By Zachary Sheldon, Upper Midwestern States Coordinator
From February 28 – March 1, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Upper Midwestern States Coordinator Zachary Sheldon attended the “Aquatic Invaders Summit: An Exploration of Local Collaboration, Innovation and Opportunity” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Summit provided updates on the latest applied science and new programs implemented to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and offered the opportunity to create new partnerships and increase collaboration between organizations in their efforts to combat AIS.
Seminars during the Summit covered a wide range of topics, including assessments of the spread of AIS in Minnesota and across the region, the impact of AIS on fisheries and anglers, and research into new methods to control AIS.
AIS include aquatic plants, animals, or pathogens that are not native to a region and possess characteristics that allow them to competitively displace native species and/or disrupt ecosystems. This has the potential to harm the economy, natural resources, or the human health of a given area. AIS are a serious concern in the Midwest and across the nation. Species such as Asian carp, zebra mussels, and water hyacinth pose major threats to the economies and ecosystems native species of the region rely on. Nationally, combatting AIS and terrestrial invasive species costs an estimated $120 billion in damages and control each year.
While efforts are needed to curtail the spread of AIS, some local municipalities have implemented programs that restrict access to certain lakes and rivers, except during certain hours when an inspector is present. Such programs unnecessarily limit angler and boater participation and access to these natural resources. Through the American System of Conservation Funding, recreational anglers provide a significant amount of the funding for management of these public waters, as well as access facility construction and maintenance. Efforts to combat AIS should provide reasonable access to public waters and facilities, and be constructed in a way that is science-based and measurable with limited impacts to angling access.
In 2017, anglers and boaters in Minnesota contributed nearly $45 million – through fishing license purchases and excise taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel – toward the conservation of the state’s natural resources. To learn more about how to prevent the spread of AIS, Minnesota anglers and boaters should read the “Clean In Clean Out” procedures found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?