Chautauqua Lake Association Mid-Summer Status Report

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Overall, Lake is Open for Recreation, but a Few Difficult Areas Remain that Need Work

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Chautauqua Lake Association

The mid-summer status of Chautauqua Lake is generally good, benefitting boating, swimming and fishing through mid-July in most areas, according to observations by the Chautauqua Lake Association.

Teams generally found good water clarity and reduced aquatic plants lake wide. For more specifics, see Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists Spring 2019 plant survey report on the CLA website.

In the North Basin, where herbicide was not applied, as of July 12, CLA crews removed 227 tons of nuisance vegetation in 2019, compared to 310 tons in 2018 – a 27% decrease.

From late May to early June, CLA crews removed 22 truckloads
of hazardous woody debris in 2019, compared to 49 truckloads in 2018,
suggesting that the watershed streambank improvements are showing favorable results.

However, as the weather warms to mid-summer highs, algal blooms become a greater risk, and there is evidence that blooms may be forming.

“Monitoring for harmful algal blooms started earlier this
month because of concerns that very small localized shoreline areas can sprout blooms, given current weather patterns,” said CLA Executive Director Douglas Conroe. “Anyone observing possible blooms should notify the CLA office of the locations so that they can be investigated further and reported to the state if appropriate.”

Meanwhile, CLA watercraft stewards have been active on
weekends since mid-May interacting with boaters at Chautauqua Lake launch ramps, in addition to ramps at Dunkirk Harbor and on Cassadaga Lake. No new invasive species have been observed, as vessels have departed or entered Chautauqua Lake. Stewards also educate boaters about how to take precautions to prevent the movement of invasive species between waterways.

The sunny, hot weather combined with good water clarity caused nuisance-plant conditions to develop in the Mayville and Dewittville areas. The CLA dispatched all of its harvesters to Mayville to keep navigation channels open. Strong growth conditions also exist in the Whitney Bay fishery habitat area – an area in which the CLA performs limited harvesting due to its habitat importance.

The CLA’s 26 on-lake employees are operating four harvesters, two transport vessels, two skimmers, four barges and three dump trucks performing lake maintenance this summer. The organization is working with a reduced budget this year. The annual fund drive continues, however, in order to generate revenue needed to continue to provide late-summer services. Donate at www.chautauqualakeassociation.org

In May, the CLA board of directors voted unanimously to concentrate its harvesting and lake stewardship this summer in the North Basin because funding shortfalls from New York State and local municipalities meant the CLA can only hire 27 workers instead of 42 like in 2018.

The CLA’s operating budget for 2019 is $640,000, down from $730,000 last summer. New York, which contributed $150,000 last year, along with the Villages of Bemus Point and Celoron and the Towns of Chautauqua and Ellery contributed no funding for this summer.

Also, with state Department of Environmental Conservation approval, 388 acres in the South Basin were recently treated with short- and long-term chemical herbicides. Proponents argue that with use of these chemicals, harvesting is not needed. The CLA also did not want to affect evaluations of the herbicide program’s impacts. Therefore, the CLA is limiting its South Basin work to shoreline clean up, according to a board announcement.