by Sarah DePillo, FLI Watercraft Steward Program Intern
This summer marks my second season working with the Finger Lakes Institute on their remarkably successful Watercraft Steward Program. The Watercraft Steward Program, which has recently kicked off for the summer, places trained stewards at boat launches throughout the Finger Lakes region and on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in an effort to educate boaters on aquatic invasive species issues and prevent the spread of invasive species by physically removing them from boats.
As an educational efficacy assessor for the Watercraft Steward Program, I will be spending this summer designing and administering a survey at several of the boat launches both on weekdays and weekends during the month of July. The survey is intended to measure public perceptions, attitudes towards, and knowledge of invasive species, as well as amenability and support for various management techniques and policy approaches for the overall issue of aquatic invasive species.
Some of the things that the survey is asking are attempting to understand whether the person is familiar with invasive species issues. If they are, where they are getting their information, and what their motivations are for preserving the well-being of the lakes? The survey is also asking questions regarding specific invasive species management techniques, such as transport laws that require boats to be inspected and fines for non-compliant boaters; cleaning stations at launches; the use of herbicides; and more. The survey aims to understand where the public stands on some of these issues and potential actions to resolve them.
Any person who is approached at a boat launch and asked to complete the survey may voluntarily do so as long as they are of 18 years of age. All participants will be greatly appreciated for contributing to our research, and all opinions are valued. Hopefully, the information collected about the users of Finger Lakes boat launches will be valuable both to improve the efficacy of our own Watercraft Steward Program, and also to inform local policy makers and stakeholders of the public opinion and level of involvement or interest regarding these issues.
These are our waterbodies to preserve and protect; help us to understand how we can continue to do so by indicating what you are and are not willing to support in terms of solutions!