All Posts By

Scott Brown

Spreading Throughout the Great Lakes Region, Exotic Invasive Spiny Water Flea Represent a ‘Clear and Present’ Danger to Michigan’s Inland Lakes

First observed in the waters of Lake Ontario in 1982, the exotic aquatic crustacean known as spiny water flea are a native of Europe and Asia that were first introduced to the freshwaters of North America via the discharge of contaminated ballast water emanating from a trans-oceanic cargo freighter that had entered the Laurentian Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Subsequently detected in Lake Huron in 1984, Lake Erie in 1985, Lake Michigan in 1986, and Lake Superior by 1987, spiny water flea began to appear in a steadily increasing number of inland lakes located throughout the region beginning in 1990. Large inland lakes in the region that now host abundant populations of spiny water flea include Lake George in upstate New York, Minnesota’s Lake in the Woods, the Madison Chain of Lakes located in Wisconsin, and Lake Michigamme, one of Michigan’s largest inland lakes, that is situated in the Upper Peninsula near Marquette.

Microscopic aquatic animals that are known as zooplankton, spiny water flea – scientific name Bythotrephes longimanus, are opaque in color, and are characterized by a single long tail that comprises 70% of their length that on average ranges from one-quarter inch (6 mm) to five-eighths inch (16 mm). The exotic invasive zooplankton species may also be identified by the presence of one to four barbs on their long tail, and by a head whose appearance is dominated by the presence of a large, single black eye. Capable of exponential population growth, and of rapidly establishing sustainable populations in newly invaded lakes, spiny water fleas have evolved to utilize both asexual and sexual means of reproduction. In warm summer waters, each adult spiny water flea is capable of asexually cloning up to 10 new individuals in as little as two weeks. Responding to the cooler waters of mid-to-late fall, male and female spiny water flea reproduce sexually, and produce large quantities of large, robust eggs that settle in lake sediments where they overwinter until the following spring in a dormant state. Spiny water fleas that are cloned, and/or that are hatched from eggs in response to the arrival of warm waters are capable of reaching maturity, and of reproducing within one week of the time they are born. It is important to note that part of the extraordinary ability of the exotic crustacean to successfully spread from lake-to-lake is enabled by the fact that the eggs of the species that are often eaten by minnows that are later captured by fisherman for use as bait, and then transported via trailered watercraft to a new lake are capable of surviving passage through the minnow’s gut, and of later hatching, representing the beginning of a new invasive population.

Preferring mesotrophic (moderately productive) and oligotrophic (low bio-productivity) inland lakes found in northern temperate regions of the earth, spiny water fleas regularly migrate from lower layers of the water column hosting deep, dark, dissolved oxygen starved waters to the well-lit, well oxygenated waters of the upper water column. Optimal water temperature for spiny water flea ranges from 14° – 23° C (57° – 73° F). Intolerant of water temperatures that exceed 26° C (78° F), temperature is known to play a major role in determining their sexual and asexual reproductive efficiency, and their overall abundance within in a given aquatic ecosystem. Preferring freshwater ecosystems, it is important to note that within their native geographic distribution range, spiny water flea are capable of tolerating the brackish water ecosystems that are often located near oceanic coastal areas.

The most significant ecological impact rendered by abundant populations of invasive spiny water flea are derived from the fact that the highly predatory crustacean preys heavily upon native zooplankton, including Daphnia, that represent a critical food source for native fish populations in most northern temperate inland lakes. The aggressively foraging invasive zooplankton species is capable of adversely affecting the growth and survival of young fish such as bluegill and yellow perch by reducing or eliminating native zooplankton species that form the “ground floor” of the aquatic food chain in many northern temperate inland lakes. Research indicates that spiny water fleas are responsible for consuming 1.5 to 5 times the quantity of native zooplankton than is consumed by juvenile yellow perch. This fact is particularly important in light of the fact that most native juvenile fish are incapable of preying upon the invasive zooplankton species due to their extraordinarily long, barbed tails. Abundant invasive spiny water flea populations are also capable of dramatically affecting inland lake ecosystems by reducing or eliminating native populations of native zooplankton species such as Daphnia magna, that in addition to representing an important native food source for juvenile fish, are also known to make important contributions to helping sustain clear water by aggressively foraging upon, and controlling the density of water clarity depriving single cell green algae species knows as phytoplankton.

Transported to new inland lakes by the 95% of recreational fisherman who tow their watercraft from lake-to-lake, spiny water flea attach their long barbed spines to all types of surfaces – including fishing lines, nets, and anchor ropes—and unless boats, trailers, and fishing gear are thoroughly cleaned between each trip by their owner/operators, transient watercraft are capable of carrying exotic invasive spiny water fleas and their eggs between lakes, infecting one lake after another with a highly aggressive invasive species. Due to their relatively small size, spiny water fleas are often very difficult to discern on an individual basis, and are usually detected by the presence of clusters of thousands of spiny water flea that appear as a “bristly glob of jelly with black spots” on monofilament fishing line.

