NEWS

MI AIS Advisory Council Releases Final Recommendations

July 25, 2013 09:35

The Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council recently issued its final report to the Governor.  The Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council was created by the state legislature in 2011 in order to provide recommendations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding aquatic invasive species issues. 

The Council had been tasked with developing recommendations regarding an update of the aquatic invasive species state management plan, funding to implement the plan, prevention of the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, the state’s certification of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (ballast water permit) as well as Phragmites australis control.

The Council also identified top priorities for AIS management initiatives in Michigan, these include preventing the introduction of aquatic species via canals and waterways; preventing the introduction of AIS through ballast water discharges; and preventing the introduction of AIS through organisms in trade.

In its final report to Governor Snyder, the Council also recommended the following actions:

  • The establishment of a long-term, sustainable funding source for AIS management efforts in Michigan;
  • Continuing to enhance state agency communication and coordination efforts;
  • Enhancement of information and education effort;
  • Promoting public/private collaboration to leverage expertise and resources to address Michigan’s AIS priorities;
  • To download a copy of the recently revised Michigan AIS Management Plan,  click here


Bill Introduced to Revise Michigan AIS Management Laws

July 25, 2013 08:10

State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) has introduced legislation to revise laws governing the treatment and management of aquatic invasive species within Michigan waters.  Specifically, the language of the bill would revamp Part 33 of Public Act 451 that regulates the issuance of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permits required to treat aquatic invasive species and would allow local governments to collect fees at public boat launch facilities that could be used to fund aquatic invasive species management plans.

To read the Senate Bill 444, click here

 



An Open Letter to the MI Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan State Waterways Commission

June 20, 2013 21:37

Michigan  Lake  and  Stream  Associations, Inc. is a fifty two year old non-profit organization whose membership is comprised of hundreds of lake associations, corporations and individual members throughout the state who share a common goal and vested interest in preserving and protecting the ecological, recreational and economic value of our profound wealth of inland lakes and streams for future generations. 

For over sixty years, our members, the conscientious men and women of lake associations throughout the state, have voluntarily placed themselves at the forefront of a never ending battle with a destructive array of aquatic invasive plants and animals. Through self-imposed special property tax assessments whose funds are specifically allocated to implementing long term plans to manage the aquatic invasive species that have entered their lakes primarily through public boating access sites, lake associations and their respective townships have placed themselves at the epicenter of efforts to preserve and protect the recreational and economic value of thousands of Michigan’s inland lakes. The on-going efforts of our state’s lake associations have ensured the preservation of viable recreational boating and fishing opportunities for the public as well as the unique lakefront lifestyles and private businesses whose success is so dependent on healthy aquatic ecosystems and good water quality.

We are sad to note that after more than sixty years since the first introduction of aquatic invasive  species into the inland waters of the State of Michigan, our state government has yet to enact legislation that would create an effective and sustainable aquatic invasive species management funding mechanism that would serve to redistribute a sizable, yet equitable, portion of the financial burden and responsibility for the cost of aquatic invasive species management to Michigan’s  expansive public recreational boating and fishing communities as well as to every citizen who benefits from the presence of high quality inland waters.

Scientists, governmental regulators and aquatic resource managers throughout the state have acknowledged that  the  potential  threat  posed  by  the  propagation of highly aggressive and rapidly colonizing aquatic invasive plants such as Hydrilla and Brazilian water weed, will require heretofore un-achieved levels of public funding as well as intensive collaboration between state government and water resources stakeholders in order to effectively thwart and/or minimize extensive damage to our state’s highly beneficial aquatic ecosystems.         

Therefore, in light of these indisputable facts, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations hereby strongly suggests that the Michigan State Waterways Commission and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources place an immediate moratorium on the expansion, upgrade or new construction of public boat launch facilities until such time as the State of Michigan enacts legislation in order to provide for a viable and sustainable operational funding mechanism with which to support the management and control aquatic invasive species within the inland waters of the State of  Michigan.

For far too long, Michigan lake associations and/or lake communities throughout the state have been asked to singularly shoulder the burden of aquatic invasive species management and control while the recreational boating and fishing public as well as a diverse population of citizen stakeholders who continue to reap the benefits of navigable waters and good fishing have not been asked to contribute a fair and equitable amount with which to help support and sustain these collective efforts.  

