LANSING — A measure to reduce regulation and simplify the process for people to treat and control aquatic invasive species received final approval by the state Senate on Thursday.
Senate Bill 444 was introduced by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, at the request of numerous constituents living near lakes in the Upper Peninsula. The residents asked for changes to the law to make it quicker and easier for them to gain approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to control invasive plants such as Eurasian Watermilfoil in local lakes.
“Our lakes are quickly becoming more infested with invasive species that are costly to control and can inhibit the use and enjoyment of our water resources if left untreated,” Casperson said. “While local communities fight to control these aquatic plants, they should not be held up by state bureaucracy and burdensome permit requirements. Instead, the state should be working more cooperatively and strategically to ensure reasonable control measures can be carried out quickly and efficiently.”
The legislation makes a number of administrative changes to ensure communities can more effectively fight the threat that invasive species pose, including changing the required approval for treatment from an annual requirement to a three-year permit or certificate of coverage, prohibiting the department from charging additional fees for amendments to permits, allowing permits to be processed year round, and allowing permittees to expand their treatment area without prior approval from the DEQ under certain conditions.
“Given the tremendous value of our waterways to our way of life in Michigan and to the economic, recreational and cultural activity of so many communities in the Upper Peninsula, the state should be doing much more to partner financially and with reasonable regulations to ensure locals can smoothly move forward in preventing and controlling aquatic invasive species that threaten the waterways,” Casperson said. “In the days ahead, I welcome input from U.P. residents on additional improvements that can be made to allow us to be even more effective.”
SB 444 now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.