6.10 Section 2 - AIS Management Approaches and Activities

SECTION 2 --  AIS Management Approaches and Activities

This section provides the organization of the District's plan to manage AIS for the next several years.  It is designed to address AIS generally, rather than by specific species, as they are present or may be found to be introduced.  While the plan identifies goals and strategies for the District to follow, ultimately success in preventing and containing the spread of AIS relies on every resident and water-related business to take personal responsibility.  

ELEMENT 1  --  PREVENTION

The over-arching goal of the AIS Management Plan is to prevent the introduction of AIS to waters where they are currently not present; this includes preventing the introduction of new AIS into District waters and preventing the District from being the source of introductions of AIS to non-infested waters outside the District.

It is much less costly to prevent introduction of AIS than to pay for public and private costs to control or eradicate an invasive species after it has become established (assuming that those actions are possible).  If preventing the introduction of an AIS is not successful, then immediate efforts to locate, contain, or eradicate them must be undertaken in order to avoid the expensive, long-term efforts to manage a species once it has become well-established and threatens to spread.  As an invasive species becomes more established in a waterbody, the extent and cost to treat it increases, and the chances for successful control decrease.

Prevention activities will need to be multi-faceted, with emphasis on consistent outreach and education through a wide range of media to communicate to different generations and cultures;   on controls for pathways of introduction; and on collaboration and coordination of management activities with other organizations.

Strategy 1:  Provide public information about the risks and impacts of AIS, and engage residents, businesses, civic and voluntary organizations, and agencies to encourage behaviors that will prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.

The goal of this strategy is to help the larger public become well-informed about AIS, why they should be aware and concerned, and what they can do in a variety of settings to prevent the spread of AIS.  While providing information is important, it alone does not result in people taking action on knowledge imparted.  The strategy is successful when it results in people changing their behavior to do the right things, and having it become second-nature to do so.  Accordingly, using concepts in social marketing will be important to result in behaviors that achieve prevention.  

Actions

1.1.a    Continue development of the District's Outreach and Communications program regarding AIS

The District has taken initiative to produce information on the presence and threats of introduction of various AIS.  They have been made available in a variety of communications media.  The District is also present at community events throughout the watershed where displays, literature, and staff are available to provide information.  These efforts will continue and evolve to meet needs and priorities as they develop.

1.1.b    Use national, state, and regional campaigns

The District uses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Stop Aquatic Hitchhickers! and Habitatitude campaigns to provide consistent information and messages that are nationally-recognized and easily understood by residents and visitors to the watershed.  The District will periodically assess the appropriateness and value of continuing to use these campaigns.  As state or regional campaigns are launched (by e.g., Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Sea Grant), the District will use them as appropriate with its purposes and to provide consistency of messages and information to the public.

1.1.c    Local campaigns and programs

The District has developed the Save Our Summers (SOS) campaign with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.  The District will consider development of such campaigns, and will seek partnership opportunities with other organizations within the watershed.  Individual programs will be evaluated periodically to determine if they should continue.

1.1.d    Identify different audiences, and target information and presentations

There are many different audiences using water resources, including riparian residents, water-related businesses, anglers, boaters, bait shops, aqua- and landscapers, lake associations, municipalities, schools.  Outreach should be made, and communications tailored, to these diverse groups.  While there are many distinct audiences, a phased plan will be developed that gives priority to those associated with primary pathways of introduction.

1.1.e    Use social marketing principles in communications

Generally, people want to do the right things, but need knowledge and assistance to do so.  Social marketing principles are designed to do so, and with positive messages and reinforcement, to help people achieve their preferred behavior.  These principles will, to the extent appropriate and practical, be incorporated in the District's outreach and communications.

1.1.f     Media releases

Issuing media releases in a strategic manner is effective in providing timely information and reminders of to take preventive actions.  As an example, media releases should be timed close to the start and close to the end of the boating season to give proper procedures for the installation or removal of boats, docks, and lifts.  Media releases can be issued jointly with other organizations to underscore their importance.