 

 

              

 



MICHIGAN LAKES BELONG TO EVERYONE, BUT SO DOES THE STEWARDSHIP

June 19, 2013 15:18

 

Our Opposition to the DNR’s
Proposed Boat Launch Site

PART 2

 By Paul J. Sniadecki

Eagle Lake Improvement Association, INC

In Part 1 of this series, we provided some history about the Eagle Lake situation, our initial dealing with the DNR in its initial attempt to acquire a Boating Access Site on the lake, as well a brief summary of what has happened to date, and what steps lay ahead. This article will cover more of about the DNR’s actions in the process.  By sharing this information we hope to prepare other lakes for their future dealings with the DNR, as well as to expose some of the problems we found in the DNR Policy and Procedures relative to land acquisition for Boating Access Sites (BAS) on inland lakes.

We first met with DNR officials in September 2012 when a friendly County Commissioner advised that the DNR would be making a site visit for an in-depth review of the targeted property.  Since the DNR had not invited us (the Lake Association) we invited ourselves to the site visit and arrived at THE DOCK Property well ahead of the 10am time the DNR officials would arrive. There were four (4) DNR officials who showed up and they represented various departments within the DNR from different locations around the state.  They were all pleasant and courteous toward us even though they did not expect us to be there to “greet” them.  They listened to our concerns and reviewed some of the site issues we pointed out. They provided some general ideas about what “might” be developed if the DNR purchased the property, but provided no specifics.  They then commenced (in our opinion) a soft-sell about working together to collaboratively fund and develop the project to “meet the needs of the community.”  One DNR official asked us several times to “imagine” what could be done with the property if we worked together.  We were not in the mode to “imagine” any kind of partnership at that time, but we did ask them what they would do to solve some of the issues we have with lack of restroom facilities, traffic congestion, trash, and the conduct of people who use the general area as a swimming/bathing location along the public road which parallels the lake and extends to the water’s edge.  Their response was: “we can look into that” as part of the development. 

We then learned they would meet with us and the Township Supervisor and Zoning Administrator at 1pm for an informal meeting about the land acquisition process.  At that meeting we shared with the DNR our list of Pro/Cons that the Lake Association members developed our 2012 Annual Meeting.  The DNR took our list and commented “we can look into that.”  They then explained what they called the “Act 210 Process” that might be followed for land acquisition. The DNR also told us they would “keep the Lake Association informed” as they went through each step.

Subsequently the Eagle Lake Improvement Association and the Ontwa Township All Lakes Coalition called a general meeting on Sunday October 7, 2012 to share what we learned from the September interface with the DNR.  We also needed to develop a consensus as to what the property owners felt should be our approach to the proposed DNR land acquisition. To its credit, one of the high ranking officials from the PRD Department made the trip to attend the meeting.  The meeting hall was filled to capacity with concerned riparians.  After we presented our list of pro/cons, we opened the meeting up to questions.  The DNR official responded to each question but provided very little in the way of specifics.  The reply of “we can look into that” was the response to most of the questions.  At the end of the meeting we asked for a show of hands as to who favored a Boating Access Site, and the overwhelming majority voted against.  I counted two in favor, but it appeared they were people who honestly believed the DNR would solve some of the issues mentioned above. 

During late fall of 2012 and early months of 2013, periodic emails were sent to the DNR officials inquiring about the status. After all, the DNR did state they would keep us informed at each step in their decision and action process.  One email was responded to by the DNR which indicated they believed a funding source for the acquisition had been found.  That email did not come to the Lake Association, but rather to one of the County Commissioners who shared it with us.

Subsequently, on Good Friday, March 29, 2013, I received a call from a Lake Resident (who has  connections to the Bank that repossessed the property) indicating his sources advise an Option To Buy with the DNR would be entered into on April 4, 2013.  The DNR never gave the Lake Association Notice that it had reached that Step in the acquisition process.  It wasn’t until April 29 that the DNR officially sent us an email with their “timeline” for the acquisition.  That timeline was the first confirmation that an Option-To-Buy had been entered into.  We were also surprised to learn that the DNR had made a presentation to the Water Ways Commission (WWC) at the Commission’s April 26, 2013 Meeting wherein they advised the WWC that acquisition of the Eagle Lake property had begun.  They also advised the WWC that THE DOCK property was a great acquisition for the State.  About this time we also learned about the DNR’s pre-application meeting with the DEQ on March 19, 2013, wherein detailed drawings about the proposed Boating Access Site were disclosed.  Reviewing those documents revealed that the detailed drawing was prepared in January 2012, but never shared with us.  We had to obtain that drawing from a “friendly source” who was not under a confidentiality agreement.

So, we have shown the DNR’s statement as to “…keep the Lake Association informed…” as well as their repeated response of “we can look into that” did not align with most of their actions. The next part in this series will chronicle even more disconnects in DNR actions, our use of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to determine their inner-workings/policy, how the DNR conducts Public Input Sessions, and our actions to oppose this acquisition because we believe the DNR failed to properly perform Due Diligence to ensure proper stewardship for inland lakes.   

