Primarily attributed to the overland transport of small-craft boats, recreational boaters are known to play a key role in the unintentional introduction of an increasingly diverse array of often harmful exotic aquatic invasive plant and animal species within thousands of public boating accessible inland lakes in Michigan. A multitude of problems associated with the introduction of aquatic invasive species have been compounded by the fact that neither the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are presently capable of providing any level of funding assistance to lakefront communities striving to protect valuable public natural resources from the often deleterious influences of exotic species.
In the absence of state funding, or other viable funding options, lake associations and township officials are therefore left little choice but to work together in order to deploy Public Act 188, the Township Public Improvements Act, that provides township officials with the means to assess inland lake property owners for the cost of managing or controlling aquatic invasive species (AIS). Recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness associated with Michigan’s only AIS funding mechanism, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pro-actively seeking to establish a viable and sustainable means of stakeholder-based funding that would permit recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute to funding earmarked for aquatic invasive species management. Rather than supporting an outright increase in boater registration fees, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is working pro-actively in Lansing to promote the creation of a donation check-off box that would allow recreational boaters to voluntarily contribute funds to support AIS management efforts during the once every three year process of registering their water craft with the Michigan Secretary of State.
The efforts of Michigan Waterfront Alliance are supported by the findings of a number of academic research projects, including the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center sponsored research that is discussed in the previous article, which strongly suggests that the majority of the public stakeholders of our inland lakes, primarily recreational boaters, would in fact be willing to contribute more in terms of resource user fees, for example, in order to support enhanced funding of programs designed to prevent, manage, and control exotic aquatic invasive species.