The Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Commission, with its 10 partner organizations, published the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management plan in September 2010. Much activity has taken place since then to implement the recommendations of the plan for management actions for the lake and its watershed. At present, the county has engaged firms to undertake a Chautauqua Lake dredging feasibility study and Goose Creek and Dutch Hollow Creek restoration projects to determine methods and locations for creek enhancements to control erosion in these two creeks. A submerged aquatic vegetation management plan is also being developed to evaluate all feasible tools for future use in plant management in Chautauqua Lake.
As called for in the plan, the county and local governments around the lake have formed an inter-municipal compact to jointly address lake and watershed issues. At present, the Chautauqua Lake Inter-Municipal Committee is working on drafting model erosion control code language for each participating lake watershed community to adopt. Donald Emhardt, Chautauqua town supervisor, is serving as the chairman of this effort. The town and village supervisors and mayors are to be commended for their commitment to this process. Also, storm water treatment devices have been installed as pilot projects in Mayville and Stow to keep pollutants from reaching the lake.
Watershed municipal highway departments and the county Department of Public Facilities are also to be commended for making progress implementing improved management practices on their highway and storm water construction and maintenance activities. Hydro-seeding excavation sites to effectively control erosion is becoming the norm across the watershed. Rock check dams on steep road ditches are also coming into common use. The Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District has been providing multiple training programs, technical assistance and hydro-seeding services on many municipal projects. In addition, the district continues to co-sponsor erosion control training for excavation contractors working in our region.
Lakeshore buffers are an example of a management practice important to lake health.
Photo by Jan Bowman
For agricultural conservation efforts, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District have recently secured more than $800,000 in federal and state grants to assist watershed farmers with implementing manure management, barnyard runoff and stream stabilization projects.
For watershed conservation, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has conserved 650 feet of lakeshore, including 30 acres of wetlands on Chautauqua Lake at the mouth of Goose Creek and 3.5 acres of moist forest and wetlands at Wells Bay over the past year. CWC also conserved 4.5 acres of wetlands just upstream from the lake north of Fluvanna. These sites are important to storing, filtering and delivering clean waters to Chautauqua Lake. The CWC secured grants from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Chautauqua County to undertake watershed education and conservation activities in the Chautauqua watershed. The CWC has developed a "watershed care" collection of watershed stewardship information at its website at www.chautauquawatershed.org, has published and assisted the county with distributing Chautauqua Lake Management Plan fact sheets and lake homeowners and visitors manuals to thousands of area residents and visitors. CWC is working directly with lakeshore property owners and neighborhood associations to undertake lakeshore conservation plantings to reduce erosion, filter pollutants and provide habitat for insects which eat lake plants. CWC is sending correspondence to the owners of larger watershed acreages and seeking to meet with them regarding the management of their forests, fields, streams and wetlands, and opportunities available for erosion control, watershed enhancement and permanent conservation.
The Chautauqua Lake Association is undertaking aquatic plant harvesting, shoreline cleanup and debris removal activities this summer. Cummins Engine is donating hundreds of hours of its employees' time this summer to help the CLA meet its labor needs. New York state and Chautauqua County are also partnering with the CLA to provide Welfare-to-Work labor, also to augment CLA's labor force. The Jamestown Rotary Club is organizing the Adopt-A-Shoreline event to engage volunteers around the lake to help clean up dead plants and other shore debris on Aug. 4 to assist CLA in these maintenance efforts.
Each organization is actively seeking the funds to implement expanded efforts to effectively do their part to address Chautauqua Lake's watershed issues that lead to abundant plant and algae growth in the lake. Please contact the respective organizations to learn how you can support their efforts.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local, nonprofit tax exempt 501(c)3 organization with a mission preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. It is partnering with the Chautauqua Bird, Tree and Garden Club to host a series of lake walks Monday evenings through Aug. 20th, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Heinz Beach at Chautauqua Institution.