EDITOR’s NOTE:  This newsletter recently published a yearlong series of Election Period articles by Paul concerning how riparians need to influence the local election process.  That series was very well received by readers.  In this current series, Paul will continue to report on a very real concern for inland lakes.

 



MSU Extension Publishes “A Michigan Boater’s Guide to Select Invasive Aquatic Plants”

June 19, 2013 10:21

MSU Extension Publication Provides Useful Guidance on AIS

Michigan State University Extension has recently published a handy and useful guide that offers assistance to recreational boaters in identifying aquatic invasive plants. In addition, the guide provides important information on how to contribute findings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN). MISIN is a multi‐state on‐line inter‐active resource designed to maintain current vital information regarding the potentially harmful terrestrial and aquatic invasive species that have been observed within the region.

With information regarding eleven aquatic invasive plants that currently pose a threat to or that may threaten Michigan’s aquatic ecosystems if they should become established in Michigan waters, the twenty eight page guide includes full color photographs and has been printed on water repellent paper.

MSU Extension publication E3189, A Michigan Boater’s Guide to Selected Invasive Aquatic Plants, is available through the MSU Extension Bookstore.

The cost of the guide is $10 per copy with reduced prices for bulk orders.

To place an order for the guide, visit the MSU Extension bookstore by  clicking here



An Update on the Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council

June 19, 2013 09:42

 

Council Ponders Sustainable AIS Program Funding Mechanisms

The Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council was created by the state legislature in 2011 in order to provide recommendations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding aquatic invasive species issues. The council consists of nineteen members who represent the interests of regulated entities, citizen organizations, governmental agencies, academia, and citizen stakeholders.

The Council has been tasked with developing recommendations regarding an update of the aquatic invasive species state management plan, funding to implement the plan, prevention of the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, the state’s certification of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (ballast water permit) as well as Phragmites australis control.

The most significant and challenging of the assigned objectives for the Council is to recommend potential funding sources that would allow the State of Michigan to adequately fund and administer a viable and sustainable aquatic invasive species (AIS) program. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality administered program would serve to provide management and control, inspections and enforcement, state and regional program coordination efforts as well as education and public awareness campaigns aimed at thwarting the spread of aquatic invasive species within Michigan’s waters.

Although the Council has yet to publicly reveal its AIS program funding recommendations, it is believed that they may emulate those established in neighboring Great Lakes states. In Wisconsin, for example, a small portion of the gas tax apportioned to boat usage is used to fund an approximately four million dollar per year aquatic invasive species program. In Minnesota, a $5 per boat additional registration fee, a portion of the fee from non‐resident fishing licenses and $725,000 from the state’s general fund, provide approximately two million dollars per year to fund aquatic invasive species programs. In Indiana, a Lake and River Enhancement fund is supported by a fee levy on boat registrations that ranges from $5 to $25 per boat.

The final aquatic invasive species program funding recommendations of the Council would have to be agreed upon and passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor as part of a legislative initiative before becoming law.

Michigan Lake and Stream Associations wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Council and strongly suggests that our state legislature passes into law a robust and sustainable aquatic invasive species program funding mechanism.

To learn more about the important work of the Michigan Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Council, please visit their dedicated web site by clicking here



MICHIGAN LAKES BELONG TO EVERYONE, BUT SO DOES THE STEWARDSHIP

May 14, 2013 16:57

 

Our Opposition to the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources Proposed Boat Launch Site

PART 1

 By Paul J. Sniadecki

Eagle Lake Improvement Association, Inc.

In the Spring of 2012, The Eagle Lake Improvement Association, INC (ELIA) heard ‘rumors” of the DNR’s keen interest in acquiring a 7.01 +/- acre parcel on the East Side of Eagle Lake, Ontwa Township, Cass County, Michigan, which is just north of the Indiana Border and Elkhart/South Bend, Indiana.  Their reported intent was to construct a boat launch facility.  That action by the Michigan DNR is what motivates us to share our story. This is the first in a series of articles that will chronicle how the DNR has conducted itself in the process, how our Lake Association attempted to reason with the DNR, provide periodic updates on the acquisition process, and highlight many glaring disconnects that point to serious shortcomings in the DNR approach to such acquisitions and development.

In Part 1, we will cover some history about the Eagle Lake situation, as well a summary of what has happened to date, and what steps we await currently.

