Don’t mess with invasive plants in Texas

Giant salvinia in Caddo Lake

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that last year’s campaign to increase the public’s awareness of the invasive aquatic plant giant salvinia reached more than half of its intended audience. Of the boaters living within 60 miles of four lakes in east Texas who saw an ad or information about giant salvinia, 96 percent said they were “more likely to clean their boat, trailer or gear….”

Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a native of Brazil that came to North America as a plant for water gardens. It can grow up to three feet thick, and can double in size in a week. It has plagued the lakes of eastern Texas for over 10 years, and is also found in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
According to a department release, the campaign included floating messages on buoys near key boat ramps, fish measuring rulers with campaign messages, online web banner ads, Twitter and Facebook posts, gasoline-pump toppers, billboard ads near key lakes, and a cute television public service announcement (PSA) that personifies giant salvinia as a doofus hoping to hitch a ride with a boater to cause trouble in other lakes.

The campaign was so successful that the department may try a similar effort for zebra mussels, which are not yet as established in the state as giant salvinia.

Read the full press release here. You can find the press releases, radio spots, a PDF of the ruler, and two versions of the television PSA here.

Photo: Giant salvinia in Caddo Lake, Texas, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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