The significant ecological threat posed by the highly invasive zooplankton species is emphasized by the fact that they are capable of exponential population growth, and possess the capacity to irrevocably alter the aquatic ecosystems they invade, and to ultimately diminish the recreational and economic value of affected inland lakes. Based upon their ability to severely disrupt native aquatic ecosystems, and upon the fact that lake managers currently possess no viable means of eradicating, or of even controlling the abundance of the aggressive crustacean, spiny water flea represent one of the most significant biological invaders to have thus far entered the freshwater ecosystem inundated Great Lakes region.

In the case of steadily expanding abundant populations of the exotic invasive crustacean, the only viable means of limiting the ecological impact of the rapidly reproducing species is to attempt to curtail the number of aquatic ecosystems the species successfully invades by encouraging transient fisherman and recreational boaters to thoroughly “clean, drain, and dry” their watercraft, batt wells, fishing equipment, and trailers before towing their boat to a new lake.  For more information on the Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Water program, visit https://www.canr.msu.edu/clean_boats_clean_waters/ .

Proposed MI Senate Legislation Would Eliminate Authority of Local Governments To Approve, and/or Regulate Sand and Gravel Mining Operations

Representing a renewal of an intensive effort that began in 2017, the Michigan Aggregates Association, in consortium with gravel and sand mine operators, and other interested business groups have launched a new push in Lansing to pass legislation that would make it much easier to open and operate a sand and gravel mine near residential communities. If passed into law, the language of Michigan Senate Bills 429, 430, and 431 would act to eliminate the authority of local governments to approve, and void the ability of local zoning officials to regulate mines in a manner that may help to  minimize their negative impact upon the quality of life for residents living in surrounding communities. The proposed legislation would also act to move approval authority for aggregate mines from local governments to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). It is important to note that language embedded in the package of bills would also effectively prohibit EGLE from denying a permit application based solely upon the potential for the proposed surface mining operation to have a negative impact on the water quality of surrounding lakes, streams, wetlands, and/or of groundwater.

Those supporting the initiative, including highway construction contractors, and others currently involved in supporting a large number of projects focused on rebuilding and repairing Michigan’s highways, roads, bridges, and dams argue that their pro-active support for the legislation stems from the fact that they often have to travel relatively long distances to acquire the large quantities of gravel and sand that are required to complete their work. Supporters of the legislation have also argued that the 325 gravel and sand mines currently operating in Michigan are unevenly distributed throughout the state making it difficult for them to efficiently meet the exceptionally high demand for aggregate on a timely basis.

Those opposing the initiative that is being sponsored by the Michigan Aggregates Association, and their allies within the highway construction industry argue that the legislation would effectively eliminate zoning authority and oversight capability from local governments, and allow sand and gravel mining operations to negatively impact local residents, public schools, businesses, and hospitals. It is important to note that several non-profit organizations, including the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Township Association, the Michigan Municipal League, and the Michigan Association of Planning,  and several environmental groups such as the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Metamora Land Preservation Alliance, for example, have joined forces to help ensure that the legislation is not passed into law. Opposition to the controversial legislation also stems from the reality that even though there is a high potential for surface mining operations to contaminate groundwater supplies, and to negatively affect the water quality of surrounding lakes, streams, and wetlands, the proposed legislation would forbid the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy from denying permit applications based solely on this fact.

Readers should “stay tuned” to future Michigan Waterfront Alliance newsletter updates for information regarding the status of the proposed legislation.

Minnesota Leads the On-Going Battle with Exotic Aquatic Invasive Plant and Animal Species

by Scott Brown, MWA Board of Directors

Pro-active Support from the Minnesota State Legislature and an Aquatic Invasive Species Surcharge on Watercraft Registrations Provide the Necessary Resources to Enable an Effective Battle Against Exotic Aquatic Invasive Species

Responding to increasingly widespread infestations of Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, starry stonewort, zebra mussels, and spiny water fleas, that are known to represent a significant public health threat, and that may also severely limit the capacity of affected aquatic ecosystems to support desirable native aquatic plant and animal species, the Minnesota state legislature has acted to establish a well-funded and intensely pro-active Minnesota’s Invasive Species Program.

Providing robust funding appropriations and enabling sustainable funding mechanisms in order to effectively administer programs that are dedicated to curbing the spread and harmful influences of aquatic invasive species, Minnesota’s state legislature seems to understand that rapidly propagating exotic aquatic invaders represent a dire threat to the current and future recreational status and economic value of their state’s vast natural legacy of high-quality inland lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands that forms the basis of  Minnesota’s $16 billion dollar freshwater ecosystem-based tourism industry.