Eagle, one of eight (8) such “Eagles” in Michigan, is 379 acre lake that was expanded to over 400 acres due to numerous “key-holing” channels that were created from 1930 through as recently as 1991.  The lake is densely developed, with an extensive hardened perimeter of sea walls, and an average lot width at the shoreline of about 50 feet. Over 315 homes and cottages surround the lake. The lake has several Public Road End Access points, and one Road Commission launch without any parking spaces.  There was a long-standing tavern/restaurant on the eastside known as THE DOCK, which ceased operations a few years ago.  The property was then acquired by a developer who set-out to construct a Site Condominium Development with 48+ condo units, complete with “marina” type docks providing mooring for 50+ water craft.  Based on legal actions pursued by ELIA, and about three years of hearings and tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses incurred by ELIA, the Circuit Court rejected the developer’s plans, and he went bankrupt.  The bank, which had issued an approximate 2 million dollar loan on the property, foreclosed in 2010-2011, and is now trying to recover some of its original cash outlay.  A few initial inquiries by private investors did not progress and it appears the bank then approached the DNR about acquiring the property.  So, Eagle Lake, THE DOCK property, and the DNR became connected by chance, not by choice.

We discussed the rumored DNR interest at the ELIA Annual Meeting in May 2012. During the meeting the membership compiled a list of pros and cons about such a DNR purchase.  There were about five positive points, while the Flip chart column of “negatives” filled two (2) pages.   High on the list of negatives was Eagle’s long history of infestation with exotic species.  The lake was the first in Michigan to encounter Zebra Mussels, and was one of the first to received Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM). The lake is also one of the first to have genetically documented “Hybrid” EWM and also has an expanding Curly Leaf Pond Weed area.  “Carrying Capacity” was another listed drawback because whether the calculations used was 20 acres or 7 acres, per water craft on the water, the lake was significantly overcrowded on weekends, with near-miss accidents a common occurrence. We also listed the fact that Eagle already HAD several public access points. We further outlined the many Zoning and Master Plan incompatibilities. Because our Lake Association’s mission is to provide “stewardship” for the health of the lake and surrounding community, we met with the DNR field people in the Fall of 2012. We shared our extensive “list of concerns” and attempted to obtain feedback how these concerns would be evaluated by the DNR.  We never received a detailed response.  All the DNR would say was they “…would keep us advised.”  Subsequently the ELIA “list of concerns” did not deter the DNR process, for on April 4, 2013, the DNR entered into an “option” to purchase the THE DOCK property pursuant to Michigan Act 210 and Act 451, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. 

This just begins our story.  There is more to share that should interest any Michigan resident, especially Riparians. Future articles will provide detailed reporting on how the DNR handled this “option” and the outcomes of the many hearing we will be participating in. 

 

EDITOR’s NOTE:  This newsletter recently published a yearlong series of 2012 General Election focused articles by Paul concerning how Riparians need to influence the local election process.  That series was well received by readers.  In this next series, Paul will cover a very real concern for inland lakes.



Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Seeks Your Help In Identifying and Reporting Aquatic Invasive Plants

April 23, 2013 19:40

Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are collaborating on the development of a statewide Aquatic Invasive Species “Early Detection Rapid Response” program and are seeking your assistance in helping to identify aquatic invasive species infestations in their early (and much easier to manage) stages.

Please view and or download the “Michigan’s Most Wanted Aquatic Invasive Plants” poster by clicking here

Should you observe any of these aquatic invasive plants, immediately contact Michigan Department of Natural Resources Early Detection Rapid Response Program Coordinator Matt Ankney at 517.641.4903 or via e-mail: ankneym2@michigan.gov.



Buying waterfront property can be tricky, says Grand Rapids lawyer who wrote a book on it

April 6, 2013 19:42

Our chief legal counsel and senior partner in the Grand Rapids firm of Bloom Sluggett Morgan Law, Cliff Bloom, recently sat down for an interview with M-Lives Jim Harger to discuss buying and selling waterfront property in Michigan.

Cliff Bloom is the author of an authoritative book regarding the unique challenges presented to folks interested in either buying or selling waterfront property in Michigan. The book is available for sale from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and can be purchased by calling our Central Office at 989-831-5100.

 To read the M-Live interview with Cliff Bloom, click here .



Listen to Buying and Selling Waterfront Property Interview with Cliff Bloom on WOOD Radio

March 19, 2013 23:01

Bloom Sluggett Morgan Law Attorney Cliff Bloom was interviewed on

Friday, March 15th by Lauren ‘Shmitty’ Smith of Newsradio WOOD

1300 and 106.9 FM in Grand Rapids regarding Buying and Selling

Waterfront Property in Michigan. 

Listen to the entire interview by clicking here…

 

 



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