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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.

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Pleased to Make Important Contributions to the Highly Successful 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention

by Bob Frye, MWA President

Michigan Waterfront Alliance is pleased to have been a major contributor to the unqualified success of the very well attended 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention. Featuring three days of inland lake focused keynote speakers, workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities, this year’s lakes convention convened on the morning of Wednesday, September 16th, and ran through the late afternoon of Friday, September18th. Recognized as Michigan’s premier opportunity to learn about, and/or share the latest innovations, ideas, and methods associated with lake science, management, and stewardship, the theme of the 2020 virtual lakes convention was “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”. We are also proud of the fact, that in addition to being a Platinum-level sponsor of the biennial event, members of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board of Directors made substantive contributions to the overall success of the convention.

Representing one of the best attended sessions of the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, the presentation entitled “Legal aspects of the public trust doctrine as it pertains to Michigan’s lakes and streams”, conducted by attorney William Carey of the Grayling-based law firm Carey and Jaskowski PLLC, and attorney Dane Carey of the Traverse City-based law firm Kuhn Rogers PLC, both long standing Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board members, provided attendees with an overview of their legal rights under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, and the Public Trust Doctrine. Moreover, attendees were also apprised of the legal remedies that can be used to compel appropriate government agency response to combat negative environmental impacts on Michigan waterways. To view the recorded session entitled Public Trust Doctrine, click here.

We are also pleased to recognize the contribution of Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board member Scott Brown, who organized a lakes convention workshop entitled “An update on critical aspects of the forty-year starry stonewort bio-invasion”. The opening session was dedicated to providing viewers with an overview of the natural history, biology, morphology, reproductive capacity, and eco-physiological prerequisites of starry stonewort; the second session of the workshop was dedicated to exploring research conducted by Wesley Glisson of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center focused on discovering and developing effective, eco-friendly herbicide application-based alternatives for controlling exotic invasive starry stonewort. The concluding session of the three-hour workshop was conducted by David Carr, manager of the Hobart and William Smith College Finger Lakes Institute’s Starry Stonewort Collaborative, who discussed the mission, goals, and status of an on-going United States Environmental Protection Agency grant enabled project that was launched in order to enhance the capacity of lake managers and scientists within the Great Lakes region to manage exotic invasive starry stonewort. To view the recorded starry stonewort focused presentations, click here.

On behalf of the Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board of Directors,, we would like to extend a Happy Thanksgiving to our members, and to all who work hard throughout the year to help preserve and protect Michigan’s vast wealth of high quality inland lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands!

Dedicating Oil and Gas Royalties to the Protection of Water Resources, Land, and State Parks in Perpetuity: 2020 Michigan Election Ballot Proposal 1 Passes with Overwhelming Support from Voters

Representing an important victory for land conservation and public recreation in Michigan, Michigan Waterfront Alliance is happy to report that on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 Michigan voters “elected” to support Proposal 1 in a manner that can only be described as overwhelming. Passage of Proposal 1 essentially acts to remove the Natural Resources Trust Fund cap of $800 million in principal and interest, and permits the state trust fund to (again) start receiving revenue derived from royalties associated with natural gas and oil extraction in Michigan. Demonstrating a clear commitment to the protection and improvement of Michigan’s public lands and outdoor spaces, voter approval of Proposal 1 will allow the State Parks Endowment Fund to (again) start receiving money whose expenditure will be entirely dedicated to improving, maintaining, and purchasing land for State parks; for Fund administration; require subsequent oil and gas revenue from state-owned lands to go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund; require at least 20% of Endowment Fund annual spending go toward State park improvement; and require at least 25% of Trust Fund annual spending go toward parks and public recreation areas; and at least 25% toward land conservation.

Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”: The 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention an Unqualified Success!!!

Attracting nearly 500 registered participants, including students, scientists, academicians, educators, lakefront property owners, lake preservation advocates, lake and aquatic plant management professionals, and state agency personnel all drawn to an exceptional agenda comprised of three full days of lake focused keynote addresses, special presentations, workshops, concurrent sessions, educational exhibits, photo and writing contests, and even an opportunity to win prizes during an inland lakes trivia competition, all supported this year by the generous contributions of an enthusiastic group of public and private sponsors, by all measures, the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention was an unqualified success!