Minnesota’s robust Invasive Species Program includes a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administered Aquatic Invasive Species Control Grant  that is intended to help local entities such as lake associations, watershed districts, cities, and counties fund the control of curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil or flowering rush. Minnesota also administers a program entitled Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Aid that is dedicated to preventing or limiting the spread of non-native, aquatic invasive species at the county level. Revenue provided by the program is allocated based upon each county’s share of watercraft trailer launches, and watercraft trailer parking spaces. The Minnesota Department of Revenue, for example, has certified $135,409 to be utilized for aquatic invasive species prevention efforts in Washington County, Minnesota for 2021. County officials will utilize the funds in partnership with the Washington County Conservation District in order to provide countywide aquatic invasive species control focused operations, including watercraft inspections, early detection, rapid response, and outreach education efforts. It is important to point out that Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention aid program has provided $10 million dollars to Minnesota counties each year since 2014.

Minnesota’s robust spending to support the fight against exotic aquatic invasive species doesn’t stop with the $10 million dollars that is annually appropriates to counties through the AIS prevention aid program, the state legislature also appropriates a $9 million budget to the Department of Natural Resources in order to support operations related to aquatic invasive prevention and enforcement each year. What is particularly important for our readers to understand is that Minnesota funds it’s robust exotic aquatic invasive species management programs in large part by levying a $10.60 aquatic invasive species surcharge on each three-year watercraft registration, a $5.00 aquatic invasive species surcharge on the sale of each non-resident fishing license, an annual AIS control activities dedicated appropriation from the Minnesota state legislature, and a modicum of federal funding. Minnesota’s lake associations spend an additional $1.65 million per year on activities related to the protection of their respective lakes from the potential ravages of exotic aquatic invasive species.

It is important to note that the justification for the establishment of an aquatic invasive species surcharge of $10.60 on every three-year recreational watercraft registration in Minnesota is derived from the fact that recreational watercraft owners utilizing public boating access sites are known to be an important in-water vector for the secondary spread of exotic aquatic invasive species. By often neglecting to inspect their boat, trailer, and related equipment, and/or by failing to take the time to remove visible exotic aquatic plant fragments, or animals such as Eurasian water milfoil, or zebra mussels before transporting their craft to a new public boating access site, recreational boaters are considered major contributors to a growing and increasingly difficult to fund and manage exotic aquatic invasive species related problem that exists in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and throughout the freshwater ecosystem inundated upper Midwest.

The state’s exotic aquatic invasive species control program also includes a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources administered Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species through Behavior Change program that aims to promote the adoption of desirable aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention behaviors and create positive social norms supporting AIS prevention in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s relatively well-funded and robust exotic aquatic invasive species control program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in collaboration with the  Minnesota DNR AIS Advisory Committee, local units of government, native American tribes, surrounding states and Canadian provinces, multi-jurisdictional groups concerned about the spread of aquatic invasive species, academic researchers, and in particular those assigned to the University of Minnesota-based Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center,  Using “innovative science to identify solutions to Minnesota’s AIS problems”, the University of Minnesota-based center’s primary mission is to “develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems; and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others.”

Readers of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance newsletter should look forward to addition articles and information regarding Minnesota’s robust exotic aquatic invasive species management program in the near future…

Amending MI Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451, Passage of House Bill 4035 Will Ensure State of Michigan Payments in Lieu of Taxes to Local Governments for State Owned or Controlled Property

Passed unanimously by the Michigan House of Representatives on March 25, 2021, Bill 4035 amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 (NREPA) as necessary to ensure that certain State of Michigan “payments in lieu of taxes” paid to local governments receive greater priority.. Although the language of House Bill 4035 would not directly affect costs or revenues for affected local governments, passage of the legislation would ensure that NREPA 451 Part 307 – Inland Lake Level structure related special assessment district associated “payments in lieu of taxes” related reimbursements from the state would occur as required by law in the future. Supporters of the legislation, including Michigan Waterfront Alliance, have argued that the root of the problem stems from the fact that special assessment districts under “current payment in lieu of taxes” arrangements are often not prioritized, resulting in revenue appropriation levels that are inadequate to cover state law mandated Michigan Department of Treasury disbursements to local governments. The situation has led to the fact that local governments have often had to sue the State of Michigan in order to receive their respective payments. Under MI NREPA 451, the Michigan Department of Treasury is required by law to pay into the respective treasury of each county where tax-reverted, recreation, forest, or other lands under the control and supervision of the Department of Natural Resources are allocated payments in lieu of taxes in an amount specified in the act. Passage of House Bill 4035 would mandate that MI Department of Treasury disbursements to local governments that occur on or after December 1, 2022 would effectively prioritize payments that have not yet been made.

