Posted by Chris Anderson on Oct 23, 2017
Pictured (L to R):  Jim Wehrfrtiz, Jennifer Gibson, and Dr. Tom Erlandson
 
Jennifer Gibson introduced Jim Wehrfritz – Vice President of Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Dr. Tom Erlandson –CLP Science Advisor, and Dr. Doug Neckers – CLP Science Advisor, Trustee.  
 
Dr. Neckers started off the discussion with a reference to the continued algae problems in the western end of Lake Erie and how Chautauqua Lake could use some of the ideas that are abating the algae in Lake Erie.  Dr. Neckers reminded the audience that this problem is serious business and we must find constructive solutions.  
 
Mr. Wehrfritz introduced himself and gave a quick overview of the Chautauqua Lake Partnership. CLP’s mission is about improving and maintaining water quality and the general enjoyment of the lake.  CLP was formed in 2002 and is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
 
At its true core, the Chautauqua Lake Partnership does not accept:
  • Lake decline is natural and expected
  • Lake is getting better and is the best its been in years
  • Shoreline property owners expect a swimming pool quality lake
  • Local governments can’t or won’t deal with lake issues
The Chautauqua Lake Partnership believes that current approaches are not sufficient enough and new approach must be enacted.  
 
Dr. Tom Erlandson was next to speak.  He explained that Chautauqua Lake is a 13,000-acre body of water that is 17 miles long with 42 miles of continuous shoreline. Chautauqua Lake is also comprised of the North and South basins.  The lake level is maintained by natural bedrock and a dam at outlet.  Chautauqua Lake flows north/west to south/east into the Chadakoin River and then to the Alleghany/Ohio river.
 
Mr. Wehrfritz then spoke again about the plan and Bemus Bay, in particular.  The 2017 plan involved using herbicides and shoreline clean-up.  The plan included a pre-treatment of weeds on 5/25/17, actual herbicide treatment on 6/26/17 and a treatment survey on 7/20/17 to gauge the effectiveness of the application.  According to Mr. Wehrfrtiz and others, the treatment survey concluded that Bemus Bay is in the best shape it has been in 10-15 years.  Evidenced by the fact there was no weed cutting needed in Bemus Bay for most of the summer, a reduction in near weeds, an increase in native weeds, and no weed-related boat problems.
 
The Chautauqua Lake Partnership 2018 Plan includes a much more robust budget than 2017 and CLP has an aggressive plan they want to execute.  
 
2018 Projects include:
 
Decree reversal – 1986 decree
Caused lake specific impacts.  CLP has indicated there is a need to perform a supplemental environmental impact study before using herbicides in 2018 and beyond.  
 
Supplemental EIS
 
The supplemental environmental impact study will be a $200,000 effort – to update the herbicide EIS for Chautauqua Lake.  This study is required by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for further herbicide application.  Work is beginning this week and will be a large effort in coming year.
 
Community Outreach
 
CLP wants to involve all property owners, businesses, towns and villages in the decision-making process.  It is important to gain shareholder feedback regarding the plans and activities with the support of their elected representatives in government.  First step in the process is a weed survey and is currently being done in certain towns and villages that have agreed to it.  In a weed survey, engineers survey the weeds to see what weeds are native and invasive and those are passed through the environmental review process.  
 
Bemus Bay Remediation
 
This involves coming up with a plan to reduce the proliferation of invasive curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian water milfoil weeds.  Invasive weeds are choking out native weeds and are smothering the lake bottom ecosystem.  This, in turn, leads to decaying vegetation which adds nutrients to water column.  CLP plans to develop a project to clear the weeds off the bottom of Bemus Bay in 2018.
 
Shoreline Cleanup
 
Optimization of shoreline cleanup, hydro rake redesign and MobiTrac tracked for efficiency and personal safety of all property owners and business on the shoreline.    
 
Weed cutting mitigation
 
According to CLP, there are negative impacts to weed cutting. Weed cutting is certainly still needed in select locations, but the negative impacts must be mitigated.  Weed cutting is not selective and about 10-15% of weeds harvested end up at the shoreline and create problems.  CLP believes that all harvested material in its entirety needs to be collected and removed from the lake.

How can the community help?
 
CLP encourages an open-minded dialog among different stakeholders to stem the lakes decline.  The community needs to be open to discussing and exploring all weed management alternatives.  CLP believes that we cannot let small groups of opponents stop us from moving this initiative forward.  It is important to understand the near and mid-term efforts as well as look at long-term (cost/benefit analysis).
 
CLP believes their 2018 Plan can succeed and move the health of Chautauqua Lake forward.  But, they cannot do it alone.  They will need support from municipalities and their leaders.  CLP needs to encourage the new County Executive and the legislature to make this a top priority.  CLP needs state and county funding and local foundations and individuals to supplement their efforts.
 
For more information, visit www.chqlake.org.  
 
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