6.10 Section 4 - Implementation
The AIS Management Plan has thus far discussed the strategies and activities that the MCWD will pursue, and the purpose and rationale behind the various parts of the Plan. This section will address ways that the District can use the Plan to take actions to prevent, contain, or control the spread of aquatic invasive species.
This Plan is responsive to the current presence of AIS and proactive regarding the introduction and spread of AIS. It stresses the advantages of and needs for partnerships and collaboration on many initiatives. The field of AIS management is a relatively new and emerging one, and changes occur rapidly with new research and experience. This Plan must embrace adaptive management as conditions may change in terms of:
- the ability for partners to participate,
- the ability to use new techniques and approaches, and
- the annual commitment of financial resources made to AIS management by the MCWD Board of Managers.
So, it is difficult to prepare a table with a multi-year schedule of activities and anticipated costs and funding sources, because much of the AIS management plan is fluid and dynamic. Rather, what will be implemented will be made by decisions during the annual budgeting process, with an understanding that some of those budgetary decisions may need to honor multiple-year programs or contractual commitments.
Some Guiding Principles
Limits on time and money resources imply that priorities will be identified, as decisions will need to be made among competing and often worthy activities. Additionally, there are competing interests to be balanced in a watershed that is geographically large, and very diverse in its land uses and water resources.
During its work to develop this Plan, the AIS Plan Task Force discussed several principles to guide decision-making when the District is considering projects and activities to undertake. The ones having the greatest level of agreement are:
- Prevention of introduction of AIS is the primary goal; focusing resources on prevention is preferred to control and maintenance activities.
- Activities that have District-wide benefits are preferred to ones that address singular waterbodies.
- Preference should be given to working with friendly partners, and on activities that leverage other public and private resources.
- Activities should focus on what’s best for the environment, rather than what’s expedient or economical from a human perspective.
- Preference should be given to headwaters, high-use recreational waters, and high-quality natural environments.
- The connectedness of waterbodies, and the potential for impacts downstream, is important.
- Public and District-wide benefits are preferred to private benefits.
General Approach to Implementation
Prevention is the primary focus for AIS management.
Implementation over time will be done with adaptive management. It will be responsive to changing circumstances. It may be affected by changes that affect the authority or scope of action accorded to the District, or by the establishment of new MCWD rules related to AIS management.
AIS are present in varying degrees and locations throughout the District. They, or invasive species new to the region, may appear in new places anywhere. The MCWD will take a District-wide perspective in allocating resources for AIS management.
While opportunities for AIS management exist throughout the District, the MCWD is bound by statutes about what it may do or cause to be done. For example, the MCWD does not own or control public water accesses; consequently, it must work with others for watercraft inspections in order to further the prevention goals of this AIS management plan. Given limited funding and different values among communities about the importance of AIS management, the District will perform activities where local governments and other organizations are willing to invest and work with the District to implement them. The District will provide financial and technical resources to others to make things happen that further the goals of the management plan.
Implementation will take into account the ability of partners and other organizations to fund management activities on short- and long-term bases.
The District will prefer to empower or involve the private sector in service delivery.
In designing management activities, the District will not supplant the work of others but will complement them and/or fill gaps in what is being performed. The District will undertake activities and projects that initiate or build upon work that has been done, rather than to replace services or research that have been performed by others.
The District will support innovation and technology in the activities, programs, and projects to manage AIS. MCWD will initiate or participate in pilot projects.
Adequate financial resources will be critical to the successful implementation this Plan. The following is a brief discussion of key sources of funding.
For the MCWD: There is a variety of funding sources that will affect the ability of the District to implement AIS management activities from year to year. Those directly affecting the District include:
Taxes: The District has authority to levy property taxes, and it is permitted to levy each year what is necessary to accomplish what is in the Comprehensive Plan. Taxes likely will be the primary source of funds for AIS management, and will be subject to the overall tax levy policies and goals set by the MCWD Board of Managers.
Fees: The District may establish fees for certain permit inspections and related costs. By State law, these fees may be set but are limited to recovering the actual costs of these activities.
Grants: Grant funding may be available from a variety of sources, and especially from other units of government. Grants may cover all of the costs of an activity, or require that there be a qualifying or matching amount from the District. The District will pursue these opportunities as appropriate.
For Partner Organizations: Collaboration is important in achieving many of the strategies in AIS management. The District can facilitate financing for partners willing to be involved in activities identified in this Plan. Funding mechanisms available to these willing partners include:
Cost-share grants from MCWD: The District may make grant funds available on a cost-sharing arrangement with local governments, property owners associations, and other public and private entities for activities that implement the District’s strategies and actions in AIS management.
Establishment of “local taxing districts”: As an example, a lake association may want to have some treatment in their lake, and may find it difficult to raise funds on a voluntary basis to pay for it. For another, the District may encourage or perform a management activity that benefits owners of adjoining or nearby properties, and there needs to be assurance that funding for the private benefit will be collected. There are mechanisms in State statute that can facilitate the collection of funds on an equitable and predictable basis:
- Lake Improvement District (M.S. 103B.501 - 581): A lake improvement district (LID) is a special purpose unit of government that may make improvements within its jurisdiction. A LID may be established by a county board, or by a petition of property owners to a county board. The county board may levy property taxes within the LID, and special assessments may be levied on properties. A LID may contract with a watershed district for certain improvements and services.
- Water Management District (M.S. 103D.729): A watershed district may establish a water management district for the purpose of collecting revenues and paying the costs for certain improvements and services.
- Special Assessments (M.S. 103D.901): A watershed district may assess the costs of projects against benefitting properties (in a similar manner that other local units of government may levy special assessments).
The MCWD will work with willing groups to establish such districts or that petition for special assessment projects.
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The presence of AIS is caused primarily as a result of introduction by human activity. As people are responsible for AIS being within the watershed, ultimately they will need to take personal responsibility to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS. Implementation of the 2013 AIS Management Plan identifies strategies, activities, and tools that can be used immediately while the ethic of personal responsibility regarding AIS becomes a social norm. In the meantime, following the Plan will safeguard the ecological quality and enjoyment of aquatic resources within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.