1.1.g    MCWD Website

The District's website is an important communications medium to provide information about AIS and its activities in this field.  They will continue to have an easy-to-find and easy-to-access place on the website, and the information within it will be updated regularly.  

 1.1.h   Develop and maintain contacts with other organizations

The District and its staff will develop and maintain local, national, and international contacts in order to share and be up-to-date on effective outreach, communications, and education methods.

Strategy 2:  Identify and address pathways of introduction

The goal of this strategy is straightforward:  to identify pathways for the introduction of AIS, in order to develop a range of activities that will prevent the introduction of new AIS to the watershed or to individual waterbodies.  As resources are not unlimited, prevention can be accomplished by identifying and addressing key pathways.  This risk management orientation will target approaches that are most likely to prevent introduction in a cost-effective manner. 

Vectors of primary concern are owners of riparian lands; transient users of water resources; those whose activities that affect water resources (e.g., commercial and construction activities); and natural and manmade conveyances of waters.  Pathways for the spread of AIS are numerous, and may be present in more than one vector.  Among the key pathways of concern are watercraft and trailers; docks, lifts, and other such equipment; boat accesses; bait harvesters and users; the aquarium trade; land- and aqua-scaping activities; construction and resource management equipment; stormwater drainage systems; interconnected waters; and nature and wildlife.

The watershed and the region have a plenitude of waters that are usually interconnected, a dense roadway system, and readily available public and private accesses to waters.  These realities alone present significant challenges to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.  Other transportation issues exacerbate the spread of AIS, particularly plants, as they are readily available to residents who often unwittingly purchase them by mail-order or through the Internet for their aquariums and landscaping, and who may later release them to waterbodies.

The vast majority of AIS introductions are the result of human activity.  The transport and launch of boats and water-related equipment with AIS present are primary pathways of introduction.  Intercepting AIS on boats and water-related equipment before they are placed in the water is one of the most effective approaches to prevent introduction, and inspecting watercraft is one of the best management practices (BMPs) available.

Requiring watercraft inspections represents a cultural change for Minnesotans, who are used to putting their boats in water wherever and whenever they like.  While having watercraft inspected may be inconvenient, it is also an opportunity to raise the awareness of boaters about AIS, gain greater compliance with laws and regulations related to AIS, and develop behaviors of personal responsibility to prevent the spread of AIS.  Watercraft inspectors contracted by the MCWD recorded greater compliance with AIS laws as the 2012 boating season progressed at the public access to Christmas Lake. 

There are many public and private accesses to waters within the District.  However, the District does not own or administer any access within the watershed, nor has it established rules or regulatory authority on them.  While there are broadly-stated provisions in state statutes for watershed districts to be involved in protecting water quality in waterbodies, they have also provided more specific authority to the Department of Natural Resources over surface water uses, including the regulation of transport and introduction of invasive species to waterbodies.  Consequently, the District will work with public and private partners who control accesses to perform activities that are consistent with its AIS management plan.

Actions that will be taken to address pathways of introduction will need to be flexible and adaptable.  Implementation measures will need to take into account the circumstances presented in order to be effective, and will likely evolve based on experience or changes in legal authority.  

Actions

1.2.a    Develop an array of measures for inspection and controlling launching of watercraft             at public water accesses

As indicated above, the District is limited in its direct authority to control the launching of watercraft on waters within the watershed.  The transport and launch of watercraft are likely the primary activities presently responsible for the spread of AIS.  While few watercraft and trailers may have AIS present, it only takes a few individual plants or animals to infect a waterbody.  This low-incidence / high-risk situation calls for a wide range of measures designed to assure that watercraft are clean of AIS before allowing them to launch at or leave public accesses.

1.      Watercraft inspection collaborations and partnerships:  The District will develop relationships with other units of government to conduct inspections that are consistent with the purposes of the AIS management plan.  Agreements will be made for the District to arrange for watercraft inspections to be performed or to provide financial assistance for other governmental units to perform them, consistent with statutory authority and requirements.  The District will not seek to supplant other units ogovernment in the provision of watercraft inspections, but rather will seek to expand and/or complement their efforts.

