The following is a letter from Pat Suozzi, the President of the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds requesting that you take a moment to submit a comment on the reduction of funding for aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention and control as the Governor prepares his budget.
Please read about this issue below, and learn how you can make a comment.
Dear Friends of Vermont Lakes,
This is the time of year when the Governor prepares his budget to submit to the state legislature in January. The public is invited to submit comments on funding needs and priorities. I am writing to you today to ask you to consider submitting a comment regarding the reduction in funding for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention and control. You can submit your comment here.
Many lake associations that manage greeter programs have received some funds from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Aquatic Nuisance Control (ANC) Grant-in-Aid program. For the last 10 years that program has been level-funded at $450,000. However, for 2023 that fund will be reduced to between $305,000 and $310,000. This was announced at the same time we learned of three new AIS infestations in formerly pristine lakes in the state.
We need funds not only for educational outreach and greeter programs to prevent infestations, but also to manage and control existing infestations so AIS is not carried from those lakes to non-infested lakes. Now more than ever we need funding for AIS prevention and control to increase – not decrease!
Here are some further details that may help you in submitting your comments:
- Vermont law requires AIS prevention: In 1978, Vermont lawmakers recognized the critical threat posed by aquatic invasive species and passed Vermont’s Aquatic Nuisance Control law (10 V.S.A. Chapter 50). This law states: “It is the policy of the state of Vermont to prevent the infestation and proliferation of invasive species in the state that result in negative environmental impacts, including habitat loss and a reduction in native biodiversity along with adverse social and economic impacts and impacts to the public health and safety.” (10 V.S.A, Chapter 50. §1451)
- The state’s General Fund provides only $25,000 for AIS prevention and control.
- Source of ANC Funds:DEC is allocated a portion of the Motorboat Registration fees (MBR). A percentage of this is used for staff salaries for AIS prevention and permitting (due to lack of general fund support as noted in #2 above) with the remainder funding the Aquatic Nuisance Control (ANC) grant-in-aid program. For at least a decade, this program has been level funded and has consisted of $250,000 from the MBR fees, $100,000 from an Army Corps of Engineers grant, and $100,000/year from a one-time surplus.
- 2023 Reduction: The one-time surplus is now depleted reducing the funds to $350,000. This will be further reduced because the administration of the Grant-in-Aid program is being outsourced to a provider who will charge a fee (probably 15%), leaving approximately $305,000 for AIS prevention programs.
- ANC Staffing: Staffing in the program was reduced to one person several years ago. Due to this reduction the Grant-in-Aid program is being outsourced
- The new grant program:The grant program will, for the first time, be competitive which means it is possible that not all current greeter programs will necessarily receive funding. Priority for funds that are available will be for AIS prevention with little to no funding for AIS management and control.
- The need:In 2022 the ANC program received nearly $2 million in requests for AIS prevention and control. Of the 800+ lakes and ponds in the state, only 34 have greeter programs, not all of which operate 7 days/week, and only 4 have boat washers.
- What about the $50 million in the Clean Water Budget?AIS prevention and control is NOT eligible for any of these funds.
Please submit a comment as soon as possible on the Governor’s Budget here: https://finance.vermont.gov/about-department/contact-us/public-comments-budget-process
Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds