A new research center aimed at developing ways to permanently control aquatic invasive species in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers has been proposed for the University of Minnesota.
“Newly arriving aquatic invasive species including the Asian carp and zebra mussel are destroying Minnesota’s environment and outdoor heritage,’’ Peter Sorensen said in a proposal he presented today to a state Senate committee at the Capitol.
“This is a war, not a battle,’’ he said. “You can expect a continued stream of these things.’’
Sorensen, a university biology researcher who has worked on efforts to control common carp, said new ideas and technological approaches are desperately needed to develop real solutions. Most of the efforts being undertaken so far will only slow the spread of the invasives, he said.
Under his proposal, the new center would be housed at the university’s College of Food and Natural Resources Sciences. He estimated the center, with a director, three researchers, three research associates and graduate students, would cost about $1.3 million a year, plus an addition $750,000 for start-up equipment.
Sorensen suggested the funds could come from lottery or Legacy amendment proceeds, and some could come from private industry.
Sorenson’s proposal says efforts to control invasive species are stalled by a lack of local resources and expertise. Department of Natural Resources managers “are restricted to imperfect technologies developed at other locations for other reasons,’’ he wrote in his proposal.
Under the proposal, the center would focus on five activities:
*Assess the risk to Minnesota using economic models.
*Develop a systematic monitoring program for each invasive species.
*Develop new deterrence techniques.
*Develop new permanent control techniques.
*Develop new management paradigms to “guide control measures in economically sensible and sustainable manners.’’
“Addressing these five objectives with a center of expertise would be an effective first step to solving Minnesota’s long-term problem with aquatic invasive species,’’ Sorensen wrote. “This is a critical issue that the state must address because if we do not help ourselves, no one else will.’’
Sorensen presented his proposal to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
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