Invasive Species Recommendations Released

This past month, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality released the Final Report and Recommendations of the Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council.
In 2011, the legislature and the Governor created the Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council (AIS Advisory Council) and tasked it with studying and providing recommendations to combat some of the most damaging aquatic invasive species issues facing the state. The Council consisted of appointees representing a broad spectrum of interests including state agency, environmental, conservation, academic, aquaculture, business, and agriculture. MUCC was privileged to represent the interests of its members and the conservation community on the council.
The Council was tasked by the legislature and Governor with providing recommendations on the State of Michigan’s AIS State Management Plan, Ballast Water, Organisms in Trade, Phragmites control and management, and various funding options.
AIS State Management Plan – the Council overall supported Michigan’s AIS State Management Plan, but did provide recommended changes to the plan’s definition of aquatic invasive species to keep it consistent with the national invasive species advisory council. The DEQ has since submitted the state’s plan to the Federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.
Ballast Water – the Council reviewed and largely supported the DEQ’s certification of the EPA’s draft Vessel General Permit for ships wishing to discharge ballast water in Michigan waters. However, the Council could not come to a consensus on what water quality levels ballast water should be discharged at and the DEQ was forced to modify their certification.
Education Program for Buyers and Sellers – the Council believed that current national education programs for aquatic species buyers and sellers, such as Habitatitude and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers, are underutilized in Michigan and suggested using these programs to the greatest extent possible, and expanding these programs when feasible. The Council further recommended that the program focus initially on pet and aquarium stores, aquatic plant sellers, water garden suppliers, and boat launch facilities.
Pure Michigan – the Council recommended a partnership between AIS prevention programs – like Habitatitude, Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers, and “Clean, Drain, Dry” – and the Pure Michigan brand to link AIS prevention and awareness to Michigan’s economic success.
Phragmites control and management – currently, a combination of chemical and mechanical control techniques are used to control phragmites, however, given costs and resources involved with using these applications, these methods are not sustainable. The Council recommended focusing chemical and mechanical control to protecting high quality and high value natural resources areas from phragmites invasion and spread. The Council further recommended that the state support and invest in long-term biological control efforts (bio-control), as it is the only viable option for long-term phragmites control. The Council believes that bio-control agents will be available for commercial and agency use in 5 years.
While MUCC was honored to take part on the Council, and felt the discussion and conclusions were worthwhile, much work remains to manage and prevent AIS in Michigan. Asian Carp is still an impending problem in the Great Lakes, new species introduced by ballast water continue to threaten our way of life, and phragmites and other invasive plant species continue to crowd out some of this state’s most beautiful landscapes, and Michigan’s AIS programs continue to be vastly underfunded.
Now the question remains whether or not Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature will act on the AIS Advisory Council’s recommendations, or whether they will gather dust.

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