Learn how to stop invasive species in Shelton lake

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will offer a session to help combat invasive species and animals in waterways such as Lake Housatonic, which borders Shelton.

The training is intended to prepare Connecticut residents for volunteering to monitor local boat launches for the presence of invasive plants and animals, such as zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Housatonic in 2011, and earlier in Lake Zoar and Lake Lillinonah in 2010. All three lakes are formed by dams in the Housatonic River.

Lake Housatonic goes from the Derby/Shelton dam on Canal Street, just north of downtown Shelton, to the Stevenson Dam on the Monroe/Oxford border. Indian Well State Park is located on Lake Housatonic.

These were the first new reports of zebra mussels in Connecticut since 1998, when they had been discovered in a northern Litchfield County lake.

Learn how to help

The training session will be held Saturday, July 27 from 9:30 a.m.-noon at Flotilla 72, Dominic Lametta Training Center, 50 Calf Pasture Beach Road, Norwalk. For more information or to volunteer, contact the DEEP’s Gwendolynn Flynn at 860-447-4339 or gwendolynn.flynn@ct.gov.

The training will educate volunteers on how to identify and detect invasive species and also to instruct boaters on how to do the same.

Volunteers also talk to boaters about ways they can prevent the spread of invasive species. Course participants will receive a handbook, supplies and a T-shirt that identifies them as volunteers.

Zebra mussels are spreading

The zebra mussel is a black and white-striped bivalve mollusk, which was introduced into North American waters through the discharge of ship ballast water.

Since its discovery in the upper Midwest in 1998, the zebra mussel has spread throughout the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River system and most of New York state, including Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.

More recently both zebra mussels and quagga mussels (a related invasive species) have been expanding their range into a number of western and southwestern states.

Like the zebra mussel, numerous invasive plants have been introduced into Connecticut waters. These invasive plants can form dense mats, making boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities nearly impossible.

Through education, boaters can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals, and with the help of volunteers, boaters across the state are receiving the proper information about invasive species.

How to stop invasive species

Actions anglers and boaters must take to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals, including zebra mussels, are as follows:

Before leaving a boat launch:

— Clean all visible plant, fish and animals as well as mud or other debris. Do not transport them home.

— Drain all water from every space and item that may hold water.

At home or prior to your next launch:

— Dry anything that comes in contact with water (boats, trailers, anchors, propellers, etc.) for a minimum of one week during hot/dry weather or a minimum of four weeks during cool/wet weather.

If drying is not possible, clean boat prior to the next launch.

When fishing:

— Do not dump bait bucket or release live bait. Avoid introducing unwanted plants and animals. Unless bait was obtained on site, dispose of it in a suitable trash container or give it to another angler.

— Do not transport fish, other animals or plants between water bodies. Release caught fish, other animals and plants only into the waters from which they came.

For more information on zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species, visit the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/invasivespecies.