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A bi-level model for state and county aquatic invasive species prevention decisions

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Haight, Robert G.; Yemshanov, Denys ; Kao, Szu-Yu ; Phelps, Nicholas B.D.; Kinsley, Amy C.

Year Published



Journal of Environmental Management


Recreational boats are important vectors of spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) among waterbodies of the United States. To limit AIS spread, state and county agencies fund watercraft inspection and decontamination stations at lake access points. We present a bi-level model for determining how a state planner can efficiently allocate inspection resources to county managers, who independently decide where to locate inspection stations. In our formulation, each county manager determines a set of optimal plans for the locations of inspection stations under various resource constraints. Each plan maximizes inspections of risky boats that may carry AIS from infested to uninfested lakes within the county. Then, the state planner selects the set of county plans (i.e., one plan for each county) that maximizes the number of risky boats inspected throughout the state subject to a statewide resource constraint. We apply the model using information from Minnesota, USA, including the infestation status of 9182 lakes and estimates of annual numbers of boat movements from infested to uninfested lakes. Comparison of solutions of the bi-level model with solutions of a state-level model where a state planner selects lakes for inspection stations statewide shows that when state and county objectives are not aligned, the loss in efficiency at the state-level can be substantial.


Eurasian watermilfoil; Integer programming; Invasive species prevention; Optimization; Stackelberg game; Starry stonewort; Tradeoff analysis; Zebra mussel


Haight, Robert G.; Yemshanov, Denys; Kao, Szu-Yu; Phelps, Nicholas B.D.; Kinsley, Amy C. 2023. A bi-level model for state and county aquatic invasive species prevention decisions. Journal of Environmental Management. 327(2): 116855. 9 p.

Last updated on: January 11, 2023