The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has released an updated draft of a proposed Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Management Plan and is seeking public comment on the proposal.
Over 180 AIS from around the world have made their home in the Great Lakes Basin, ranging from fish to invertebrates, from microscopic organisms to aquatic plants.
Some of the more commonly known AIS in Michigan waters include Eurasian watermilfoil; purple loosestrife; round goby; sea lamprey; spiny water fleas; and zebra mussels.
But these are just a few of the state’s 180 AIS. Many of them are posing a threat to the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland waters by competing with native species for food and habitat; preying on native species; disrupting ecosystem stability; impacting water quality, as well as commercial and recreational activities; and costing millions of dollars in prevention and control measures.
Michigan’s original AIS State Management Plan was completed in 1996 and was last updated in 2002. Since knowledge of AIS prevention and management issues has evolved, DEQ officials decided it’s time to update the plan to improve the state’s efforts battle against AIS.
“Program collaboration is critical to the success in accomplishing the goals of the AIS State Management Plan: Preventing new invaders, limiting the spread of AIS, early detection and rapid response, and management and control,” said DEQ Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Sarah LeSage. “To be successful, we need to have collaboration between not only our state agencies but with our partners, including other states and the general public. Recreational boaters and anglers are our eyes. They’re going to be the ones to see something first.”
Using funds from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, the updated AIS management plan draft was written over the past year with input from DEQ staff and managers, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) personnel.
“It’s something we want to have our partners and the public look over to make it better and to fill in the gaps of things we might have missed,” LeSage said. “We are looking forward to getting responses from the public on how we can strengthen the plan.”
A public meeting on the plan is scheduled from 12:45 to 4:45 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Best Western Plus in Lansing. This meeting will provide more background on the AIS State Management Plan and give interested parties an opportunity to provide feedback and comments.
The meeting is open to the public and intended for anyone with a vested interest in and/or concern about AIS issues in Michigan. Breakout sessions will provide participants the opportunity to share comments on AIS issues associated with boating and ballast water, organisms in trade and habitat alteration, AIS management and control, and early detection and rapid response.
While there is no fee to attend the public meeting, advance registration is requested.
The draft AIS State Management Plan is available for review at www.michigan.gov/deqaquaticinvasives.
Comments can be submitted through May 1.
For more information, contact LeSage at email@example.com.
LeSage said state officials hope to have a final updated plan completed by the end of the year.