MI House Bill 4035 unanimously passed in the MI House of Representatives on March 25, 2021, and was reported for consideration by the MI Senate Committee on Natural Resources on April 13, 2021. Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pro-actively working to help ensure that the legislation is passed into law by the Mi State Senate as soon as possible.

To download a copy of MI House Bill 4035, click here

Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters Program Awards $19,800 to Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

by Paige Filice, Michigan State University Extension – February 14, 2021

Seven projects received funding to educate boaters on the importance of cleaning, draining, and drying equipment.

The Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is funding seven outreach projects across Michigan to educate boaters about aquatic invasive species prevention. The awardees include lake associations, watershed groups, local units of government, and other nonprofit organizations. Grant funds will be used to communicate aquatic invasive species prevention information through outreach materials and in-person events. Projects range from the installation of signage at boat launches to boat and trailer cleaning stations with invasive species removal tools.

2021 Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters Funded Projects

  • The Benzie Conservation District will engage boaters through their Aquatic Invasive Species Pathways Program in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee counties. Staff and volunteers will conduct boat washing events at public and private launch sites throughout the boating season and are installing signage at boat access sites.
  • The Black Lake Preservation Society is installing boat and trailer cleaning stations with hand removal tools at three public boat access sites on Black Lake in Presque Isle County. They will be hosting grand opening events at each access site to demonstrate how to use the equipment.
  • The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds is hosting three outreach events with educational materials at popular public access sites along the lower Grand River in the Grand Rapids region. They are also creating a video demonstrating proper boat cleaning techniques.
  • The Michigan United Conservation Clubs is sharing prevention information via their Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine and membership newsletters. They are also incorporating Clean Boats, Clean Waters prevention messaging in three of their “On the Water” volunteer watershed habitat improvement project work days on the Clinton River, Manistee River, and in the Bay Mills Watershed.
  • The Missaukee Conservation District is partnering with the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and the Missaukee Lake Association to host three outreach events on Lake Missaukee and Lake Cadillac. They will also be distributing educational materials at local businesses and popular tourist destinations.
  • The Charter Township of Oxford is installing a user-operated, waterless cleaning station that will be equipped with a weed removal tool, plug wrench, boot brush, and interpretive signage at the Stony Lake Township Park in Oakland County. They will be promoting the cleaning station and invasive species prevention activities via media outlets and at three outreach events hosted at township parks throughout the boating season.
  • The Portage Lake Watershed Forever watershed council in Manistee County is hosting aquatic invasive species education booths at community events throughout the boating season and will be applying parking lot stencils with outreach messaging at popular boating access sites. They are also partnering with local businesses including marinas and bait shops to share educational information.

Since 2006, Clean Boats, Clean Waters has educated and engaged recreational water users in behaviors that will limit or prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Aquatic invasive species are frequently spread unintentionally on boats and trailers and once introduced they are extremely difficult and expensive to manage. Boater outreach is one tool of many used in Michigan to address invasive species issues. This year, grant funding was available for the first time through the program to support local organizations. The Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is a joint effort between Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Funding for the program and this grant opportunity is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The 2021 Clean Boats, Clean Waters funding opportunity was noncompetitive, and complete and eligible applications were funded in the order that they were received until all funds were allocated. Project expenditures range from $1,000 to $3,000 per grantee. Funds may be available next year through the program. If you would like to be notified of future grant opportunities please visit the Clean Boats, Clean Waters grants website.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Office Seeking Candidates to Serve on the Michigan Wildlife Council

The Michigan Wildlife Council is a governor-appointed, public body established by Michigan Public Act No. 246 of 2013. The nine member Michigan Wildlife Council represents a wide range of residents that share a common vision for Michigan’s cherished outdoor traditions – to ensure that they are managed and sustained for future generations. The Michigan Wildlife Council is entrusted with educating the public about the importance of conserving, and effectively managing our state’s vast natural legacy of forests, waters, and wildlife.

As stipulated by Michigan Public Act 246 of 2013, members of the Michigan Wildlife Council are intended to represent various stakeholder groups including hunters and anglers; members of the agricultural, and business communities; representatives from rural areas that are affected by hunting and fishing activities; an individual with a media/marketing background; and the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or a designated representative.

All nine members of the Michigan Wildlife Council are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate.

Readers of this newsletter interested in serving as a member of the Michigan Wildlife Council should immediately contact Mr. MoReno Taylor II of Karoub Associates at e-mail mtaylor@karoub.com .

