CWC Sets 2013-14 Conservation Projects

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has set its organizational objectives for 2013-14, which will focus on actions to address the root causes of the pollution, algae and plant problems in our Chautauqua lakes and streams. Excessive lake algae and plant growth is fueled by excessive storm water runoff, pollution and erosion from land uses in the watershed. Research shows that healthy, natural shorelines are essential for healthy lakes and that reducing nutrient and sediment loads to a lake can directly reduce the abundance of nuisance plant growth. In other words, if we want to reduce the lake’s excessive algae and plant growth, we must arrest the soil erosion and pollution at their sources. To do this, CWC’s objectives are the following:

1) Conserve the 11-acre Whitney Bay Wetland Forest Site, which has more than 300 feet of frontage on Chautauqua Lake. This site contains very important communities of red maple swamp and emergent aquatic plants that provide excellent bass fishing as well as habitat for amphibians, snakes, turtles, waterfowl and insects that eat invasive lake plants. Its floodplain also helps to absorb and store floodwaters, which minimizes the impacts on developed lakeshore properties.

2) Conserve and restore habitat on a former lakeshore campsite at Whitney Point adjacent to the CWC’s Prendergast Creek Wetland Preserve. This 0.7 acre parcel will add 500 feet of waterfront habitat to the preserve, helping to protect the most biologically diverse and valuable aquatic emergent plant and wetland fish and wildlife habitat on Chautauqua Lake.

3) Conserve 50 acres or more of the Elm Flats wetland and forest around Big Inlet (including healthy marsh and forest flood plain), adding acreage to the 113 acres already protected as part of CWC’s Elm Flats Wetland Preserve and helping to store and feed clean waters to Big Inlet.

4) Undertake face-to-face meetings with owners of Chautauqua Lake tributary lands to discuss opportunities for erosion control and watershed conservation. These efforts will focus on Goose, Dutch Hollow, Prendergast and Big Inlet creeks. CWC will cooperate with the Chautauqua County Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, County Soil & Water Conservation District and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to match these landowners with available conservation funding and technical assistance to complete conservation projects.

5) Implement volunteer youth and adult conservation planting projects on Clear Creek, Goose Creek and Prendergast Creek to enhance trout streams, reduce soil erosion and reduce sediments that fuel lake plant growth from reaching Chautauqua Lake. CWC will engage Trout Unlimited Western Southern Tier Chapter as a partner.

6) Provide targeted outreach and technical assistance to lakefront property owners to design and plant lakeshore buffers and rain gardens of native vegetation to control shoreline erosion, filter pollutants and provide habitat for birds, beneficial insects, fish and wildlife.

7) Complete conservation agreements on lakeshore, stream corridor, wetland and watershed forest properties important to lake and stream water quality and public drinking water supplies. CWC will partner with other organizations to conserve important sites on Chautauqua Creek, Bear Lake and Cassadaga Lakes.

8) Continue its Chautauqua Lake Curriculum Program to children in area elementary schools with educator and artist Renee Pye.

9) Undertake boundary surveys, place boundary signs, develop management plans and complete species inventories on CWC’s preserves. Nature trails and wildlife observation structures will be developed at the Loomis Goose Creek Wetland and Elm Flats Preserves.

10) Institute a volunteer preserve steward program for monitoring and maintaining our conservation lands and undertaking invasive species control.

If you would like to support these projects or donate to the Conservancy’s 2013 Spring-Summer Campaign, go to www.chautauquawatershed.org or call 664-2166. The CWC also invites you to join founding CWC director and JCC professor of biology Becky Nystrom for the CWC Spring Wildflower Tour on Saturday from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the new First Site of the Elm Flats Wetland Preserve. To register for the event, email info@chautauquawatershed.org or call 664-2166.