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12 Tips for Staving Off the Zebra Mussel Infestation

Tips from Candlewood Watershed Initiative Chairman Jim McAlister.

This is the first in a series of articles from various sources concerning what boaters of all types — fishermen, recreational enthusiasts, pleasure seekers and others — need to do to prevent the inadvertent introduction of zebra mussels (ZMs) into Candlewood Lake. It provides 12 tips on how to avoid the risk of zebra mussels hitchhiking their way into the Lake and then possibly spreading and colonizing to the Lake’s long-term detriment and that of its residents. Consider clipping this article for ongoing reference by those in your family who enjoy the Lake’s benefits since we all need to take special precautions to help ensure Candlewood remains ZM-free.

  1. Get up to speed on the nature and potential impact of the zebra mussel threat — it’s real, it’s significant, it’s approaching Candlewood and it must be stopped (check the CLA website, Candlewood Lake United’s Facebook page or search for “zebra mussels”)
  2. Realize that vessels of all types and sizes and related equipment are potential carriers — young, so-called veligers are not visible to the eye; adults seek out hull and motor crevasses 
  3. Recognize that all recreational users — fishermen, pleasure boaters, water skiers, wake boarders, PWC enthusiasts, even kayakers — must be attentive to the risks of hitchhiking ZMs
  4. Understand that the best — and potentially only effective — means of prevention is to avoid boating or fishing in contaminated waters, then transporting elsewhere; once a lake is infected and if the ZMs colonize, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to extricate them
  5. Know which water bodies in the region are infected with ZMs and avoid launching there as the fail-safe approach — these now include nearby Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah, the Twin Lakes (Salisbury), the Upper Housatonic, Laurel Lake (Mass.), Hudson River and Lake George among others
  6. Reconsider your boating habits, patterns and preferences to identify ways to eliminate the risks of ZM transport between infected and uninfected waters; practice the concept of “One Boat, One Lake” (OBOL) by selecting a single lake for the season
  7. If you dock or moor on Candlewood, consider leaving your boat there for the summer rather than occasionally transporting it elsewhere; if you trailer your vessel or carry it atop your car, likewise restrict its use to uninfected waters
  8. If you travel to infected waters, consider renting or borrowing a boat there rather than transporting your own, or deploy different vessels for different waters as some boaters do
  9. If you are a tournament fisherman, consider only participating in events scheduled in “clean waters” (alternatively, only launch in infected waters and avoid Candlewood)
  10. If you enjoy “lake hopping” or “day tripping,” critically reconsider its advisability given the obvious risks; rather, select a “home lake” and restrict your enjoyment to that water body
  11. After weighing the risks, if infected waters are not to be avoided, ensure that your vessel and equipment are thoroughly decontaminated when leaving or before entering another lake
  12. All boat owners and other users need to understand and comply with separate guidelines and techniques to be promulgated for decontaminating vessels to avoid ZM carriage — this is essential.

So enjoy Candlewood to its fullest but be proactive in ensuring it doesn’t become endangered.

Bob McGarrah March 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM
I am sure you will touch on it in future articles but there is a good chance of ruining your motor if Zebra mussels grow in the engine cooling system. They clog the passages and the engine overheats - often to destruction. One lake - one boat- makes the most sense. Adequate "cleaning" is risky and very subjective. The risk is real and the responsibility is ours as boaters. Bob McGarrah
Steven DeVaux March 23, 2011 at 01:01 AM
It only takes one single person not caring to make all the difference in the world to everyone else. How do you do that and comply with the law?
Matt Dewkett March 23, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Steve, you are right. It is exactly how milfoil got into Candlewood Lake, among others, in the first place. Just a few people that don't check their gear for plants, or mussels in this case, makes a nightmare for everyone else. In Maine, they set up volunteer efforts to check boats for plants (milfoil). Maybe that is a solution for Candlewood? Maybe the towns that surround the lake could put together a task force to implement such a plan. I know there are a lot of people that tout the work of volunteers on here, maybe they can stir some up to work on this problem once the playground is complete. :)

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