BOCES students had a hands-on Arbor Day opportunity at Allen Peterson's farm on Strunk Road.
On Friday, conservation and natural resources students planted 1,800 trees spanning 4 acres in an effort to improve the quality of a stream on the property, which flows into the Chadakoin River and further into Chautauqua Lake.
"People don't realize how much we are actually contributing to the lake's improvement," said David Spann, district field manager for the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District. "You must start at higher ground, at the source of where the nutrients flow into the lake."
BOCES students Benjamin Dickerson, left, Thomas Hamilton, center, and Dylan Higbee helped plant 1,800 trees at Allen Peterson’s farm on Strunk Road on Friday. Trees were planted in an effort to prevent nutrient loads from flowing into a stream on the property, which further empties into the Chadakoin River.
P-J photos by Katie Atkins
Spann and Dave Wilson, former soil and water manager, have secured more than $4 million in state funding over the last five years in an effort to improve the quality of Chautauqua County's watershed.
Wilson said that agricultural runoff is sometimes not considered when it comes to the lake's pollutants.
Although a variety of sources of phosphorus contribute to the lake's poor water quality, it is primarily influenced by runoff events from the drainage basin.
As rainfall or snowmelt moves over and through the ground, the runoff picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers and wetlands.
Peterson's farm is home to almost 70 cows, whose manure has been carried by the stream and eventually into Chautauqua Lake.
With a combination of state funds and contributions from Peterson, the cattle were fenced further away from the stream.
Furthermore, the trees, which included eight different species, will help shade the creek and block further sources of phosphorus and nitrogen into the Chadakoin River.
"I thought, if we're going to plant trees, let's really go after it. Go big or go home." Wilson said.
"The thing I think is important to stress is that this is a collaborative effort, especially at the request of the County Legislature and county executive in reducing the Total Maximum Daily Load process in Chautauqua Lake," Spann said.
TMDLs determine the maximum amount of pollutant that a water body is capable of assimilating while continuing to meet the existing water quality standards.
"In the sense of government, this is really pinching pennies," Spann said of the students' work. "The cost to hire this out to a contractor would have been triple of what it did cost us."
Jeff Angeletti, BOCES conservation and natural resources instructor, said it was a hands-on opportunity for the students.
"This fits right into our curriculum," he said. "It was fitting to do this on Arbor Day."
Partners involved with the project included the Natural Resources Conservation Service National Water Quality Initiative; the New York State Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Grant Program, administered by the Soil and Water Conservation District; the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency; and the Department of Environmental Conservation.