2.      Watercraft inspection locations:  Watercraft inspections will be conducted at public accesses and/or at regional inspection facilities.  In the latter case, the District will participate in the development of protocols or techniques (e.g., physical controls) for public accesses to accept proof-of-inspection made at off-site locations. 

3.      Self-inspection certification programs:  Preventing the introduction of AIS is ultimately a matter of personal responsibility, as any intervention by others is not foolproof.  The District will develop a training program for watercraft operators to inspect their own boats and trailers for the presence of AIS.  Persons who successfully complete this training will receive certification that they are able to inspect their own watercraft.  The District will work with the DNR and others controlling public accesses to recognize self-certification of these watercraft operators and facilitate their progress through the inspection/access control process.

4.      Improvements at public accesses to facilitate self-cleaning and ?inspection of watercraft:  The District will assist with the design and implementation of improvements at public accesses that will inform and facilitate self-cleaning and -inspection of watercraft both entering and exiting the waterbody.  

5.      Boat cleaning facilities:  State statutes require that watercraft contaminated with AIS must be decontaminated before they are launched.  According to some marine operators, it is very difficult to fully ?decontaminate? watercraft, particularly boats that are large and/or sophisticated in design.  It is possible that such watercraft merely get a good washing and cleaning.  While the DNR currently has a limited number of mobile ?decontamination? units, more cleaning facilities are necessary.  The District will work with the DNR, other public agencies, and private businesses (such as marinas) to establish cleaning stations for watercraft and protocols for proof-of-cleaning made at off-site locations.  The District will also encourage measures to limit the liability of those who are cleaning boats for their possible inadvertent introduction of AIS. 

6.      Fire lanes and other rights-of-way:  There are many street and fire lane rights-of-way that extend to shorelines of waterbodies within the District.  Around Lake Minnetonka, for instance, many municipalities allow watercraft to be launched and/or stored at the ends of fire lanes.  These rights-of-way are too numerous and scattered to be part of a staffed watercraft inspection program.  The District will work with municipalities and encourage them to require residents storing their boats at these locations to have self-inspection certification as a condition for a local permit.     

7.      Watercraft operator licensure:  The District will actively encourage the enactment of legislation that will require boat operators have licenses to operate watercraft in Minnesota.  Licensing watercraft operators will ensure a wide range of training and

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Minnehaha Creek Watershed District                             97-v                                                        Effective July 25, 2013

Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan

proficiency in the use of watercraft for the safety of the human and natural environments.  Behaviors to prevent the spread of AIS should be included in the training and testing materials required for licensure.  

8.      Home-lake; Red-lake/Blue-lake concepts:  These concepts are designed for watercraft to be used on a single (?home?) body of water, or to distinguish whether they have been last used on infested (?red?) or non-infested (?blue?) waters, for the purpose of making the watercraft inspection process more convenient and efficient.  These systems should be evaluated for their effectiveness within the District and enabled by the DNR.                          

1.2.b    Address launching of water-related equipment from private accesses

Boats, trailers, docks, lifts, and other water-related equipment may access waterbodies through private property.  Generally, prevention of introduction of AIS will be the      responsibility of the owners or users of private property.  The District will work with units of government having authority on land uses adjoining waterbodies and will conduct public outreach, communication, and education to owners of riparian property.

1.      Coordinate efforts with the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD):

The LMCD regulates private marinas and individual as well as large dock (e.g., homeowners? association) systems on Lake Minnetonka.  The District will work with the LMCD on its regulations designed to prevent the introduction of AIS.

2.      Inspections at commercial facilities:  All lake service providers must receive AIS training from the DNR, and pass an examination before receiving a required lake service provider permit from the agency.  This system promotes responsible actions by lake service providers to ensure that they are preventing the introduction of AIS by their equipment that of their customers.  Marina operators are in a key position to prevent the introduction of AIS by watercraft and equipment.  The District will encourage marinas to have state-certified inspectors on-premises and to offer or direct their customers to cleaning stations.