Michigan Dam Safety Task Force Releases its Final Report

Responding to two dam failures on the Tittabawassee River during record rainfall events that caused catastrophic flooding in Midland and Gladwin counties in May of 2020 that resulted in $250 million in damages, in addition to the fact that the impounded waters of both Wixom and Sanford Lakes were completely drained during the event, Governor Whitmer formed the Michigan Dam Safety Task Force in order to perform a comprehensive review of the status of Michigan’s 2,500 dams. Comprised of dam safety officials, engineers, senior state agency managers and tribal representatives, the 19-member task force recently issued its report comprised of a set of 86 recommendations that includes quadrupling the number of EGLE staff members dedicated to dam safety regulation; hiring additional dam safety inspectors; establishing a $25 million dam safety emergency fund over the course of the next five years; creating a $25 million dam safety emergency fund over the next five years; and establishing a 20-year, $400 million loan fund dedicated to helping dam owners with much-needed maintenance on aging, crumbling, high-risk dams. In addition, the Dam Safety Task Force also recommended that the Michigan state legislature act to help promote dam owner accountability by revising and adapting new laws and rules that would act to clarify the on-going responsibilities of dam owners, and the structural engineers they hire to help inspect and maintain the dams.  Click here to download a copy of the 69-page Michigan Dam Safety Task Force Report that was released on February 12, 2021.

It is important to note that most of Michigan’s 2,500 dams were built many decades ago, and are now in a state of severe deterioration as a result of age, antiquated design, severe erosion, and/or neglect as indicated by the fact that many of the dams have been poorly maintained over the years. Dams in Michigan are regulated by Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, and Part 315, Dam Safety, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Public Act 451. Of Michigan’s 2,500 dams, 813 of which are regulated by Part 315, and 235 are regulated by Part 307.  Dams are regulated by Part 315 when they are over 6 feet in height, and when they serve to impound over 5 acres of water during the design flood.  Dams regulated by Part 307 are structures that were constructed in order to establish and maintain court ordered inland lake levels. Michigan also hosts 99 hydroelectric dams that are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the auspices of the Federal Power Act.

To view an Arc Geographic Information Systems information augmented map of dams regulated by the State of Michigan that is maintained by the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Dam Safety Program, click here . Readers interested in learning more about EGLE’s  Dam Safety Program

Michigan Aggregate Industry and Allies in the State Legislature to Re-Introduce Legislation Depriving Local Units of Government the Right to Deny Aggregate Mining Associated Land Use Permits

by Scott Brown
MWA Board Member

Arguing that Michigan needs sand and gravel to build roads, bridges and homes, the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA), a non-profit trade association founded in 1960 to protect and promote the interests of the Michigan aggregates industry, and its allies in the state legislature, will again introduce legislation in 2021 that will seek to prevent local units of government from denying permits for new aggregate mining sites.

Introduced to the Michigan state legislature in 2018, and again in 2020, if passed, aggregate industry supported legislation would have acted to amend Section 205 of the 2006 Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to read “a local unit of government shall not, by ordinance or otherwise, prevent, prohibit, or deny a permit, approval, or other authorization for the extraction, by mining, of natural resources from any property, possessory, or contractual rights…”. It is important to point out that supporters of the controversial legislation have failed to garner enough support for passage in each of their two previous attempts.

The intensity of the controversy surrounding the proposed legislation has been amplified by the fact that Michigan is known to host one of the most abundant concentrations of aggregate in North America. Referring to the immense volumes of stone, sand, and gravel that were transported to Michigan from as far away as Canada during the last ice age by the movement of the immense glaciers that were also responsible for creating Michigan’s vast natural heritage of inland lakes and streams, aggregate provides the foundation for the construction of roads, highway, railroads, bridges, dams, and both commercial and residential construction. The importance of aggregate is emphasized, for example, by the fact that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that aggregates comprised of crushed stone, sand, and gravel account for 94% of the material utilized to construct interstate highways.

In addition to concerns related to having sufficient quantities of aggregate to complete construction projects, the Michigan Aggregates Association argues that even though Michigan currently hosts 325 aggregate mines, their primarily rural locations force those engaged in highway and bridge revitalization in urban areas to haul aggregate in from distant counties, therefore resulting in significantly higher project costs. The aggregate industry indicates that the most important mining operations are those that are situated closest to densely-populated metropolitan areas where the materials are needed for road-building and other aggregate dependent construction projects.

As currently written, the 2006 Michigan Zoning Enabling Act allows local units of government to consider a host of critical factors, including the potential impact of the proposed aggregate mine on property values, road safety, local water resources, and on overall quality of life within surrounding communities. The Michigan Township Association indicates that the existing provisions of the law give local communities the right to deny new aggregate mines when necessary, in addition to giving local government officials the leverage to negotiate with the owners of existing aggregate mines to help prevent conflicts with their residential neighbors. For example, the current law permits local units of government to regulate hours of operation, and to attempt to limit the unfavorable impacts of existing aggregate mines by requiring noise abatement, dust control, and truck traffic regulation.

