Program helps boaters stop spread of invasives

Project Summary: Minnesota Sea Grant is expanding its highly successful Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ program. The program educates boaters and anglers about how to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Project name: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ campaign.

Location: Based at the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program in Duluth, Minn.aquabanner

Description: Zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species that were imported to the Great Lakes by transoceanic freighters and other sources have caused billions of dollars of economic and ecological damage. Minnesota Sea Grant’s Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ has worked to slow the spread of invasive species by educating boaters about the importance of washing their boats after every outing. Dirty boats can carry invasive species from one waterway to another. Sea Grant’s program uses a variety of tools — billboards, signs, cards, presentations, Web sites and social media — to educate boaters about the need to combat invasive species. The program began in Minnesota but has since spread across the Great Lakes basin. The program received a $1.5 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant in 2010 to expand outreach efforts. That grant helped the campaign educate more than 10 million people about the need to clean boats. In 2012, Minnesota Sea Grant received a $400,000 grant to expand the program. The new effort will use social media and education to teach people how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species via 15 different pathways. Sea Grant will produce 30 new or improved outreach products that could be seen by 7 million people in 40 communities. The program could help efforts to develop similar programs in other parts of the country.

Approximate cost of project: Two grants Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling $1.9 million.

Resource challenges addressed: Aquatic invasive species.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations employees Randy Sickles, Bob Kohner and Gene Nesler scrape Zebra mussels off a lock wall. Photo from Flickr/USACE HQ.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations employees Randy Sickles, Bob Kohner and Gene Nesler scrape Zebra mussels off a lock wall. Photo from Flickr/USACE HQ.

Key partners (public and private): University of Minnesota Sea Grant, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and more than 1,000 other businesses, industry groups, universities and non-profit organizations.

Results and accomplishments:  The first phase of the campaign, which received a $1.5 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant in 2010, was seen by 10 million people across the Great Lakes basin.The latest GLRI grant of $400,000 is expected to help the campaign reach another 7 million people.

Website: www.protectyourwaters.net

Originally Published: February 12, 2013

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