3.      Riparian property owners:  In order to minimize opportunities for the introduction of AIS through the use of private property, the District will communicate to owners of private property:

  • the importance of using State-certified lake-service providers
  • the availability and benefits of self-inspection certification for their own and their guests? watercraft
  • best management practices on activities on their properties to prevent the introduction of AIS, including those related to docks, lifts, and other water-related equipment

4.      Floatplane operations:  While they are quite limited in the District, aircraft that use the surface of lakes for takeoffs and landings present an opportunity to transport AIS on or in their floats.  The District will address this pathway through public communications and, to the extent feasible, contact with known pilots of such aircraft using waterbodies in the District.

1.2.c    Address other activities that risk the introduction of AIS

There are a number of other activities that pose threats for the introduction of AIS.  The list that follows is not all-inclusive, but identifies ones for the District to undertake some level of effort.

  • Aquarium trade, aqua- and landscaping:  Of concern is the potential release of invasive aquatic plants and animals associated with these activities.  Of special concern are (1) residents who may dump the contents of their aquaria or water features into waterbodies, and (2) the unregulated availability of invasive plants through mail- and internet-order.
  • Bait trade:  Commercial harvesters and retailers are regulated by the DNR, as is the use of live bait.  The District will supplement DNR communication to this audience, as well as the matter of bait harvesters and retailers that are not licensed or permitted.    
  • Watercraft / equipment design:  The District will take advantage of opportunities to work with manufacturers of watercraft and associated equipment regarding designs to minimize the transport of AIS.
  • Commercial and construction equipment:  The District will communicate with operators of commercial and construction equipment about best practices to minimize the introduction of AIS.
  • Commercial and recreational diving:  The District will provide communications to the commercial and recreational divers about best practices in the use of their equipment to minimize the introduction of AIS.
  • Public agency equipment:  The District will communicate with local governments about the need to clean and dry equipment ? particularly watercraft and hoses used by public works and public safety – that has been in AIS-infested waters, or to have separate equipment for infested and non-infested waters.   

1.2.d    Address interconnections of waterbodies

Waterborne movement of AIS is an important pathway for AIS to spread, particularly in high water conditions.  Waterbody connections can be natural or manmade (e.g., ditches, stormwater pipes and ponds).  Interconnections will be identified in order to develop appropriate measures to reduce the spread of AIS through them.  Ecological impacts will be identified when considering appropriate measures.              

Strategy 3:      Regulation and Legislation for AIS Prevention

Improvement and enhancement of present legal systems ? statutes and regulations – are critical to effective prevention of the introduction and spread of AIS.  The District's AIS efforts to date have been rooted in a strong understanding of the scope and effect of current AIS law, and the development of its prevention strategies will necessarily involve exploring – in partnership with the DNR whenever possible – additions and amendments to the legal tools available to the agency and local governments to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.

Actions

1.3.a    Survey existing laws, regulations, and policies

  • Review and organize governmental/agency laws and regulations related to AIS management and protection of waters within the District.
  • Identify legal authorities and procedures for governments/agencies within the District to interdict AIS.  Identify weaknesses, inconsistencies, gaps, or absences in authority.

1.3.b    Support and/or implement regulations or legislation that address needs identified in   1.3.a (above)

  1. To the extent allowed under MCWD rule-making authority, enact regulations and containment measures for preventing the establishment of new AIS in waterbodies.
  2. To the extent allowed by law, promote the enactment of local regulations and containment measures for preventing the establishment of new AIS in waterbodies.  Develop model ordinances to facilitate enactment of local regulations.  Promote strengthening of laws, regulations, and sanctions where weaknesses exist.
  3. Work with and, when necessary, initiate formal requests to other governments/agencies to strengthen rules and regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.
  1. Work with other units of government, such local government associations as the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts (MAWD), and non-governmental organizations to initiate and seek passage of legislation.
  2. Seek opportunities to expand funding sources and authority to manage AIS.
  3. The MCWD will, on its own, seek and/or initiate legislation or legislative amendments as may be necessary to further the goals of this AIS Management Plan. 