Environment groups in Michigan remain adamantly opposed to the passage of legislation that would deprive local units of government the right to deny land use permits for aggregate mining operations due to the fact that, because of their glacial origins, proposed aggregate mining sites are often situated in areas of the state hosting an abundance of extremely valuable freshwater resources such as inland lakes, streams, wetlands, and ground water that are known to be vulnerable to degradation by surface mining operations.

Please “stay tuned” to future Michigan Waterfront Alliance e- newsletters for more information as the next round of Michigan Aggregates Association supported legislation proceeds through the legislative process later this year…

The Laurentian Great Lakes Region’s Large and Highly Mobile Recreational Boating Community is Primarily Responsible for Lake-to-Lake Spread of Exotic Aquatic Invasive Species

Frequently operating on a readily accessible and easily navigated network of large lakes and rivers such as the Detroit/St. Clair River system that are widely recognized for their spectacular scenery and world class freshwater fisheries, and that over the course of the past 150 years have also become international “hotspots” for spectacular biological invasions, the Laurentian Great Lakes region’s highly mobile recreational boating community continues to play an instrumental role in contributing to the increasingly widespread “success” of often highly invasive exotic aquatic animals, plants, and algae that now thrive in many of our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands (Bossenbroek et al., 2001; Johnson et al., 2001; Leung et al., 2006). Capable of having a deep and pervasive influence on the aquatic ecosystems that they successfully invade, the exotic aquatic invasive species that have thus far entered the waters of the Great Lakes region include an increasingly diverse array of crustaceans that act as voracious scavengers, fish that are capable of disrupting aquatic food webs, freshwater-borne viruses such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia that  cause large scale fish die-offs, and filter-feeding mussels, submerged macrophytes, and macroalgae that are capable of acting as powerful ecosystem engineers (Strayer, 2010).

Serving as both an international beachhead and as a viable gathering place for a diverse array of exotic aquatic species that have been introduced in previous decades, the Laurentian Great Lakes are poised to remain an important source for future exotic aquatic plant and animal invasions that are likely to occur within thousands of unconnected inland waters in the region as well as throughout North America (Rothlisberger and Lodge, 2013). Analogous to the hub-and-spoke pattern of secondary invasions that have been orchestrated by transient recreational boaters in a “stepping-stone” fashion from well-known heavily invaded international beachhead areas such as San Francisco Bay, and the Port of Vancouver (Washington state) to hundreds of coastal marinas, protected marine parks as well as to thousands of inland lakes, streams, and wetlands distributed throughout the region that were once thought to be immune from the negative impacts of international shipping (Levings et al., 2004), the Laurentian Great Lakes region has also experienced large scale secondary invasions of exotic aquatic invasive species that are primarily attributed to recreational boating (Minchin et al., 2006). Once successfully introduced within the waters of a beachhead location such as the frequently navigated Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, or the Detroit/St. Clair River system, to cite just three primary examples, exponentially larger infestations of alien species may be facilitated by frequently occurring transport vectors such as recreational boaters (Minchin and Gollasch, 2002). Large scale secondary spread of often highly invasive exotic aquatic invasive species to smaller inland waters such as lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands that are widely distributed throughout the Great Lakes region has been enabled by the fact that, as reported by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (2019), approximately 95% of recreational boat owners tow their watercraft.

Although the secondary spread of exotic aquatic invasive species may also occur through natural means of dispersal, much of the on-going rapid spread of exotic aquatic species to thousands of inland lakes widely distributed throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes region may be directly attributed to in-water dispersal and overland movement of recreational small-craft boats (Bossenbroek et al., 2001; Leung et al., 2006). It is important to note that larger inland lakes that are popular with the region’s recreational boating and sport fishing communities are far more likely to experience a significant number of successful exotic aquatic invasive species introductions, and to consequently serve as source hubs for their secondary dispersal (Johnson et al., 2001). Representing a popular regional destination for the province’s enthusiastic sport fishing community, Ontario’s Lake Simcoe, for example, has long since served as a regional hub for the secondary dispersal of invasive Eurasian water milfoil, exotic zebra and quagga mussels, and spiny water flea (Kelly et al., 2013). Emphasizing the significance of the role of recreational boaters in facilitating the secondary dispersal of invasive exotic macrophytes, Brainard and Schultz (2012) discovered that inland lakes hosting public boating access sites possess an average of three times more invasive macrophyte associated biomass compared to lakes that are not accessible to the region’s transient recreational boaters.

