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Great Lakes Article:

Grants to help battle pests
Applications open for groups to fight aquatic nuisances
By Erica Kolaski
Cheboygan Daily Tribune

CHEBOYGAN - The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council recently announced that federal and state grant money is available for local groups that are attempting to combat aquatic nuisance species in Michigan lakes.

Watershed Aquatics Habitat Director Jill Ryan said that the Watershed Council received funding from the Office of the Great Lakes, through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to administer the aquatic nuisance species information and education small grants program in Michigan.

"Types of activities that will be funded include boater education activities, training programs, and inventory and detection system pilot projects," said Ryan.

She explained that the program will be administered through the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund, a project of the Watershed Council. The $24,000 in funding will be used to administer a Michigan grant program for groups working to provide information and education programs for local initiatives to prevent and control aquatic nuisance species in Michigan waters, she said.

"If your 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization, school, indigenous tribal entity, or local unit of government is working to protect Michigan's waters from this onslaught you may be eligible for funds," she explained.

Application deadline is March 12, 2004, with grant periods beginning in May 2004, said Ryan.

"Michigan's waters continue to come under assault," she said. "Zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, alewives, lamprey eels and other exotics are threatening the plants and animals that belong here.

"This has far reaching consequences for tourism, agriculture, recreation, and fishing. Much remains to be done to shut off the paths that these nuisance species use to enter the Great Lakes and to spread within Michigan," she continued.

Ryan explained that species can still enter the lakes in ship ballast water, aquatic weeds hitchhike on boats traveling from lake to lake, sea lamprey spawn in tributaries, and that other species are poised to enter the Great Lakes through holes in our net of protection.

She urged local groups to take advantage of this funding, stating: "Funding will assist local initiatives working to prevent and control aquatic nuisance species. By working locally, organizations can provide local knowledge and cooperation to reduce the impacts of these non-native plants and animals on our waters."

For more information, contact Jill Ryan, Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund Director at Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, 426 Bay Street, Petoskey MI 49770, or call 231-347-1181 ext. 106.

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