1.3.c    Promote compliance with AIS laws and regulations

Laws and regulations exist to bring about behavior that aligns with the purposes of public policy.  People are motivated to comply with laws and regulations for different reasons.  Some will do so just because they wish to do the right things, and that's why they?ve been put into law.  Others may take action because of negative sanctions for non-compliance.  Measures need to be in place to span the full spectrum of attitudes toward compliance.

  1. Promote public knowledge of laws and regulations to increase awareness and prevention of AIS through voluntary compliance.  Include social marketing principles when appropriate.
  • Required signage and notification of the presence of AIS and applicable laws/regulations should be present at all public accesses.  Care needs to be made so that such signage is easily identified and understood, rather than so overwhelming in number and/or complexity that it is ignored.
  1. Encourage local law enforcement agencies to have all of their officers become inspectors trained and certified by the DNR in order to use the full range of sanctions related to watercraft as allowed by law.  Encourage law enforcement agencies to make enforcement of AIS laws a high priority.
  2. Seek citation authority for non-licensed personnel to enforce AIS laws and regulations.   
  3. Support the establishment of strong, meaningful fines and consequences (e.g., license revocation, impoundment and/or forfeiture of watercraft) for violators of AIS laws and regulations.

ELEMENT 2 ? CONTAINMENT/ERADICATION (Early Detection and Rapid Response)

While prevention is the overarching goal in managing AIS, there is the reality that a new invasive plant or animal may appear in a waterbody.  The District must be vigilant to detect new infestations and be prepared to respond in ways that remove or contain the spread of invasive species when found.  The focus of strategies and actions in this Element of the Plan is to monitor, detect, and respond to new incidences of AIS.

It is critical to understand where AIS are present, as well as the features at and in waterbodies throughout the watershed indicating the likelihood that AIS may be introduced.  Consequently, the MCWD will need to develop information in a consistent manner that will be used on a District-wide basis.  Data for this information will come from surveys, inventories, reporting procedures, as well as those produced by other agencies such as the DNR.  Having baseline conditions established will make it easier to identify new infestations of AIS.  When new AIS are detected, rapid response protocols can be followed.

Effective responses to the new presence of AIS are facilitated through collaboration among numerous government agencies, organizations, researchers, and other groups interested in the environmental health and economic values of the District's water resources.

Strategy 1:      Inventory waterbodies, streams, and wetlands throughout the District to                                  document the presence of AIS.

The MCWD should become the organization that is seen as the authority regarding the presence of AIS within the District.  To do so, it will build a base of information for the presence (or absence) for all waterbodies in the District, and it is likely that this effort will span several years.  Existing data will be inventoried and used as the base for developing a data-collection system that will be consistent for whoever is gathering data for the District's use. 

Current knowledge of the presence of AIS is a starting-point to identifying neighboring waterbodies at risk for their spread.  These at-risk waters, as well as those with high recreational use or high ecological quality, will have priority in the survey/inventory process.

Actions

2.1.a    Develop survey methodology and standards
2.1.b    Inventory existing information from appropriate sources and conduct in-field surveys as necessary
2.1.c    Organize data into tabular summaries and maps to show distribution of AIS
2.1.d    Identify at-risk and priority waters to survey and monitor
2.1.e    Determine preferred schedule to re-survey waterbodies, streams, and wetlands

Strategy 2:      Monitor waterbodies for the presence of AIS

Taking samples and making observations about the presence of AIS is important in an overall management strategy.  Monitoring will be performed as a prevention activity in order to enhance prevention measures at nearby waterbodies when the presence of AIS is detected.

Actions

2.2.a    Develop a rigorous and robust monitoring program

  • The goal for this activity will be that every waterbody will be tested and monitored at least periodically for the presence of AIS.
  • Testing materials should be made available to trained volunteers to assist in the monitoring program.
  • Develop a reporting program for lake service providers to inform the District of suspected new presences of AIS.
  • Best management practices should be followed in testing and monitoring, and include the use of eDNA when appropriate.
  • Monitoring should be performed on nearby waterbodies outside of the MCWD's boundaries in order to identify threats that may come into the District.  Adjoining jurisdictions may share their monitoring information, or the District may seek permission to perform monitoring in them.
  • Monitoring data will be collected consistent with the methodology and standards identified in Strategy 1 (above).
  • The District will act as a central, coordinated repository of monitoring data and reports performed by MCWD and others that affect the watershed.

Strategy 3:      Develop and implement a rapid-response plan

According to the 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan of the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), developing an early-detection and rapid-response (EDRR) plan will provide a coordinated system to monitor, report, and effectively respond to newly-discovered and localized invasive species.  The success of such a plan will be predicated on the ability to share resources across jurisdictional boundaries, the establishment strategic partnerships, the availability of funds and technical resources, and the integration of response plans.  The NISC identifies the following three components for an EDRR plan:

  • Early Detection (ED):  where targeted species surveys and localized monitoring efforts are used to construct distribution maps and other ecological/biological data to facilitate planning and response actions.
  • Rapid Assessment (RA):  where the appropriate response to the ED and an overall strategy is formulated, and accounts for multi-jurisdictional issues.
  • Rapid Response (RR):  where localized populations are systematically eradicated or contained, including newly-discovered as well as expanding populations of existing invasives.

Actions

2.3.a    Prepare a rapid assessment and rapid response plan

Strategies 1 and 2, above, relate to the early-detection component of the EDRR plan.  The District will prepare a rapid assessment and rapid response plan that identifies appropriate actions to contain and/or remove newly-detected or ?expanding invasive species.

As there are others with significant authority over waters in the District, most notably the DNR, the rapid response plan will need to identify the District's role and responsibilities among the jurisdictions that may take action.  The sequence of actions in the protocol should include:

  • Initial notifications to DNR and local jurisdictions
  • Verification of introduction
  • Define extent of presence
  • External/public communications
  • Obtain and organize resources
  • Identification of measures (e.g., physical or policy) to prevent further spread
  • Take available and relevant control actions
  • Implement longer-term monitoring

Additionally, the plan should identify prevention activities to be taken on adjacent and nearby waters as part of rapid response.

2.3.b    Communicate rapid assessment and rapid response plan to local units of government within the District

Strategy 4:      Contain the spread of AIS when detected; remove and/or eradicate when feasible

All means – physical, mechanical, chemical, biological ? of removal or eradication of an infestation should be identified, and the costs and likelihood of success should be evaluated.  Where it is determined feasible to do so, removal/eradication should be pursued.   It is often the case, however, that once a species is detected, it will be impractical, very costly, or unrealistic to remove or eradicate.

Containment, which is designed to minimize the spread of a newly-detected or -expanding invasive species, then becomes the objective of a rapid response.  Containment implies that populations are small enough that further increases in their numbers or extent can be limited.  Containment measures will vary according to the conditions of the species and locations, and may include such management measures as restricting access or placing areas under quarantine.  (Containment and control techniques are discussed in Element 3, below.)  Some course of action may be simply to monitor an AIS to determine if it is increasing in areal extent, as a limited presence may not have potential significant negative impacts to human or environmental health or safety.  Consequently, Strategy 4 is general in nature and does not have specific actions identified for it.

ELEMENT 3 ? LONG-TERM CONTROL (MANAGEMENT) AND REMOVAL

As with the term ?containment?, the term ?control? implies that populations of various AIS are at levels where they can be managed, and not at levels where hope must be abandoned.  Unlike rapid-response containment, however, ?control? connotes long-term management of established populations of invasive species.  While the overall aim of controlling infestations is eventually to remove or eradicate them, circumstances may make this goal impractical, very costly, or unrealistic.  More practical goals of managing a species may be to treat it to non-nuisance levels, or to buy time for applied research to come up with techniques that successfully reduce or remove their presence.  An example of the latter is the identification and introduction of a beetle that has become an effective bio-control for purple loosestrife in the District.