Secondary dispersal of exotic aquatic animal, plant, and algae species to inland lakes via trailered recreational boats occurs primarily through the entanglement of viable fragments or individuals in fishing equipment, anchor ropes or chains, attachment to trailers, propellers, and/or to boat hulls, and through the transport of standing water containing fragments, propagules, or individuals in bait wells, minnow buckets, coolers, bilge water, and increasingly, in the ballast water storage bladders of wake boats (Johnson et al., 2001; Minchin et al., 2006; Rothlisberger et al., 2010; Stasko et al., 2012). Each time a recreational watercraft is transported overland to a different water body after navigating within invaded waters, the potential exists for introducing a new exotic aquatic invasive species to an unaffected waterway (Rothlisberger et al., 2010). Recreational boaters that frequently tow their water craft to two or more waterways hosting public boating access sites in relatively quick succession are particularly vulnerable to inadvertently contributing to the spread of exotic aquatic invasive species (Doll, 2018). Secondary dispersal by recreational boaters engaged in overland transport of their often ballast water laden watercraft has been primarily responsible for the increasingly widespread and abundant presence of highly invasive exotic aquatic plants and animals, including several species that have managed to achieve a high degree of success in the waters of the region such as the highly invasive Eurasian water milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) and now widely distributed zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena spp.) (Rothlisberger et al., 2010; Doll, 2018).

It is important to note that the extent to which transient recreational water craft owner/operators continue to inadvertently contribute to the spread of exotic aquatic invasive species may be directly attributed to the fact that many of them have not yet committed the time and effort necessary to avail themselves of the wealth of outstanding educational resources that have been developed and made readily available in order to help recreational boaters curtail the spread of exotic aquatic species that are currently available on the recently revised Michigan State University Extension Clean Boats, Clean Waters website. Dedicated to developing a Michigan-based Clean Boats, Clean Waters program that is devoted to “building a unified understanding of boat cleaning practices and regulations through the creation and distribution of materials, mobile boat washing demonstrations, events, and partnerships with environmental organizations”, the program’s outstanding website provides users with a wealth of detailed information supported by well-illustrated graphics that have been designed to enable and enhance the capacity of on-line users to learn how to effectively combat the spread of aquatic invasive species by properly implementing “Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose” procedures. The newly revised program website has also dedicated a large section to providing those who take the time to visit the resource rich site with a wealth of aquatic invasive species focused education outreach materials, including a host of downloadable documents whose content is devoted to teaching recreational boaters how to identify and manage aquatic invasive species. The highly organized and well-illustrated web site also includes important information on how to apply for Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters program sponsored 2021 grant opportunities, and information regarding the program’s unique Mobile Boat Wash demonstration unit that has appeared at numerous public boating access sites throughout Michigan over the course of the past few summers. It is important to note that Michigan State University Extension is leading the effort to refresh and implement the new Clean Boats, Clean Waters program in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The reinvented Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters program also builds upon existing collaborative partnerships with statewide and local partners including the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, and lake associations, and is actively seeking new opportunities and partnerships with which to share the Clean Boats, Clean Waters “clean, drain, dry” message. To visit the Michigan State University Extension Clean Boats, Clean Waters website, click here.  Those interested in learning more about on-going efforts to thwart the spread of invasive species should also visit the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) program website that is dedicated to developing and providing early detection and response resources for invasive species.

 

References

Bloch, J. (2011). Keeping it clean: Invasive species continue to threaten the St. Clair River. The Voice, April 13, 2011.

Bossenbroek, J. M., Kraft, C. E. & Nekola, J. C. (2001). Prediction of long-distance dispersal using gravity models: zebra mussel invasion of inland lakes. Ecological Applications 11 (6), 1, 1,778-1778.

Brainard, A. S. & Schulz, K. L. (2012). Propagule pressure and disturbance as drivers of invasive macrophyte abundance in public versus private lakes. 97th ESA Annual Convention.

Doll, A. (2018). Occurrence and Survival of Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) Veliger Larvae in Residual Water Transported by Recreational Watercraft. A Theses Submitted to the Faculty of the University of Minnesota in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Griffiths, R. W., Schloesser, D. W., Leach, J. H. & Kovalak, W. P. (1991). Distribution and dispersal of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes region. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48, 1381-1388.

Johnson, L. E., Ricciardi, A., & Carlton, J. T. (2001). Overland dispersal of aquatic invasive species: a risk assessment of transient recreational boating. Ecological Applications, 11, 1789–1799.

Johnson, L. E., Bossenbroek, J. M. & Kraft, C, E. (2006). Patterns and pathways in the post-establishment spread of non-indigenous aquatic species: the slowing invasion of North American inland lakes by the zebra mussel. Biological Invasions 8, 475- 489.

Karatayev, A. Y., Mastitsky, S. E., Burlakova, L. E.  & Olenin, S. (2008). Past, current, and future of the central European corridor for aquatic invasions in Belarus. Biological Invasions 10, 215–232.

Kelly, N. E., Wantola, K., Weisz, E. & Yan, N. D. (2013). Recreational boats as a vector of secondary spread for aquatic invasive species and native crustacean zooplankton. Biological Invasions, 15 (3), 509-519.

Kraft, C. E. & Johnson, L. E. (2000). Overland dispersal of zebra mussels: regional differences among North American lake districts. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57: 993–1001.