Beginning with the inaugural event held in the spring of 2014, the biennial Michigan Inland Lakes Convention is the extraordinary by-product of the high level of cooperation that occurs between a broad range of inland lake and water resource preservation focused non-profit organizations, companies, and state agencies that comprise the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, an organization dedicated to promoting collaboration between citizens, professionals, researchers, and governmental agencies in order to advance stewardship of Michigan’s vast legacy of inland lakes.

Kicking off on Wednesday, September 16th at 9:00 AM, and adjourning at 4:30 PM on Friday, September 18th, this year’s lakes convention featured dozens of well attended special events, workshops, and concurrent sessions each committed to exploring a particular lake conservation related topic aligned with this year’s overarching convention theme of “Conserving Lakes in a Changing Environment”. To view the complete 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention program, click here. Convention organizers would like our readers to know that many of this year’s virtual lake convention workshops, concurrent sessions, and special events were recorded, and will be available in November by visiting the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention website.

This year’s lakes convention also featured two outstanding keynote addresses by prominent speakers. Opening Wednesday afternoon’s convention sessions, noted author of the renown “The Guide to Walden Pond”, University of Connecticut Professor of Geoscience Dr. Robert Thorsen presented “Michigan Inland Lakes: Their Different Origins and Why This Matters for Lake Managers”. Leading off Thursday morning’s convention proceedings, Dr. Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Professor of Landscape Limnology within Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, delivered the convention’s second keynote address entitled “Lessons from LAGOS: Creating and using big data to understand lakes at broad scales of space and time”.

Editors Note: Michigan Waterfront Alliance is very proud to have been a “platinum” level sponsor of the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention. We would also like to extend a hearty congratulations to all who contributed in some way to the great success of this year’s lake convention!

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Encourages Voters to Support State Proposal 20-1

MICHIGAN WATERFRONT ALLIANCE WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT YOUR –YES- VOTE ON STATE PROPOSAL 20-1 THAT WILL APPEAR ON THE NOVEMBER 3RD BALLOT WILL HELP ENSURE THE LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY OF MICHIGAN’S EXTRAORDINARY STATE PARKS

STATE PROPOSALS

Proposal 20-1

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow money from oil and gas mining on state-owned lands to continue to be collected in state funds for land protection and creation and maintenance of parks, nature areas, and public recreation facilities; and to describe how money in those state funds can be spent.

This proposed constitutional amendment would:

• Allow the State Parks Endowment Fund to continue receiving money from sales of oil and gas from state-owned lands to improve, maintain and purchase land for State parks, and for Fund administration, until its balance reaches $800,000,000.

• Require subsequent oil and gas revenue from state-owned lands to go into the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

• Require at least 20% of Endowment Fund annual spending go toward State park improvement.

• Require at least 25% of Trust Fund annual spending go toward parks and public recreation areas and at least 25% toward land conservation.

Should this proposal be adopted?

Michigan Waterfront Alliance Welcomes Mr. Ralph Bednarz to our Board of Directors

Michigan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) is pleased to announce that Mr. Ralph Bednarz has graciously accepted an invitation to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. A lifelong lake protection and preservation advocate, Mr. Bednarz brings a wealth of knowledge and experience acquired during a highly productive thirty-five-year career as a water resources and environmental protection manager within the Inland Lakes Management Unit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) (now referred to as the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Instrumental in planning, developing, implementing, and managing high profile MDEQ statewide lake water quality monitoring programs, including the Lake Water Quality Assessment, and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, it is also important to note that Mr. Bednarz played a critical role in helping to ensure the success of the Michigan component of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctioned National Lake Assessments while serving as an EPA Senior Environmental Program specialist following his retirement from the MDEQ in 2011. In addition to his newly acquired role as a Michigan Waterfront Alliance Board member, Mr. Bednarz currently serves on the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society (McNALMS) Board of Directors, and is a pro-active representative to the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, and the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. In recognition of his “significant contributions to the advancement of inland lake education, pro-active leadership in addressing key inland lake issues, and in promoting lake ecology, and management”, Mr. Bednarz also recently received the McNALMS Lifetime Achievement Award Welcome aboard Ralph!