Role and Purpose for MCWD:  Included in the definition of invasive species is their likelihood to ?cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.?  As mentioned in the introduction to this management plan, policies and goals in the MCWD 2007 Comprehensive Plan are designed around the ecological integrity of water resources within the District.  Accordingly, the District's involvement in the long-term management of AIS will be based on the benefit to the ecological system.  Other benefits, such as economics or recreational enjoyment, would be subordinate to the primary focus of ecological betterment.      

Performance of Management Activities:  There are a number of agencies and organizations that are presently or may in the future be performing management activities within the District.  The District will encourage them to undertake or continue their activities, and communicate that the District has identified ecological integrity as the basis for it to be further involved in their activities.

Strategy 1:      Develop control/eradication plans with the use of appropriate, effective                                    control techniques

For each control activity in which the District is to be involved, a control/eradication plan will need to be prepared.  A variety of techniques are available to control invasive aquatic plants and animals.  The District will take an ?all-of-the-above? approach in considering techniques that are effective, economical, and targeted to individual AIS.  These control measures will include:

1.      Biological controls:  This technique involves the introduction of natural predators that will prey upon specific AIS.  The introduced predators will have no or acceptable adverse effect on the local ecology.  An advantage of bio-controls is that they can become sustainable systems for long-term control and/or eradication. 

2.      Physical removal:  Examples of physical removal are hand-pulling of plants and netting of fish.  Physical removal will need to be performed in a manner that, for these examples, contains plant fragments or all possible fish to be netted.  Another technique for physical removal of fish includes tagging.  With common carp for example, following tagged fish can determine the extent and use of various habitats in all life stages.  This information can be used to decide upon the appropriate timing and technique for control of their populations.

3.      Mechanical harvesting:  Where mechanical harvesting is used, best management practices should be incorporated to ensure plant fragments are collected to prevent further spread.

4.      Chemical controls:  Herbicides, pesticides, piscicides, and other such ?icides are effective in controlling AIS, although they are perceived to have possible effects on other plants and animals that are in or use the waters that are treated.  Their use may need to be repeated on a regular or periodic basis.  Whenever they are used, best management practices must be employed, and any applicable regulatory restrictions carefully followed, to isolate drift and reduce deleterious impacts to non-target organisms. 

5.      Other methods:  Some techniques, like the use of benthic barriers or diver-assisted suction harvesting, are not currently allowed in Minnesota.  The District will advocate that effective control methods be permitted where they have no or acceptable adverse effects.  Other methods not identified above may also be useful controls and will be considered.

Strategy 2:      Identify appropriate parties to perform control activities

For each control activity in which the District is to be involved, the District will determine whether the MCWD or another appropriate entity will be responsible to perform it.  This evaluation will include whether the benefits are primarily for ecological or other reasons, organizational capacity to undertake the activity, and administrative economy.  In general, the District will prefer that control activities be performed by other entities and limit the District's participation to technical and financial assistance.

Strategy 3:      Facilitate control activities when and as appropriate

Local governments, residents, property owners, or organizations may approach the District for implementing control activities.  The District will provide technical assistance and advice to facilitate the implementation of these activities.  In cases where the District may be asked to perform or arrange for control activities, the District will accept petitions and evaluate the proposals, and the cost for doing so may be borne by the petitioners.  If the District subsequently causes control activities to be performed, the costs for them may be assigned proportionately to the requestor(s).

ELEMENT 4 ? RESEARCH

While some individual AIS have been present for decades, awareness of AIS has become more acute with the presence of new AIS in the past several years.  Research, information, and experience with AIS generally have been limited.  Aquatic invasive species is an emerging, rapidly-evolving field of science and applied science.  Development and dissemination of information are critical for effective, economical, and safe control of AIS.  The District will act as a central, coordinated repository of monitoring data and reports performed by MCWD and others that affect the watershed.

