Watershed Conservancy Proposes Cassadaga Nature Park

MAYVILLE — A local watershed group has proposed a 77-acre nature park near Cassadaga Lake.

The idea was recently presented to the Chautauqua County Legislature’s Planning and Economic Development committee by John Jablonski, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy executive director. He said the conservancy currently owns 1,039 acres across Chautauqua County. He said the conservancy has been working closely with the Cassadaga Lake Association for several years to attempt to conserve the important habitat around the Cassadaga Lakes.

Recently, the group was contacted by a landowner who would like to sell a parcel to the conservency that sits between Lili Dale and Camp Gross on Route 60. The area is located in the town of Pomfret.

Jablonski said the site has 26 acres of ecologically valuable lakefront wetlands and 1,100 feet of wetland shoreline.

“We are in the process of seeking grants from various sources and individuals,” he said.

The nature park would fit in well with the other attractions in the area. In turn, the wetlands filter water coming from Route 60 and up to 1,800 acres above.

“It’s the final water treatment property that the water comes through before it gets to the lake,” he said. “It’s a nice system with the water way and the pond.”

Due to the nature of the site, if it was developed, Jablonski said it could potentially double the amount of phosphorous going into the upper lake. There is a resolution of support that has been made by the Pomfret Town Board, from Lily Dale and Camp Gross, he said.

Jablonski said he came to the committee to seek help in gaining government, foundation, business and donor support for the project. Currently, there is a $150,000 campaign goal to acquire the property and establish the nature park. A grant of $30,000 from the Lenna Foundation and $5,000 from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation has been put up thus far.

Jablonski said the idea is to conserve the site and develop a four-season trail system for public use. There is also opportunity to view a variety of water-dependent species such as salamanders, frogs, snakes and birds.

Committee members said the legislature could consider issuing a letter or motion of support and could keep it in mind during budget season.

For more information on the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, visit www. chautauquawatershed.org.