Invasive Investigator Program

An image of a zebra mussel.

History:  Zebra mussels, an invasive species, have recently been found in the Housatonic River system, specifically in Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar.  It is important to curb the spread of these species because they are detrimental to the ecosystem and can adversely impact recreational activities.  The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) believes that public awareness and education are key tools to prevent the spread of all aquatic invasive species by recreational boaters and other users.

General Description:  The Volunteer Invasive Investigator Program is designed specifically to help educate people on ways to keep our waters clean and prevent the spread of aquatic hitchhikers into the lakes and rivers of Connecticut.  The Invasive Investigators will check for invasive species and collect information about where boats have been, if any invasive species were found, and what if any cleaning steps were done prior to launch.

How The Program Works

An image of a vessel that need cleaning.Training: Volunteers are required to attend an initial training of 2.5 hours and visit local boat launches.  DEEP Boating staff will familiarize you with the local invasive species, teach you how to conduct a voluntary inspection and provide instructions regarding data collection.  Annual refresher training will be approximately 1 hour.  The program is administered under the authority of the DEEP and training is held at local sites. Volunteers will be under the local supervision of the lake or pond organization with whom they register.

Monitoring: At the boat launch, we ask that you interact with boaters, familiarize them with invasive species present at the waterbody, distribute invasive species educational materials, conduct a voluntary inspection to see if there are any visible plant fragments or zebra mussels, and show the boater the steps needed to ensure they are not spreading unwanted plants and animals.  The Invasive Investigator will also conduct a voluntary survey to determine what, if any cleaning precautions were taken prior to launching, and return surveys and other information gathered to the DEEP-Boating Division on a weekly basis.

Hours: Scheduling will be done according to times you are available. While volunteers may schedule boat launch monitoring times at their convenience, we encourage participation particularly on weekends, since that’s when most people go boating.

For more information or to request a schedule of the next volunteer training workshop:

Please contact Gwendolynn Flynn of the DEEP Boating Division at 860-447-4339 or