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Boat fee approved by lawmakers to combat invasive aquatic species

A bill requiring boaters to pay a new fee to help cover the cost of combating invasive aquatic plants is moving to the governor's desk.

The Senate voted 34-2 in favor of a bill that imposes a $5 fee for Connecticut residents and a $20 fee for out-of-state individuals who register vessels intended to operate on state waters.  Danbury state Representative Ken Gucker says some of the funding could be used for education to alert boaters about the law.

He says Candlewood Lake is the number 4 bass tournament destination in the country.  Participants support the bill because they know how important the environment is to keeping their hobby alive.  Gucker says they don't mind putting a little more in to make sure the resources they use every weekend is safe, clean and preserved.

Gucker says this is not a measure specific to western Connecticut, though it would protect water quality in Lakes Zoar, Lillinonah and Candlewood.

The General Assembly's Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the fee will generate approximately $400,000, to be used by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for various invasive species programs, including grants for research on managing state lakes, rivers and ponds.

A one-time $50,000 cost would establish the program. 

Proponents of the bill say various lakes around the state are experiencing pervasive and invasive aquatic species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms, a problem that can be expensive to address. 

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Markley van Camp Robbins

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