Lt. Governor's Visit Highlights New Efforts to Protect Our Natural Resources
Lt. Governor Prettner Solon and senior policy advisor, Will Seuffert, spent time on Isle Royale reviewing efforts to address aquatic invasive species.
Last week, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon visited Isle Royale, Michigan. The island is located in the northwestern corner of Lake Superior – a two-hour ferry ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota.
The 850 square-mile island’s isolated location provides one of the most unique ecosystems in North America. Isle Royale is home to only 18 mammal species, unlike the nearest mainland, which hosts more than 40 species. The island also houses the longest running large mammal predator-prey study on earth.
Unfortunately, this otherwise pristine wilderness is now grappling with aquatic invasive species such as spiny water fleas, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels. These water-based invaders can disrupt the natural ecosystem – pushing out native plants, fish, and animals.
During her visit, the Lieutenant Governor traveled aboard the Ranger III, a National Park Service lake boat, to review efforts to address invasive species on the island and in the waters surrounding it. Here in Minnesota, we also have made new efforts to address aquatic invasive species.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) first began addressing aquatic invasive species in 1987. Since then, the DNR has developed a comprehensive program with more than 160 permanent and seasonal staff dedicated to quelling aquatic invasive species.
These efforts aren’t just important for our environment either. Aquatic invasive species cost the Great Lakes regional economy – including fishing, tourism, and power generation – more than $100 million a year.
This year, Governor Mark Dayton, the Lieutenant Governor, and DFL legislature created a budget with new resources for addressing aquatic invasive species. The new budget provides:
Funding for the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to develop new techniques for controlling aquatic invasive species – including Asian carp and zebra mussels. This research center is the only in the world working to combat aquatic invasive species.
New resources for the Department of Natural Resources’ aquatic invasive species management program, funding for raising public awareness, and boat inspections at water access sites.
These new efforts will help us protect Minnesota’s natural environment, native species, and our economy from degradation.