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Texas Giant Salvinia Effort Reaches Boaters, Raises Awareness

AUSTIN – Survey results show last year’s giant Salvinia public awareness campaign by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reached more than half of boaters living within 60 miles of four East Texas lakes targeted in the effort and that 96 percent of those boaters said they were “more likely to clean their boat, trailer or gear as a result of seeing information or advertising.”

Giant Salvinia is usually spread unknowingly by people moving their boats from lake to lake. The plant “hitches a ride” on boats, motors and trailers. The invasive plant was first discovered in Texas in a small pond near Houston in 1998. It has been reported in 17 Texas lakes, including some of the state’s most popular recreational water bodies: Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, Caddo Lake, Sheldon Lake, Lake Texana and Lake Conroe.

Last spring’s “Hello Giant Salvinia, Goodbye Texas Lakes” campaign media buy generated more than 28.5 million audience impressions amongst boaters, anglers, and the general public. Efforts included floating messages on buoys near key boat ramps, fish measuring rulers with campaign messages, online web banner ads, social media, gasoline “pump toppers” and billboard ads near key lakes, and even an amusing TV ad featuring “salvinia monster” trying hitch a ride with a hapless boater.

Given the success of the Salvinia awareness effort, the department is now considering a similar initiative for zebra mussels, another serious invasive threat that is not yet widespread in Texas. The non-native mussels multiply rapidly and attach themselves to boats, piers, cables and other objects. Zebra mussels can block water treatment plant intakes and pipes, as well as cause declines in fish populations, native mussels, and birds.

“We are actively seeking partners to help make a zebra mussel awareness campaign a reality,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “Although currently only established in Lake Texoma in Texas, this exotic invader is on the doorstep of the Metroplex region and could eventually spread throughout the Trinity River system toward Houston.”

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