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State fighting spread of aquatic invasive species

Fishing opener marks the beginning of the busy season on many of Minnesota's lakes. Soon, families will be enjoying the lakes we are so well known for. The problem is that many of those folks bring something else along for the ride when they load up their boats back onto their trailers.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) turn Minnesota's greatest asset into its greatest liability. Thousands of communities survive, and thrive, thanks to their gorgeous lakes. AIS are a threat not just the lakes themselves, but also the local economies that depend on them so heavily. This is the time to take action.

Over the past two years, the Legislature has made significant investments to fight the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species. AIS can be incredibly difficult to combat because they spread by traveling through waterways on their own and by attaching themselves to boats that move between waterways. The amount of waterways and boats in them makes this a very complex problem to solve.

That's why AIS needs to be attacked on all fronts.

Through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Natural Resources, and the state general fund, we are starting to invest in solutions that can make an impact right now, and into the future.

Pilot programs in Northwest Minnesota, Central Minnesota will help test new ways to prevent the spread of AIS. While $7.5 million this year, and $13 million next year, will go to support efforts by state and local governments statewide. We've also invested in the Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota so that top researchers in the field can develop new methods for finding and eradicating AIS.

In total, more than $20 million has been dedicated to fighting Aquatic Invasive Species in Minnesota's lakes and rivers. The truth is, even that may not be enough. But it's a great start. I hope we can continue this work next session. Until then, let's enjoy a summer fishing season where we all remember to check our boats when we leave the water.

Roger Erickson

State Representative, District 2A