CHAUTAUQUA - A section of Chautauqua Lake shoreline is being returned to the wildlife and plant life that originally inhabited it.
On Saturday, members and volunteers of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy gathered at Whitney Point to transform a former campsite into a wetland preserve.
The site upon which the efforts were focused is located in Chautauqua Lake's Whitney Bay, where the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy recently purchased a .7-acre plot of land containing more than 200 feet of shoreline and 300 feet of creek bank. The Whitney Point plot is located adjacent to the CWC's Prendergast Creek wetland preserve.
Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy members and volunteers set to work on dismantling a deck located on a former campsite in Chautauqua Lake’s Whitney Bay. Following the eradication of all man-made structures, the CWC will restore the property to a wetland preserve.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
According to John Jablonski, executive director of the CWC, the clearing away of existing man-made structures on the new site is the first step in the CWC's plan to expand its Prendergast Creek preserve into Whitney Point - increasing the CWC-owned property into a 7-acre wetland preserve.
"The main goal today is to remove the decking and sheds that were left on this property that had been used as a family summer camp for at least three decades," Jablonski said. "A member of that family contacted us last year to say that their cousin was going to put this property on the market, and they had decided to offer it to the Conservancy first. And, as it adjoins our 6-acre Prendergast Creek wetland preserve, we were very eager to acquire this property."
Jablonski said the CWC has had its collective eye set on Whitney Point since it had purchased the Prendergast Creek territory nearly 18 years ago.
He said the previous owners, other than constructing two sheds and a deck for their motorhome, had not done much to the property aside from mow the grass. As the land is set low to the shoreline, it is prone to flooding and is therefore well-suited to hosting flora and fauna indigenous to a wetland preserve.
"It's a valuable piece of property that will be turned back into a habitat, and we're very excited about that," Jablonski said.
The sole addition the CWC made to the property was in the installation a telephone pole that had been affixed with an osprey nest on the top. The pole will be set in place along the shoreline in the near future, and Jablonski said it should serve as a nice future home for ospreys, eagles and other types of waterfowl.
In conjunction the Whitney Point property, the CWC also recently procured an 11-acre parcel of forested land in Whitney Bay, located southwest of Whitney Point. Now known as the "Whitney Bay Lakeshore Forest Wetland Preserve," the property includes more than 300 feet of wild wetland shoreline, and 8 acres of frequently flooded lakefront wetland high in ecological value.
Jablonski said the CWC was able to purchase the two properties through a grant from the Lenna Foundation and the support of dozens of private donors.
"We had a campaign last year to raise money to purchase both of these sites, and we're grateful to the dozens of people that contributed to both of these properties," he said.
Jablonski said he anticipates the Whitney Point property will bear no resemblance to its former use as a campsite in as little as four to five yea