Stewardship of our Chautauqua watershed is a big commitment. It takes long-term planning, extensive management, public involvement and education on the factors which impact the quality of water in and around the region.
Placing land in trust for conservation is one way in which we can create a safe haven for our most precious resource: water. Strategic planning for conservation requires that parks, working farms, forests and private properties create a community of protection for land, streams, ponds and lakes.
For more than 20 years, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has helped to create a land trust that protects property from development and overuse through a strategic conservation plan. The National Land Trust Census found that those organizations that have such a plan conserve twice as many acres of land and create three times as many conservation easements as those who do not. In the past year, CWC has created a comprehensive land map which allows us to catalog properties which are of particular importance to the watershed. It has also sent out letters targeting lakefront property owners and large property owners encouraging them to take action that will protect land from erosion and over use and create best practices in watershed stewardship. Those actions are starting to show results, with interest in creating new conservation easements, the creation of new buffer strips and rain gardens and increased plantings of native species.
Placing land in trust for conservation is one way in which we can create a safe haven for our most precious resource: water.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has worked to "inspire informed action," in the words of the Land Trust Alliance, by creating a positive vision for the future and establishing a framework that helps each property owner within our watershed to realize that they are a critical piece of the puzzle. It can be easy to want a quick fix when the algae blooms fill the lake or when a sudden downpour washes away a creek bank or shoreline. But natural systems are extremely complex, and reversing centuries of abuse can't happen overnight.
The health of our waters can be improved through careful planning and deliberate action, and we are seeing some of these changes make a positive improvement to the waters of the Chautauqua area. I'll admit that, at times, it feels like we are preaching to the choir about good land use practices, but when we see someone who hadn't really thought about the watershed before get excited about good conservation methods, it's downright uplifting.
For those of you who have composted your leaves rather than raking them into the lake, left your grass a bit higher to hold soil that may have washed away, or endured your neighbor's whispering about your natural, native garden which has replaced a manicured, fertilized lawn, you have contributed to the healing process. And CWC would like recognize your efforts through our Stewardship program.
You can contact our office at 664-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an application. Not sure what you can do to help preserve our watershed or how to start? Check our website at chautauquawatershed.org for more ideas on how to improve your property, or contact our staff for a free visit to your property for first-hand advice on how to become a part of the plan.
Even the small things like leaving native plants along the shore of a lake or stream, replacing chemical fertilizers with organic additives or planting more trees to secure the soil can make a big difference.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region.