The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has focused much of its energy and resources on conserving waterfront property both on lakes and streams. From its inception to present, CWC has itself, or in partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, conserved two miles of waterfront forest and wetlands along Chautauqua Lake and its outlet. In 2011, the CWC established the Loomis Goose Creek Wetland Preserve, which conserved 450 feet of lakeshore on Chautauqua Lake and 3,000 feet in length of the west bank of Goose Creek. On Cassadaga Lakes, CWC conserved a 12.4-acre shrub and hardwood swamp in the shape of a peninsula separating Lower and Middle lakes, protecting 2,500 feet of lakeshore. This is over a mile of shoreline habitat conserved in just one year.
Why conserve these lands? These waterfront lands are vital habitats for a variety of species. This edge habitat, the interface between land and water, is rich in species diversity. It is waterfowl nesting habitat, the preferred habitat for fur-bearing mammals, and essential habitat for water-dependent turtles, amphibians and snakes. Natural habitat several hundred feet in width along waterways is essential for otters and several species of amphibians. Every acre of natural shore lands cleared on our lakes and streams means fewer frogs, turtles and shy wetland birds. Waterfront ''buffers'' of woody plants, trees and wildflowers also form a natural filter, trapping pollutants in surface water runoff and shallow groundwater. Maintaining and restoring these buffers and filter strips along streams has shown measurable improvements in the levels of nutrients in waterways at many locations across the country. Conserving and planting shrubs and trees with strong root systems helps reduce lakeshore and stream bank erosion, resulting in less lake sedimentation, cleaner water and lake bottom conditions less favorable to abundant nuisance plant growth. To learn more about the value of the water's edge, visit dnr.wi.gov/fish/pubs/thewatersedge.pdf.
In 2012, the CWC seeks to conserve the Wells Bay Lakeshore Forest site on Chautauqua Lake and reach agreements with other landowners to conserve wetlands on Big Inlet at Elm Flats, tributary forest land in the town of Chautauqua, lands adjacent to Chautauqua Creek in the town of Westfield, and additional wetlands parcels on Chautauqua Lake and Bear Lake. The conservancy assists conservation-minded landowners to voluntarily conserve important natural shore land, streamside, wetland and forest sites. At the same time, its conservationists, Jane Conroe and Deb Naybor, are available to assist owners of yards and grounds on how to replant and naturalize properties to restore their value for water collection and filtration, erosion control and functional wildlife habitat. They are available to help you with ideas on enhancing your lakeshore or watershed lands or exploring the conservation of your waterfront, streamside, wetland or tributary forest lands. Contact the CWC to arrange a consultation about your land or a presentation to your club or neighborhood group.
The Chautauqua lakeshore, conserved by CWC, is shown at Loomis Goose Creek Wetland Preserve.
Photo by John Jablonski III
Who is the CWC? We are more than 1,200 families, business owners and community groups that love our lakes, streams, trees, wildflowers, birds, fish, frogs, snakes and other wildlife of Chautauqua County. If you enjoy birds, hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, boating, sailing, canoeing or kayaking, or otherwise value the scenic beauty and nature of Chautauqua County, we hope that you will consider becoming part of the CWC team. It is the collective grassroots contributions of many that are enabling the conservancy to have a positive landscape-scale impact on the future health of our watersheds, waters, ecological communities, scenic vistas and communities. Stay up-to-date with CWC by liking us on Facebook and signing up for e-news alerts at www.chautauquawatershed.org.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit 501(c)(3), member-supported watershed education and land trust organization based in Jamestown. Join us for a tour of the CWC's Elm Flats Wetland Preserve this Saturday, Feb. 18, at 9:30 a.m. For more information, contact the CWC at 664-2166 or visit www.chautauquawatershed.org.