Waterways Plan Would Assist Chautauqua

MAYVILLE – A plan by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer to create a rapid response grant program for area waterways is receiving unanimous support by Chautauqua County officials.

The Democratic senator recently outlined legislation for a first-ever early detection program to combat aquatic invasive species in new areas. Plants and animals targeted include: Eurasian milfoil, Asian clam and Hydrilla, all of which have damaged waterways in the state, Schumer said.

Immediate financial support would be petitioned through the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“Currently, there are only rapid response resources for agricultural invasive species, not those that attack waterways, and we need to change that ASAP,” Schumer said.

County Executive Greg Edwards is on board with the legislation. Edwards noted volunteers last summer came together to identify 12 water chestnut plants. The invasive species has become common in the northeast.

“This plan will open up funding that will allow us to implement a solution,” Edwards said. “Last year we were able to do it on our own time with a massive volunteer effort.”

Schumer, in particular, noted Chautauqua Lake’s battle with Eurasian milfoil. The senator said he supported the county’s pursuit of $120,000 in grant funding and urged cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, said the rapid response legislation will complement an emergency response action plan currently being drafted within the county.

“This legislation will allow us to seek funding when we come across a new species,” Diers said. “As soon as we find one, we will have a series of steps that will kick in, including this grant funding.”

Diers noted an educational packet is being designed that will inform residents and businesses along Chautauqua Lake on current invasive species and new ones that could inhabit the area.

Edwards, meanwhile, said he was pleased to see Schumer note that eradicating invasive species has become a statewide initiative.

“This identifies that we are not alone,” he said. “This is something that is happening across the state, and that’s bringing focus to Chautauqua Lake and making it more global.”