CLA Announces Weed Harvesting Plan

LAKEWOOD – Armed with more resources and help from private business, the Chautauqua Lake Association has big plans for the lake this year.

Monday night, the CLA held a meeting to announce its 2012 annual report. After an announcement that the CLA was able to raise – through individual and business contributions – more than $150,000 for the third year in a row, and the fourth in the last five, Doug Conroe, CLA president, spoke about how that money would be used.

“We’re going to do a lot this year,” said Conroe. “And it’s because of your membership and your support that we’re able to do these things.”

Conroe began by discussing some of the work that the CLA has already done on the lake this year. Earlier in the month, heavy storms over the course of a week caused a substantial amount of debris to enter the lake. The CLA warned boaters to be weary of debris when on the lake, then took to removing the debris.

“Not in our work plan was last month’s work,” said Conroe. “There was a barge on the lake in May because there was a need – there wasn’t a harvesting need, but it was a function that no other entity can provide for the lake.”

Paul Swanson, CLA general manager, explained the transition that needed to be made from weed harvesting to debris harvesting in early June.

“It started out this year like it was going to be a normal year, but we no more than started harvesting weeds this month when the rains came down, and we had to suspend harvesting operations for about 10 days,” said Swanson. “We removed several hundred tons of debris from the lake. Some of the trees we pulled out were 20-30 feet long, and 30-35 inches in diameter. We removed stumps that weighed over a ton. Since then, we’ve resumed harvesting weeds and you should see us out on the lake soon.”

Conroe complimented Greg Edwards, county executive, for quickly finding a location to deposit the debris pulled from the lake. Conroe then announced that the CLA has the resources to maintain three barges for harvesting this year, instead of the two it maintained last year.

“We’re going to have three crews on the lake, 10 hours a day, five days a week,” said Conroe. “Our experience has told us that that is where we can get the most gain for the least amount of money. Although it’s still a substantial amount – this is essentially going to be a $750,000 operation within a year.”

Conroe also announced that the lake will have a fourth harvesting crew, what he called the “pay-as-you-go” crew.

“That crew is going to be servicing the Chautauqua Institution area three days a week, and we’re actively soliciting other communities where we can use those kids for the other two days a week to help get those kids summer employment … I signed 32 paychecks today, and that’s pretty good,” Conroe said. “We didn’t expect to be able to have that many people, but we’re happy we do.”

Conroe said that, due to the nutrient content of the lake, there will never be a summer where harvesting is not needed. However, to have the resources the CLA has this year helps to ensure that lake weeds will be properly managed for the lake season.