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Invasives in Candlewood Lake: Prevention Is the Priority

A letter from Candlewood Watershed Initiative Chairman Jim McAlister on the need to be proactive to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Letter to the Editor:

The politically correct call them ‘aquatic nuisance species.’ The disengaged refer to them as Eurasian watermilfoil, didymo, zebra mussels, quagga mussels and the like — and indeed they are fouling and muscling their way across the region. Those who have firsthand experience with them call them by far more primitive, far less printable names.  

Suffice to say that these aquatic invaders, be they plants or animals, risk over-populating and overwhelming waters near us and may soon become all-too-familiar and very unpopular names. That is, unless and until we all wake up to the threat, unite in our own defense, and seriously commit to keeping these marauders at bay. Candlewood Lake‘s destiny and our recreational and property values could rest in the balance. Prevention is the priority.

Zebra mussels are now atop the hit parade list and for good reason. While thankfully there is no evidence of their arrival yet… they have invaded nearby waters, they are prolific and, if and when they do arrive and colonize it could be too late for the Lake — chances of extricating them are slim to none.

Given that the larval form of these zebra mussels will soon be drifting in infected waters and that the season for unwittingly transporting these critters — by boating and fishing and kayaking and waterskiing and canoeing and wake boarding and water crafting of all types — is now upon us, the time to motivate is now. Plans are afoot to try and preempt their entry here, but this will be no cakewalk, no time for naysayers nor pussyfooting. It’s a time for all to become informed, engaged, and serious in preventing their arrival. Half-a-loaf won’t hunt.

Here’s what is being urged be instituted now for this season: that the DEEP staff both state boat ramps during extended boating hours, and that municipalities, private communities, and others increase controls over boat ramp access; that First Light re-commit not to pump up from the Housatonic River when zebra young are active; that the long-awaited solution be implemented to prevent zebra mussels from exiting their spawning ground in MA; that all organized fishing tournament sponsors and participants comply with essential event rotation requirements, plus accepted decontamination and dry-time protocols; that the regulation making it illegal to transport zebra mussels and other named invasive species be broadcast and enforced; that all media channels be actively utilized throughout the season to inform and urge compliance with sound protective guidelines.

Here’s what you, your family members, and boating visitors need to do now and going forward: become informed on the threat, know which waters are infected, and review the video ‘Don’t Move a Muscle’ for boat cleaning guidance (see candlewoodlakeauthority.org; 100thmeridian.org; or simply search online); adjust your boating habits to avoid infested waters as the only sure-fire way to prevent carriage; comply with boat decontamination instructions without fail if your craft has been exposed; internalize the dangers and permanent consequences of inaction; then pass the word, engage your teenagers, proactively practice and urge compliance with essential protocols.  

The responsibility to protect these treasured waters is ours. Prevention is the priority if Candlewood is to remain the premier lake in CT and serve as our legacy for future generations.

Jim McAlister
Candlewood Watershed Initiative
barb norman May 20, 2014 at 01:17 PM
We all need to spread the word - and not only for Candlewood, but for Lilinonah as well!
Suzen Pettit May 21, 2014 at 08:35 AM
Jim if you could include live links to the specific sites we should be going to that would help many. Also is there a list you could post of which waters are already infected in our area?
Concerned May 23, 2014 at 01:12 PM
Suzen the Housatonic river already has zebra mussels so it is only a matter of time until both Brookfield lakes get them as well seeing that the river feeds both lakes.

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