Citizen Water Monitoring Program Extended with Five-Year Contract

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 30, 2020

Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135

Marcy Knoll Wilmes, Aquatic Biologist, KnollM@Michigan.gov, 517-342-4348

Residents across Michigan will benefit from a new $1.7 million contract for Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), a network of citizen volunteers who help EGLE by collecting and sharing water quality data with the goal of protecting lakes and streams.

MiCorps includes education, training and networking for citizen scientists working with EGLE program biologists as their guides in learning more about water, Michigan’s most precious resource. EGLE awarded the new contract to Michigan State University, which will administer the program and work with Michigan State University Extension, Huron River Watershed Council and the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association.

EGLE secured funding through the Renew Michigan Fund to continue this valuable program.

“MiCorps is a dynamic program that engages the public in monitoring our inland waters, staying vigilant for problems in their watershed and acting to solve local problems,” said Marcy Knoll Wilmes, EGLE’s MiCorps director. “I am so proud of the volunteers and the work they do across the state. EGLE values the data collected to help us assess Michigan waters. We have some exciting items that will be developed through this contract including a new database, phone app for data collection and mapping/GIS capabilities added to the web site.”

“We are thrilled to continue working with EGLE to support Michigan volunteers in their efforts to monitor lakes and streams,” said Dr. Jo Latimore of Michigan State University, who will provide leadership for the MiCorps team. “The excellent data collected by MiCorps participants supports local conservation work and contributes significantly to our overall understanding and protection of Michigan’s waters.”

For more information about MiCorps or to sign up to be a volunteer, go to MiCorps.net or contact Marcy Knoll Wilmes at 517‑342-4348 or KnollM@Michigan.gov.

Ballot Initiative Seeks to Change How Michigan State and Local Park Related Funds Can Be Spent

The Michigan Use of State and Local Park Funds Amendment will appear on the upcoming November 3, 2020 election ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. While Michigan Waterfront Alliance has not yet taken a position on the amendment, we are pleased to be able to provide relevant information in the interest of keeping our dedicated readers apprised of the latest information regarding important water and natural resource related issues.

Our readers should know:

That a “yes” vote on the amendment changes how revenue in the state park-related funds can be spent, including (a) making projects to renovate recreational facilities eligible for grants and (b) allowing the parks endowment fund to be spent on park operations and maintenance, and (c) removing the cap on the size of the natural resources trust fund.

That a “no” vote on the amendment opposes making changes to how revenue in the state’s park-related funds can be spent, thus (a) continuing to prohibit projects to renovate recreational facilities from receiving grants and (b) continuing to prohibit the parks endowment fund from being spent on park operations and maintenance, and (c) keeping the cap on the size of the natural resources trust fund.

Our members and readers of this newsletter should also know that based primarily on our need to understand how passage of this amendment may affect the propensity of Michigan Department of Natural Resources owned and operated public access boating sites to contribute to the spread of exotic aquatic invasive species, the Michigan Waterfront Alliance is at least temporarily deferring public support of this important constitutional amendment.

To review a comprehensive review of the Michigan Use of State and Local Park Funds Amendment, visit the amendment dedicated Ballotpedia page by clicking here

Managing High Water: Part Two Restoring Natural Lakeshores

Limnologist Ralph Bednarz moved to his new home on Rennie Lake in Grand Traverse County just a couple of years ago and already the water is taking over part of his shoreline. In fact, many home and cottage owners on lakes throughout Michigan are witnessing record high lake levels and responding with emergency measures like sand bags.

In this video, we learn from experts at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that permits are required to build structures at or below the ordinary high water mark of inland lakes anywhere in the state. So, property owners should take the time to talk things over with EGLE before piling rock or building seawalls on their waterfronts.

To read the remainder of this article, and to watch the video that originally appeared on the Nature Change – Conversations about Conservation and Climate website on July 20, 2020, click here