Who pays for invasive species battle? How much?

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2012 - 6:12 PM

Boating fees will likely go up, but other sources will be needed to pay for battling invasive species.

hide

Adam Doll, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invasive species assistant, used a hot-water, high-pressure washer to demonstrate on a DNR boat a new decontamination effort the DNR will use at public accesses on high-traffic state lakes in an effort to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Requiring every boat in Minnesota to be inspected for invasive species before watercraft are launched into a lake or river would cost about $600 million yearly -- or about half the cost of a new Vikings stadium.

That's because the state would have to place inspectors at 3,800 public and private accesses during the open water season. If boaters alone were required to pay for that, the current $5-per-boat surcharge would have to be increased to $2,300.

Obviously that's not going to happen, but it underscores the scope of the problem.

"Clearly, having inspectors at every access is cost-prohibitive,'' said Steve Hirsch, director of the Department of Natural Resources division of water and ecological resources.

That is the most expensive of several options to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species in a report given to the Legislature recently by the DNR. The report, done by a consulting firm to estimate costs of various options, was ordered by the Legislature.

The annual costs range from around $8.6 million, which is what the DNR will spend in the coming year, to the $600 million for total boat inspections. And even those eye-popping numbers don't cover prevention efforts for Asian carp.

The Legislature ultimately will decide whether or how to boost efforts to stem the spread of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels -- and who will pay for it. Whatever route is taken, Minnesota's 800,000 boat owners likely will be asked to pay more for their licenses to help pay for the effort.

"Boaters are willing to step up, but it isn't going to be just boaters [paying for it],'' said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, through which any fee increase must pass. "We'll have to come up with some other sources, too."

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, chairman of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, another key committee, said he supports a boat fee increase.

The battle against invasive species simply requires more money, he said. The question is how much?

"First we have to figure out what we want the DNR to do, then we have to figure out funding,'' said Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis.

Fee increase overdue

The current $5 watercraft surcharge -- the main source of funding for invasive species management -- hasn't been raised since 1993. The surcharge is tacked onto a three-year boat registration fee, so the annual cost to boaters is $1.67. And with inflation, that $5 now is worth about $3.11.

A year ago, Gov. Mark Dayton proposed boosting those fees, and Wagenius has authored legislation to do that. Under her bill, the $5 surcharge would rise to $10 for canoes, kayaks and sailboats, $20 for boats less than 17 feet long and $25 for those over 17 feet.

"It's a starting point,'' Wagenius said.

But that may not be enough.

The state doubled invasive species spending to $8.6 million beginning July 1, including $2.7 million from its invasive species account, funded by the surcharge and a $2 non-resident fishing license surcharge. But it also includes $4.5 million in one-time funding from the lottery, and $1.3 million in general fund dollars from taxpayers -- a proportion that has declined in recent years because of the state's budget crisis.

"At current spending, the invasive species account will go into the red,'' said Luke Skinner, DNR invasive species program supervisor. "That's why we're looking for long-term funding sources.''

The DNR says to maintain the $8.6 million spending level, the boat surcharge would have to jump to $33 for boats 17 feet and under, and $43 for larger boats -- assuming continued contributions from the state's general fund.

Nonresident anglers could be part of a financial solution. Currently the $2 fee on nonresident fishing licenses raises about $400,000 yearly, and Dayton had proposed raising it to $5. Raising any boat or license fees in an election year could be dicey, but each year more state waters are becoming infested with zebra mussels.

Meanwhile, the DNR plans to meet with stakeholders -- including lakeshore owners, local governments, watershed districts, boaters, anglers and others -- later this month or in March to discuss options.

"I'm optimistic we can do some things to slow the spread [of invasives],'' Hirsch said. "I don't think we'll be able to totally stop the spread, but I think we can do better.''

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 6 Bottom 8th Inning
Miami 7
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston 3 Top 10th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh 4 Bottom 7th Inning
St. Louis 2
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
Detroit 2 Bottom 1st Inning
Cleveland 0
Seattle 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Oakland 2
San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona 0 Bottom 1st Inning
San Diego 0
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 18 2nd Qtr 10:00
Chicago 16
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close