Danbury Lakes Including Candlewood, Kenosia and Zoar Awarded Grants for Invasive Species Control

DEEP Announces Recipients of Inaugural Round of Grants for Aquatic Invasive Species Control on Lakes, Ponds and Rivers

$360,000 Awarded to 21 Projects that Will Help Restore CT Waterbodies

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced the recipients of the inaugural round of grant funding through the Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program, with a total of $360,000 going to 21 projects to reduce impacts of aquatic invasive species on inland waters in Connecticut.  

The Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program was made possible in 2019 when the Connecticut General Assembly established an Aquatic Invasive Species Stamp fee (Public Act 19-190) applied to all registered boats using Connecticut waters, to provide a dedicated funding source for the “Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation Account." This account funds programs to protect the state’s lakes, ponds and rivers by addressing aquatic invasive species and cyanobacteria blooms.

Aquatic invasive species, such as Zebra mussels and Hydrilla, are a serious threat to our ecosystems. They negatively impact native plants and animals, they are extremely costly to control, and the dense mats formed by invasive plants make boating, fishing, and swimming difficult. This has a direct impact on both the quality of outdoor recreation in Connecticut, and the state’s outdoor recreation economy, of which boating and fishing are the largest contributors.

“Thank you to all who applied, and congratulations to our inaugural round of recipients,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Mason Trumble said. “Aquatic invasive species are not just a serious threat to our ecosystems – they are a direct attack on Connecticut’s outdoor recreation economy. These species are costly to counteract, but these grants will better enable our recipients to do the critical work of controlling and researching aquatic invasives, which will preserve the quality of our ecosystems and outdoor recreation here in Connecticut.”

For this first round of funding, DEEP had a total of $360,000 to award for eligible control, research and education and outreach projects.The maximum grant award was $50,000. Requests for larger grants (up to $75,000) were considered, but only for exceptional and well-justified proposals. Matching funds were required and had to equal or exceed 25% of the total amount of funding received from DEEP under this grant program.  

Municipalities, state agencies (including state colleges and universities), and not-for-profit organizations were eligible to receive grants through this program. Eligible project proposals included conducting a project to restore an inland water body of the state through the control and management of a population of aquatic invasive species; research projects to enhance understanding and knowledge of aquatic invasive species and/or cyanobacteria blooms (must have direct practical applicability to lakes, ponds and rivers in Connecticut); and education and outreach projects intended to enhance public awareness of aquatic invasive species and/or harmful algal blooms in Connecticut and/or promote good practices to prevent the further spread of aquatic invasive species in Connecticut’s lakes, ponds and rivers. For control and management projects, the target species must have existed in the project water body as of September 1, 2020. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority, one of the grant recipients, will receive more than $26,000 to put toward a new Lake Steward Program.

“The Candlewood Lake Authority is very excited to announce our new Lake Steward Program offering voluntary invasive species boat inspections to boaters launching on Candlewood Lake,” said J. Neil Stalter, Director of Ecology and Environmental Education for the Candlewood Lake Authority. “CLA Lake Stewards will be posted at some of the public launches around Candlewood Lake on peak boating days during the summer of 2021, offering invasive species education, a few informative keepsakes, and inspections to help demonstrate to users how to look for invasive species on their own! We want to thank the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection whose new grant program for invasive species control is making this new program possible. If you’re launching your boat on Candlewood Lake this summer, keep your eyes peeled for new smiling faces at the launch offering critical invasive species information!”

The Connecticut River Conservancy is the recipient of grants for multiple projects on the Connecticut River.

“The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) is working in partnership with numerous organizations and individuals to monitor and curb the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) within the Connecticut River valley,” CRC River Steward Kelsey Wentling said. “AIS in the Connecticut River and its tributaries can easily outcompete native plants, disrupt habitat for migratory species, limit light penetration and decrease water quality all while reducing access to rivers by preventing boaters, anglers and recreationists from getting to the water. With support from the CT DEEP AIS funding, CRC will continue to coordinate a watershed-wide water chestnut (trapa natans) monitoring and removal program intended to track water chestnut infestations, collect relevant data to observe trends over time, and work with volunteers to hand harvest water chestnut. This year, CRC will also be piloting two projects to understand management options for invasive hydrilla (hydrilla verticillate), which has quickly overwhelmed and blocked off coves, tributaries and boat slips along the Connecticut River. These pilot projects will inform future management decisions and serve as a learning opportunity for stakeholders along the river. Finally, CRC is working with stakeholders to develop an outreach and education plan to generate awareness of the threat of aquatic invasive species as well as actions the public can take to reduce these harms.”

The journey to this day started when the Connecticut Federation of Lakes initiated and led the effort to pass Public Act 19-190 with critical support from The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Audubon, and Save the Sound, and the Connecticut River Conservancy.

“PA 19-190 is an important advancement for the Connecticut lake and river communities in that it provided a needed sustainable funding source to address two of our most significant management issues: freshwater invasive species and harmful algal blooms,” said Constance Trolle and Larry Marsicano, President and Vice President, of the Connecticut Federation of Lakes. “The Connecticut Federation of Lakes is grateful to all those who contributed to the passing of the legislations, particularly those key legislators who worked overtime on it.  We are also grateful to those who put the work in reviewing the many great grant applications that were submitted in this funding round.  We also look forward to working with the Commissioner on other initiatives to protect and restore our inland water resources.”

