Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment: S.H.A.R.E. That's the newest campaign by the Pollinator Partnership, a group devoted to preserving the variety of bees and other pollinators in North America. It is also a big part of what the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy does: simply preserve areas around the lake for the environment.
Wild lands are healing lands. As water trickles down the wild streams and through a wild swamp, it is cleaned of dirt, debris and even some pollution. This water enters the lake cleaner after being filtered through the wild lands. Cleaner water entering the lake means cleaner water in the lake, providing better homes for fish and other animals and less nutrients to feed the weeds.
Water does not trickle down a ditch. Instead, it races to the lake. The water picks up fertilizers from yards, soil and trash. It hits the lake at a run, dumping a chocolatey mass of brown water filled with soil and nutrients. The soil can clog the gills of animals and stimulate weeds to grow.
Preserving areas around the lake to share with both people and wildlife is a big part of the CWC’s mission.
Photo by Jeff Tome
These wild lands that clean and slow the water are important and vital to the long-term health of the lake. They are the arteries of the lake. If they clog with grit, soil and litter, then the lake suffers. When the lake suffers, so does everyone and everything that uses it.
Wild lands are also breeding lands. Fish, including some of the best sport fish in the lake, breed along some of the wildest areas of the lake. These areas, less disturbed by people and boats, can be breeding areas for Muskie and other game fish. Wild lands are important.
Of course, wild lands are healing for people too. Research shows that wild areas help people de-stress in ways that developed areas don't. The trails that meander on lands around the lake provide an escape, a place to decompress, a place to be utterly relaxed after being in the madhouse of everyday life.
For all these reasons, and more, I like the idea of S.H.A.R.E. Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment.
In recent years, people and organizations along the lake have been planting buffer zones. These narrow strips of land along the shoreline are planted with wildflowers, reeds and grasses. They help filter the water, anchor the shoreline from storms and provide some vital habitat for animals along the shore. They are an amazing example of how to have a small area reserved for the environment that can make a great difference to the animals that live in and around the lake. (They can look absolutely fantastic too).
All these things make for a healthier lake, a healthier watershed and a healthier, nicer place to live. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has been sharing the land they have preserved with both people and wildlife for years, as well as teaching and encouraging people to leave some areas for the environment, and I think the county is better off for it.
Jeff Tome is a senior naturalist for programs and exhibits at the Jamestown Audubon Society and a longtime CWC volunteer and supporter. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty, and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, visit www.chautauquawatershed.org or call 664-2166.