Leung, L. A., Bossenbroek, J. M., & Lodge, D. M. (2006). Boats, pathways, and aquatic biological invasions: estimating dispersal with gravity models. Biological Invasions 8 (2), 241-254.

Levings, C. D., Cordell, J. R., Ong, S., & Piercey, G. (2004). The origin and identity of invertebrate organisms being transported to Canada’s Pacific coast by ballast water. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 61, 1-11.

MacIsaac, H., Julianna V. M. Borbely, Muirhead, J., & Phil A. Graniero. (2004). Backcasting and Forecasting Biological Invasions of Inland Lakes. Ecological Applications, 14 (3), 773-783.

Minchin, D., Floerl, O, Savini, D. & Occhipinti-Ambrogi, A. (2006). Chapter 6: Small craft and the spread of exotic species. In Davenport, J. and Davenport, J. L. (Eds.) The Ecology of Transportation: Managing Mobility for the Environment. Springer, The Netherlands.

Minchin, D. & Gollasch, S. (2003). Fouling and ships’ hulls: how changing circumstances and spawning events may result in the spread of exotic species. Biofouling, 111-122.

National Marine Manufacturers Association (2020). U.S. Boat Sales Reached Second Highest Volume in 12 Years in 2019, Expected to Remain Strong in 2020. Accessed at https://www.nmma.org/press/article/23026.

Rothlisberger, J. D., Chadderton, W. L., McNulty, J. & Lodge, D. M. (2010). Aquatic invasive species transport via trailered boats: what is being moved, who is moving it, and what can be done? Fisheries 35 (23), 121-130.

Rothlisberger, J. & Lodge, D. (2013). The Laurentian Great Lakes as a beachhead and a gathering place for biological invasions. Aquatic Invasions. 8, 361-374.

Strayer, David. (2010). Alien species in fresh waters: Ecological effects, interactions with other stressors, and prospects for the future. Freshwater Biology, 55, 152 – 174.

Strayer, D. L. (1991). Projected distribution of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, in North America. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48, 1389 -1395

New State Laws Enabling the Capacity of Local Units of Government to Establish No-Wake Ordinances are Helpful but No Substitute for the Need of Michigan’s Legislature to Establish Wake Boat Operating Standards to Help Ensure the Practice of Safe, Sustainable Wake Enabled Water Sports

In light of the fact that high energy wakes created by passing watercraft, and in particular wake enhanced boats are capable of inflicting damage to shoreline property and natural habitat during periods marked by high water, the Michigan state legislature passed a series of recreational boater targeted laws last year, that, in at least some cases, may help to mitigate the situation by allowing local governments to establish temporary no-wake watercraft limitations during periods of high water. Signed into law in April of 2020 by Governor Whitmer, Public Act No. 70 of 2020 and Public Act No. 71 of 2020 permit the County Sheriff, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or the County Emergency Management Coordinator to establish temporary reduced watercraft speed limits in response to the request of a local municipality in order to protect life and property during emergency conditions. Under Public Act 70 and 71, temporary speed limits are restricted to a maximum duration of 14 days. Temporary speed limits authorized under the auspices of Public Act 70 and 71 can only be issued once per each calendar year; they may, however, be issued twice in a calendar year if the municipality is seeking to implement the watercraft speed limit restrictions under a temporary ordinance.

Also becoming state law in the spring of 2020, Public Act No. 72 permits municipalities in Michigan to request Department of Natural Resources authorization to implement temporary ordinances regulating the use of watercraft for a period of up to six months, and may be extended or renewed only if the particular municipality is seeking to implement the restrictions on a permanent basis as a special local rule under the auspices of MCL 324.80110. To download a Michigan Department of Natural Resources document that was written to describe the procedures that are required in order to establish a temporary local watercraft control under the auspices of Public Act 72, click here. To download a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division Temporary Local Watercraft Control Application, click here.

It is important to note that Holland Charter Township, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, invoked the new law early in the summer of 2020 in order to establish a temporary no wake ordinance on Lake Macatawa that is set to expire on January 9, 2021. The establishment of a temporary “no wakes within 300 feet of the shoreline” prohibition enacted in July of 2020 by municipalities with jurisdiction over the large western Michigan inland lake represents one of the first actions taken under the auspices of the new law.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance recognizes the importance of the ability of municipalities to establish temporary no-wake ordinances in response to high water levels, and to the increasing presence of watercraft that are capable of generating wakes whose energy greatly surpasses those created by high winds. However, we also understand that the enactment of Public Act(s) 70, 71, and 72 does not provide an effective substitute for the long-standing need of our state legislature to enact wake boat operator targeted legislation that would define minimum distance to shore, and other critical operating criteria that would help establish safe wakeboarding practices while at the same time serving to protect Michigan’s inland lakes.