With autumn here, I find myself doing an inventory of my ''summer must-do'' list. Sadly, this is when I realize I need a couple more months of nice weather! I only water-skied once. I didn't get to try paddle-boarding or take a sailing lesson. But the one thing that is causing me the most regrets is not boating up and down the lake.
Normally, I enjoy a lot of motoring on the waters of Chautauqua. By late spring, I would have visited Lakewood Beach, Rock Island, Colburns, Lakewood Bar and Sherman's Bay fishing with my husband. By the end of July, we would have fired up the big boat and taken excursions to Mayville or Long Point. I would have skied around Burtis Bay until my arms were ready to fall off, and we probably would have gone to Bemus Point a few times. But, none of that happened this year.
Besides the fishing and fun, Sam and I always knew what condition the lake was in. This year, I didn't have a clue as to what was going on with the lake except for the part of the lake in front of my house, which was in pretty good shape. I didn't know many sections had weed/algae problems until I read letters to the editor in the Post Journal. That was when I decided to load my kayak into my car and see for myself.
As this early-morning picture shows, Burtis Bay was blessed this summer with few nuisance weeds.
First, I launched at the public beach in Bemus. As I paddled around the point and under the docks at the Casino, I encountered mats of weeds, algae and floating debris. ''Yuck,'' I thought, ''this isn't good.'' The smell of rotting vegetation wasn't overwhelming, but I knew what it would have been like in the heat of summer. Interestingly, when I pulled up handfuls of weeds, I was surprised to find very little Eurasian watermilfoil. Most of the floaters were Elodea, naiad and grasses. The thing that bothered me the most was all the algae, some blue-green. From Bemus, I kayaked across to Stow.
Oh, poor Stow. For whatever reason, the mats of algae-covered weeds extended farther out from the shore and were much more extensive. Gobs of spit-pea soup material dripped off the ends of my paddles and covered me and my little boat. On this shore, I observed more milfoil but again the vegetation problems weren't what alarmed me, it was the overabundance of algae.
From Bemus, I drove to the Mayville public park. Mats of floating weeds could be seen just out from shore but the algae wasn't as bad. Again, I couldn't find much of Chautauqua Lake's nemesis, Eurasian watermilfoil, growing or floating - just elodea and grasses.
From Mayville, I drove to the Prendergast Point. I had kayaked here before, so I wasn't surprised to see vegetation and algae along the shore as I headed towards Prendergast Creek. The waterlilies are so thick that it is very difficult to maneuver, but there was little or no milfoil growing there either.
Heading home, I pondered over what I had seen. Over the last few years, milfoil had been the evil-deed doer in Burtis Bay. It created mats of surface vegetation that collected all the algae and debris that came down the lake. This year, there was very little milfoil and only some algae. Burtis Bay seems to have been blessed - our weed/algae problems were slight compared to other spots. Maybe it was the torrential rains in the spring that saved us. Maybe it was just our time to have a half-way decent summer. What ever the reason, it was okay with me and lets hope that next year, the whole lake can be blessed!
The CWC will hold a paddling tour at its new Cassadaga Lake Preserve on Saturday at 10 a.m. For more information or to register for this event, email email@example.com or call 664-2166. 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.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local, private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) whose mission is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. CWC addresses the root causes of poor water quality conditions in our lakes and watersheds. Its education, pollution prevention and watershed conservation work is funded primarily by membership donations. It has led efforts conserving 685 acres of important watershed lands over the last 20 years. To join or for more information, please call 664-2166.