OPINION: Bill introduced to create aquatic invasive species research center
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:31 AM
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) including the Asian carp and zebra mussel that are invading Minnesota's rivers and lakes will be the target of study at an AIS cooperative research center at the University of Minnesota proposed by Senator Jeremy Miller of Winona.
"The damage being done by certain invasive species is a long-term and complex problem that can be addressed in research generated by leaders at the University of Minnesota.
"This center will be a valuable asset in finding long-term solutions to control and eliminate damaging species in our state," Miller said. He is a co-author of the bill, passed by the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee last week.
The center's objective would be to develop and implement new technologies to permanently control and eliminate aquatic invasive species in Minnesota.
It will partner with the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Biological Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Extension, municipal governments (watershed districts and lake associations), federal agencies and local industries to address all disciplines needed to prevent and control aquatic invasive species and position Minnesota as one of the best prepared states for AIS control.
These prevention methods and objectives include:
Develop new screening tools to accurately and rapidly determine the presence of invasive species including Asian and common carps, zebra mussels and the mud snail
Develop ways to control zebra mussels in local waters
Develop a practical means to deter the movement of Asian carps, even in large rivers
Develop a practical means of eradicating at least one important aquatic invasive species
Serve as a state-of-the art source of information on the biology of invasive species and new means for their control for both citizens of the state and the DNR
Funding of $1.8 million from the clean water fund has previously been approved by the Clean Water Council and an additional $1 million re-appropriated from Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. No general fund money will be used.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) has a $1 million bonding request to improve their center.
"I'm glad to see that the Legislature has made this issue a priority," Miller said. "Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams are an invaluable resource to our state."