The Candlewood Lake Authority has announced that more than 20 signs warning boaters about the threat of zebra mussels, a prolific invasive species recently discovered in nearby Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar, have been installed at boat launch sites on Candlewood Lake.

All five municipal boat launches on the lake -- New Milford, Sherman, Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield -- and several of those at private communities, including the Holiday Point Association in Sherman, Holywyle Park Association and Candlewood Knolls in New Fairfield, and Candlewood Shores of Brookfield, now have the warning signs installed.

Signs are also being installed at the lake's commercial marinas and the two state boat launches at Lattins Cove and Squantz Pond.

"Candlewood Lake is an extremely popular destination and attracts boat owners from throughout western Connecticut and the tri-state region," said Larry Marsicano, executive director for the CLA.

"Many resident members of our communities also take their boats on vacations or day trips to waters known to contain zebra mussels," he said.

"These signs are our best way to reach boat owners who launch in and travel between waters that are infected with zebra mussels and Candlewood Lake and, as a result, are a likely source of zebra mussel transport and contamination."

The full-color, aluminum warning signs now installed at the five municipal boat ramps and elsewhere on the lake are highly detailed, and serve as a full-time source of essential public information.

The signs illustrate the danger zebra mussels pose to boat owners, swimmers and the health of Candlewood Lake; describe in detail how boat owners can `Clean, Drain and Dry' their boats, trailers and gear to help prevent contamination of Candlewood and other uninfected waters; and show the various life stages of zebra mussels to help boat owners understand the aquatic pest in its various forms.

Also listed on the signs are the nearby waters in Connecticut -- Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar on the Housatonic River, and the East and West Twin Lakes in Salisbury -- that are known to be infected with zebra mussels.

Other waters in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania contaminated by zebra mussels are also listed.

Similar signs are also being created for the state boat launches at nearby Lakes Lillinonah and Zoar and will be installed there shortly.

"All boaters who recreate on Candlewood Lake, including those who use kayaks, canoes and personal watercraft, have a responsibility to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and all invasive species that threaten the health and welfare of Candlewood Lake and nearby waters," said Phyllis Schaer, chair of a CLA-organized regional Zebra Mussel Task Force.

"This goes for anglers, swimmers and all occasional users of the lake."

The CLA is making similar but smaller warning signs available at no cost to all private communities and others on Candlewood Lake with boat launches.

Anyone wishing to obtain a 12x18-inch zebra mussel alert sign should contact Mark Howarth at the CLA at 860-354-6928.