County Legislators Join Search For Invasive Species

STOW – Poor weather and cooler temperatures kept most community members away from Saturday’s search for the invasive water chestnut in Chautauqua Lake – but not Chautauqua County legislators.

The search party convened at the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry landing in Stow at 8 a.m. Organized by Jeff Diers, Chautauqua County watershed coordinator, the party consisted of four area residents, including legislators Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, and Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown.

Diers distributed maps, portioning the entirety of Chautauqua Lake’s shoreline into 21 zones, as well as detailed pictures and drawings of the plant to the participants.

Horrigan said he would be searching zone 12, which covers the area from the tip of Bemus Point to Arnold Bay, while Cornell investigated Bemus Creek from the mouth to the bridge area. Neither location was reported to have any sign of the water chestnut.

“It’s hard to stop Mother Nature, but we’re going to try,” said Horrigan. “It’s one of those things where, if we’re able to get ahead of this and stay ahead of it and make everybody aware of this thing, I think we’re going to stand a much better chance of fighting this invasive species. A lot of it is (about) surveillance and awareness. If people can see it, we can get on it.”

Also in attendance was Ruth Lundin, Jamestown Audubon Society president. The Audubon will be hosting another “Big Pull” event at its Big Pond beginning at 8:30 a.m. this coming Saturday.

“To keep (the water chestnut) from getting out of hand is a much better idea than waiting until the cow gets out of the barn,” said Lundin.

As for the shortage of community response, Diers attributed it to the late-night thunderstorm that rolled through the area Friday evening and Saturday morning.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “When I heard the weather yesterday afternoon, that (the storm) was rolling in and it was going to be significant, I just had this feeling that turnout was going to be low. Last year, there was a lot of support for the south basin, around the Bemus area and up around Chautauqua Institution. A lot of folks that live right on the water are routinely out there anyway. Since they’re out there, they said they can spend some time (searching).”

Diers said he did receive calls from residents prior to the search saying they would be searching their respective zones on their own time throughout the week. According to Diers, only 17 water chestnut plants were found in last year’s search of Chautauqua Lake, which makes for good odds that it hasn’t spread.

“Last year, we published the zones with descriptions for anyone who is interested to go out into these areas on their own,” he said. “People who want the map can contact me, and I can send it to them.”

Additionally, he said there will likely be another attempt at holding a mass search later in the summer. For more information, contact Diers at 661-8915, or call the watershed hotline at 363-4499, 753-4499 or 661-7499.