNR Funding and Lake Association AIS Grants Restored, MAISRC Stabilized

In 1989, after eurasian water milfoil, Minnesota’s first invasive species, was discovered in Lake Minnetonka the state created a $5 surcharge on three year boat registrations to fund efforts to control further Aquatic Invasive Species, AIS, spread. From the late 1980s until 2014 the MN DNR, using funds from this surcharge, provided about $800,000 in matching grants to help defray the costs to lake associations from managing invasive aquatic plants. Starting in  2015 the MN DNR began cutting these grants progressively, zeroing them out in 2017.

As the number, complexity, distribution and the threat of AIS have grew since 1989, DNR AIS budgets began to slip into the red.

MLR advocated for a long overdue increase in this AIS surcharge to; 1) restore DNR budgets, 2) restore aquatic invasive species plant management grants to lake associations, 3) provide reliable and ongoing funding for the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, MAISRC, at the University of Minnesota.

MLR sees a comprehensive statewide program as a three legged stool between active partners; MN DNR must provide permitting, oversight, technical assistance and core functions, lake associations are the primary volunteers and lake managers, and MAISRC must provide the innovative science and improved best management practices.

MLR advocated for an increase from $5 to $20 for an AIS surcharge on a three year boat registration. While this was the MN House position, the MN Senate included a smaller increase, but directed general fund revenue to these priorities. The final compromise signed into law by Governor Walz includes an increase in the AIS surcharge from $5 for a three year registration to $10.60. This will restore the DNR AIS account and partially restore the AIS management grants to lake associations.

Grants to MAISRC are funded from both the general fund and what is known as the heritage enhancement account in the game and fish fund, providing $510,000 for the next two years for MAISRC to, “to prioritize, support, and develop research-based solutions that can reduce the effects of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others.”  

In addition, $4 million from the Environmental Trust Fund, which receives proceeds from the Minnesota State Lottery, is granted, “to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to support the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center in developing solutions to Minnesota's aquatic invasive species problems through research, control, prevention, outreach, and early detection of existing and emerging aquatic invasive species threats. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2023, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.”

Other projects of note supported by funds from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, ENRTF, include:

  • Restoring Native Mussels in Streams and Lakes
  • Determining Influence of Insecticides on
    Algal Blooms

  • Quantifying Microplastics in Minnesota's
    Inland Lakes

  • Restoring Impaired Lakes through
    Citizen-Aided Carp Management

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