Invasives Awareness Program Hits a Benchmark as 120th Partner Joins in the Effort
"Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!," the national Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force program designed to raise public awareness about aquatic invasive species, has signed its 120th partner to a long list that includes Federal agencies,states, universities,businesses and national, regional and local conservation organizations. As the primary funding agency for the campaign, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to promote "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!" to all the partner organizations.
"This campaign is fundamentally different from most other efforts that deal with natural resources," said Mamie Parker, the Service's Assistant Director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation and a co-chair of the ANS Task Force. "Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is a communications vehicle that urges the conservation community to speak with a single voice. Partners join this campaign and incorporate it into their own outreach programs, and that's made it a huge success."
Parker said the National Wildlife Federation is the newest partner, linking the Service program to the nation's largest conservation organization membership.
The program provides information to more than 1,600 subscribers through an Email news service that carries updates on aquatic nuisance species, information about how communities are addressing the issue and general coverage of developments in the aquatic nuisance species field.
A grant from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has enabled New Hampshire, South Carolina, Missouri and Arizona to implement pilot programs that will measure public awareness among various audiences and attempt to gauge the program's effectiveness.
"In the long term," said Parker, "the goal is to enlist Americans across the country in a campaign that will hopefully translate into a decrease in damage caused by invasive species in the United States."
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is available at http://www.protectyourwaters.net/. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance Program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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