DEEP received a total of 46 project applications requesting funding. Of those, 21 projects were selected for funding based on our criteria. The projects receiving funding this round are:

Organization

Project Location

Project Type/Description

Funding Awarded

Amos Lake Association, Inc.

Amos Lake, Preston, CT

Control/Management: Control of Variable Water Milfoil and Lake Management Plan for Amos Lake

$21,504

Ball Pond Advisory Committee

Ball Pond, New Fairfield, CT

Research: Identification and Monitoring of Cyanobacteria in Ball Pond, Using Plankton Tows and Fluorometry

$2,960.11

Bantam Lake Protective Association

Bantam Lake

Bantam Lake sediment analysis in anoxic hypolimnion controlling cyanobacteria blooms due to phosphorus loading during lake stratification

$10,367.14

Candlewood Lake Authority

Candlewood Lake

Education/Outreach: Candlewood Lake Watershed Steward Program to Educate Boaters on Aquatic Invasives Threating Candlewood Lake

$26,711

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

various

Research: Support for the CAES Invasive Aquatic Plant Program

$30,000

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

n/a - educational material

Education/Outreach: Connecticut's Invasive Aquatic Plant, Clam, and Mussel Identification Guide, 4th Edition

$6,000

Connecticut River Conservancy

Connecticut River

Research: Piloting Management of Hydrilla and creating a Hydrilla Management Plan for the CT River watershed

$28,710

Connecticut River Conservancy

Connecticut River

Control/Management: Coordinate hand removal of water chestnut, trapa natans, in the Connecticut River Watershed

$16,795

Edwin M. Wong, Ph.D., Western Connecticut State University

Beseck Lake, Candlewood Lake, Lake Zoar

Research: Identifying and Quantifying Toxin Genes from Cyanobacteria in CT Waterways

$3,225

Farmington River Watershed Association

Rainbow Reservoir

Research: Investigating cyanobacteria blooms in Rainbow Reservoir (Farmington River) to discover causes and evaluate potential remedies

$46,130

Friends of the Lake

Housatonic River Cove and Mouth of Still River, New Milford, CT

Control/Management: Manual Removal of Tapa Natans, Water Chestnut, from a Housatonic River Cove and the Mouth of the Still River

$4,629

Friends of West Side Pond

West Side Pond

Control/Management: Control of Variable Water Milfoil at West Side Pond

$11,000

Housatonic Valley Association

Lake Kenosia, Danbury, CT

Control/Management: Removal of water chestnut from Lake Kenosia

$25,500

Southbury Training Schools

Lake Stibbs, Southbury, CT

Control/Management: Eradication of Water Chestnut in Lake Stibbs

$4,000

Town of Bolton, Town of Vernon, Friends of Bolton Lakes

Middle and Lower Bolton Lakes

Control/Management: Aquatic Invasive Plant Management in the Bolton Lakes

$24,910.50

Town of Coventry

Coventry Lake

Control/Management: Hydrilla Treatment and Tuber Density Monitoring Research Program for Coventry Lake

$50,000

Town of Guilford

Lake Quonnipaug, Guilford, CT

Control/Management: Invasive aquatic plant surveys and management in Lake Quonnipaug

$13,986.50

Town of Mansfield & Coventry CT

Eagleville Lake, Mansfield and Coventry, CT

Research: Developing a Long-Term Strategy and Educational Campaign for Fanwort Management in Eagleville Lake

$6,940

Town of Middlefield

Beseck Lake

Education/Outreach: Boater Education & Vessel Inspections for AIS at the State Boat Ramp on Beseck Lake

$4,695

Town of Salisbury

East Twin Lake and West Twin Lake, Salisbury, CT

Research: Twin Lakes Rare Plant Study

$7,875

Town of Vernon

Tankerhoosen, Dobsonville, Talcottville, Valley falls, Walker Reservoir East, Papermill Ponds

Control/Management: Vernon Ponds Aquatic Plant Management and Outreach

$14,061.75

DEEP is committed to reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species in Connecticut. In addition to the Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program, DEEP’s Fisheries Division has hired two Environmental Protection Seasonal Resource Assistants to serve as Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Stewards on the Connecticut River. In recent years, hydrilla and other AIS have become increasingly abundant within the Connecticut River.  If left unchecked, AIS have the potential to displace native species as well as impact habitat quality, navigation, recreational opportunities, and property values.  AIS Stewards will play a critical role in increasing public awareness about and preventing the spread of these species both within the Connecticut River and to other waters through education and outreach.  Their duties will include interacting with and educating boaters at boat launches along the Connecticut River about aquatic invasive species and clean boating practices; performing voluntary inspections of boats and trailers as they enter and exit boat launch areas to check for and remove aquatic invasive plants and animals; and assisting with public outreach events.

Additionally, DEEP is seeking to combine remaining funding generated from the Aquatic Invasive Species Stamp with federal funding to hire an Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, a contracted position that will work with AIS Grant Program grantees and other organizations working on the AIS issue in Connecticut.

Go here for more information on aquatic invasive species in Connecticut.