Strategy 1:      Address AIS populations through research and information transfer

The District takes a science-based approach in its programs and activities, and in its involvement with AIS will continue support of science and research to provide the basis of actions it will consider.

Actions

4.1.a    Remain current with the latest AIS abatement and control research and techniques

  • Identify and use ways to receive, distribute, and transfer information

4.1.b    Commission and participate in research designed to understand the impacts of AIS    on native biota and develop techniques to control and remove AIS

  • Identification of AIS research needs will be ongoing as new infestations occur and new threats are known.
  • The District will conduct research as it deems necessary and timely.  Applied research will be undertaken as demonstration projects, and shared with other organizations both within and outside of the District for their use.
  • The District will support research efforts that evaluate the use of chemicals and their impacts on non-target biota as a control technique.
  • The District will participate in research performed by other organizations by contributing, for example, funding, staff resources and knowledge, use of facilities and equipment.

Strategy 2:      Conduct and/or participate in social science research and application

The focus of much AIS research is in the hard sciences of biology, chemistry, and limnology.  As noted in elsewhere in this Plan, the introduction of AIS largely is the result of human activity.  Social science research is important to understand behaviors that can cause and prevent the introduction of AIS.

Actions

4.2.a    Conduct an economic analysis on the costs of responding to the presence of AIS

Understanding the public and private costs incurred or likely to be incurred due to the presence of AIS can provide a context for behavior and decision-making.  Research into the economics of AIS management can lead to cost-benefit analyses, and understanding the overall cost of doing nothing versus the costs of doing some course of action.  An economic study will provide the basis for more fully-informed decision-making by individuals and by governing bodies.

4.2.b    Support and/or conduct social marketing research

While information is powerful, knowledge does not necessarily lead to desired behavior.  The use of social marketing principles is increasingly important in helping individuals to take the right actions to prevent the spread of AIS.  The District will support research efforts and applications of social marketing principles relating to AIS management. 

Strategy 3:      Collaborate with others in research efforts; formalize relationships when appropriate

The District works with public and private organizations on a wide range of research projects, and often does so on a recurring basis.  These approaches leverage the expertise and resources of the District and those with which it partners on research activities.  As activities are conducted with these partners with some regularity, formalizing relationships may be considered when appropriate for administrative and financial economy.

One example is the District's relationship with the University of Minnesota, and possibilities of continuing it through the newly-established Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC).  As of the writing of this Plan, the District and the MAISRC are considering AIS research projects on common carp in the Six-Mile Creek subwatershed, a treatment for zebra mussels (in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey), and an economic analysis related to AIS in Minnesota.  As the District and the University are continuing research projects, some form of agreement to continue into the future should be considered.

Actions

4.3.a    Remain abreast of opportunities for basic and applied research opportunities with other organizations on AIS management, and provide funding and other resources as appropriate

ELEMENT 5 ? ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT

All of the elements, strategies, and actions in this section of the Plan – AIS Management Approaches and Activities – may occur singly or in any combination.  They represent starting points on a wide range of activities to prevent, contain, and control the spread of AIS.  As AIS management is a relatively new field in water resource management, new experience and evolving research will need to be incorporated by managers and those in scientific disciplines as they devise new measures to prevent and manage the presence of AIS.  It's a journey of continuous improvement, building upon gained knowledge to reduce uncertainty, maximize the efficient use of resources, and realize more effective results.

This Plan, and this particular section, then, is not intended to be static or prescriptive, or to limit the activities the District may consider.  New information on related important topics may have a bearing on management approaches.  In climate change, for example, data continue to be gathered and analyzed for their implications of a warmer climate in the Upper Midwest.  They may suggest likely changes to the geographic range of individual invasive species, and effects on their life cycles and impacts in longer warmer-water seasons.  Strategies and actions may need to be altered.  Management activities will always be challenged by the constraint of financial resources.  What is effective will need to be evaluated regularly, and whether and how activities are delivered will need to adapt to funding constraints.

In short, this Plan provides a framework for AIS management, and its effectiveness relies on a commitment to continuous review and evaluation, and an understood ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.  \