The Time Is Now For Herbicides At Bemus Bay

It does not appear a quick approval is in the offing for the Chautauqua Lake Partnership’s plan to use herbicides in the bay this summer given opposition from two existing organizations.

That’s too bad, because time is ticking away on this summer season for homeowners and businesses in Bemus Bay who are looking for relief from weeds that are choking off access to Chautauqua Lake.

Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy members have sent a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation raising concerns that the Chautauqua Lake Partnership application does not include an environmental impact statement, that it does not show the treatment will achieve the outcome stated by the CLP and that the application does not demonstrate the need to use herbicides in 2017 based on plant cover and the percentage of non-invasive species. The Chautauqua Lake Association, meanwhile, stated its opposition to the herbicide in April. Its reasoning included an analysis that nuisance plant density could be managed by harvesting, that plant colonies had to be maintained to support the fishery and aviary, that native mussel populations needed to be preserved, that there could be additional algae blooms, that recreational use of the lake could be impaired, that drinking water could be impaired and that herbicide spread and downstream impacts can’t be ascertained without site specific water flow data and that properly funded harvesting can meet the lake’s plant control need.

Both organizations have valid concerns, but it is hard to shake images provided by homeowners in Bemus Bay of boats and jet skis tied to docks, surrounded by weeds, or the complaints of businesses who are used to boaters frequenting their business suffering from a lack of business. It is also hard to shake the scores of people who have written to the Chautauqua Lake Partnership in regard to Bemus Bay’s weed problem in part years. The problem is not some theoretical discussion on a chalkboard for them. Bemus Bay residents and businesses see and smell this problem every day. Their pleas have been heard by their elected officials; the village of Bemus Point and town of Ellery have signed on to sponsor the application to use herbicide in Bemus Bay. That application is pending in the offices of the state DEC, so the town and village have requested emergency authorization of the DEC permit.

Time is ticking. Use of herbicides is included in the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy as a tool that can be used on Chautauqua Lake. What good is a tool if it is never taken out of the box? It’s time to try herbicide in Bemus Bay.