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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chautauqua Lake Association Discusses Lake’s Ecosystem

By Nicholas L. Dean,
BEMUS POINT - Chautauqua Lake is healthier than it has been in years past, but it isn't out of the proverbial weeds yet.
The Chautauqua Lake Association sponsored the second of two symposiums addressing the area's aquatic plants and insects Tuesday at the Village Casino in Bemus Point.
Led by Robert L. Johnson, manager of Cornell University's Research Pond Facility, Tuesday's event and a similar presentation Monday in Mayville were sequels of sorts to similar public meetings held last year by the CLA. According to Johnson, last year's symposiums were so well-received, the CLA decided to sponsor the events again this year - reiterating important information and updating the presentations with what has since been learned from ongoing lake research.
"Quite a few people were asking some tough questions," Johnson said Tuesday of Monday night's workshop. "They were asking when we're going to solve Chautauqua Lake's problem and put the lake back in balance. I told them you actually have a group here that's working very hard on that, working on a lake management plan."
The CLA is an organization which works to maintain the health and beauty of Chautauqua Lake, promoting an environmentally friendly approach to controlling nuisance vegetation like Eurasian milfoil.
According to Johnson, Chautauqua Lake is experiencing a drastic reduction in weed growth this year. Many areas, such as Burtis Bay, are virtually weed free. Discussing the lake's different aquatic vegetation and the area's aquatic insect populations with the dozen people in attendance Tuesday, Johnson explained what has contributed to creating the lake's present situation and what can be done to continue it.
According to Johnson, Cornell and the CLA are researching insects this summer and informing owners of lakeshore properties about the importance of buffers. One thing which the CLA has been emphasizing for years is the importance of shoreline habitat and how what ends up in the watershed ends up in the lake.
"Our work this summer is mainly looking more in depth at some of the insects and trying to understand the life cycles of some of the new ones that are becoming big players," Johnson said. "We've been out looking for insects since spring. The Caddis fly was a big player in Burtis Bay and we're going around the lake and trying to find out where this insect is and in what densities. Obviously, there are a lot in undeveloped areas, where there's lots of woody trees. There are a few places on the lake where they're in extremely high density."
Johnson's discussion also touched on the difference between "good" and "bad" weeds and what benefits and threats they pose to the natural health of the lake.
"It's important for the lake's stakeholders to understand that certain weeds in the lake provide benefit to Chautauqua Lake's ecosystem," Johnson said. "Not all weeds are bad, and many provide food and shelter for the many animal inhabitants who call Chautauqua Lake home."
For more information, contact the Chautauqua Lake Association by calling 763-8602.
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