Boater Knowledge and Behavior Regarding Aquatic Invasive Species at a Boat Wash Station

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Northwest Science

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Overland movement of recreational boaters between waterbodies is a significant pathway for spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS). Boater awareness of AIS and proper boat cleaning procedures may prove beneficial in reducing the transport, introduction, and establishment of invaders. Our objectives were to observe the use and determine the efficacy of a public boat wash station, gain a better understanding of boater knowledge on AIS and boat cleaning procedures, and help guide future educational outreach and AIS management. We conducted a three-tier human subjects survey at Tenmile Lake, Oregon over a two-year period in which a boat wash station was installed, allowing comparison of boater behavior and attitudes before and after the station was operational. The survey consisted of an observational survey, a short form (quick answer) survey, and an in-depth survey in which boaters could elaborate on their knowledge of AIS and regulations. The comparison between boaters surveyed before and after the installation of a boat wash station indicated discrepancies between what boaters say they will do and how they behave. While 76% of boaters said they would use a boat wash station prior to its installation, only 39% of boaters were observed using the station after it was installed. Additionally, the surveys identified knowledge gaps of boater AIS awareness, with > 20% of boaters unable to name any AIS. Our research indicates that even with innovative tools and targeted outreach, knowledge of AIS is still limited among the boating community and other education and management techniques need exploration.


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