A Detroit Lakes Summit

A Detroit Lakes Summit

Why are several hundred people driving from around the state of Minnesota to Detroit Lakes this Saturday?  To climb Mount Detroit?  Nope.  They have much more serious things to do.

They gather in DL deeply concerned about the damage non-native plants and animals, aquatic invasive species, they are called, are inflicting on Minnesota lakes.  In the great tradition of citizen activism, they hope to accelerate state efforts to stop or slow down these foreign invaders and their destructive ways.

The conference theme is BOLD ACTION NOW.

Among their concerns are these:

  • While legislation addressing the aquatic invasive species (AIS) problem passed last year was a step in the right direction, more needs to be done. 
  • We need stiffer penalties for violations of existing laws designed to reduce transport of invaders from one lake to another.
  • Legislators and all Minnesotans must understand the AIS is not simply a recreation issue.  It is also an economic issue.  Our lakes draw billions of dollars into our state, dollars the fund education, etc., all across our state.
  • Increased funding is necessary to implement strategies to resist the invaders.  Most boaters are willing to pay more in boat license fees to help our lakes, but legislators failed to pass the bill last year.

Developing an effective program has been challenging for both the DNR and citizen groups.  The challenge is not simply to devise and implement a work plan to disrupt the invaders.  Any plan must take human behavior into account, as well.  Citizens have been working with DNR for over a year to create an approach that will stop or slow the invaders and also be as compatible with human nature as possible.

Rules and requirements need to be easily understood, as convenient as possible, and have legal consequences for violators.

Besides giving an overview, speakers will explain what life is like living on a zebra mussel infested lake, an angler’s perspective on aquatic invasive species, challenges to business, and legislative priorities.  Citizens will continue working with DNR helping them tweak the program to achieve the best results for AIS control and human behavior.

Check my blog Thursday next week to learn the outcomes of the Detroit Lakes AIS Legislative Summit.

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