By Remington Whitcomb
Boaters and lake-goers who are looking forward to enjoying Memorial Day on Burtis Bay might have to deal with an overgrowth of aquatic vegetation.
Due to the unseasonably warm weather the northeast experienced this past winter, annual vegetation has come into full bloom much sooner than usual, and this includes lake vegetation.
According to Jeff Diers, Chautauqua Lake watershed coordinator, Burtis Bay is currently experiencing a vigorous growth of curly-leaf pondweed.
"It's a typical submerged aquatic vegetation that grows early in the growing season but dies off around July in a normal year," said Diers. "However, everything seems to be growing about a month ahead of schedule this year. Although this plant is a nuisance now, we expect it should die off around (June)."
Diers went on to say that curly-leaf pondweed could actually help to improve the overall level of submerged aquatic vegetation later in the year.
"There is an aquatic herbivore (called the caddis-fly) that uses the (curly-leaf pondweed) in breeding," said Diers. "The caddis-fly lays its eggs on the top of the flowering part of this plant. According to Bob Johnson (lake researcher), the large density of curly-leaf pondweed will have a significant impact on the population of caddis-fly in the future."
And while more unwanted lake vegetation and more lake insects doesn't sound like something to be desired, Diers explained why a higher population of caddis-fly could help boaters and lake residents.
"Caddis-flies particularly like to consume eurasian milfoil, which typically has been a plant of great concern in Chautauqua Lake."
Eurasian milfoil is the plant that most people are referring to when they speak of seaweed in the lake. It has been a nuisance plant for the lake for quite some time.
Though Chautauqua Lake is experiencing its fair share of problems with submerged aquatic vegetation, Diers reassured that our lake is not the only lake with such problems.
"Every lake in the northeast, or at least in the state has experienced the same boom in curly-leaf pondweed," said Diers. "It's not atypical for Chautauqua Lake, everyone is sharing this problem. It may be a nuisance, but we should look at it as a positives that this plant will allow for a bio-control such as the caddis-fly to populate in large numbers. This plant does not stay throughout the summer and hopefully it will be a reasonable year for the rest of the year."
Diers added that Burtis Bay usually carries the brunt of the submerged aquatic vegetation in the lake, simply because it is one of the shallowest parts of the lake and it is towards the outlet for the lake.