CWC Expands Lakefront Preserve

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, with funds from its members and support of The Lenna Foundation, has purchased a 0.7-acre parcel at Whitney Point to expand its Prendergast Creek Wetland Preserve on Chautauqua Lake.

The entire site is located in the 100-year flood zone. The additional piece, which has over 200 feet of lakeshore and 300 feet of the bank bordering a former Prendergast Creek channel, had been mowed and maintained as a campsite with a travel trailer on it for several decades.

More than half of it was submerged with high waters last June, and dozens of spawning carp were visible wallowing in the shallow waters covering the mowed grounds. With the site submerged or saturated for several weeks last spring, native wetland vegetation quickly emerged in patches around much of the site. We were delighted to see shoots of sedges and other wetland species emerging, and it made us confident that, if CWC could acquire the site and stop mowing it, the site’s wetland plants could re-establish it as a valuable wetland wildlife habitat within a few years’ time.

The addition to CWC’s Prendergast Creek Wetland Preserve increases the lake frontage of this preserve to over 800 feet, with 2,200 feet of total waterfront length on the lake, Prendergast Creek and the old channel of the creek. The preserve now totals seven acres in size. CWC would like to acquire additional properties nearby to conserve as much of the wetland there as possible. The wetland stretches west toward State Route 394 from the shores of Chautauqua Lake south of Prendergast Creek. We are currently raising funds to conserve a 12-acre site with 400 feet of lakeshore at nearby Whitney Bay.

The emergent wetland and submergent plant communities in Chautauqua Lake adjacent to the Whitney Bay site are the most diverse and ecologically valuable in Chautauqua Lake, supporting abundant water-dependent animals and fish. Thirteen plant species of aquatic plants were documented in the lake near this preserve in a 2007 Racine-Johnson plant survey. (Six or more species at one location is considered to have high richness in species on Chautauqua Lake.) This area is likely the most important fish and wildlife nursery and feeding area on the entire lake. Last summer, visitors to the site experienced a rare sighting of a Great Egret, one of the many wonderful birds and waterfowl that frequent the habitat on and adjacent to this preserve.

With less than 10 percent of the Chautauqua Lake shoreline in a natural condition, donors and granters to the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy are ensuring that important habitat sites such as this at Prendergast Creek and Whitney Point are conserved to support abundant fish and wildlife populations in and around Chautauqua Lake.

We encourage the public to support these activities through the Conservancy’s Annual Membership Campaign, which is now underway. The success of this campaign will determine the level of conservation, technical assistance and education and pollution prevention activities the organization can undertake in 2014.

The mission of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. It works to address the root causes of lake plants and algae problems. The CWC is a county-wide private nonprofit organization, funded primarily by membership donations. To join for 2014 or make a Christmas gift in honor of a birder, fisherperson or outdoors enthusiast, go to our website at www.chautauquawatershed.org, send a check to CWC at 413 N. Main St., Jamestown 14701, or call 664-2166 weekdays.