‘Walk The Walk’

A Challenge Given To Volunteers

A sampling of some of the recyclable metal pulled from the Chautauqua Lake outlet by volunteers from the Conewango Creek Watershed Association. Photo by the Conewango Creek Watershed Association

Everyone loves a good neighbor, especially one that comes to your house to clean.

Chautauqua Lake has a good neighbor — the Conewango Creek Watershed Association. For the last four years, they have come to help clean up the outlet of Chautauqua Lake, and they are set to do it for a fifth time on Saturday, May 18.

I have worked alongside them for two of the four years and plan on doing it again this year. Somehow, I missed the first and last years but not out of apathy. I feel strongly about supporting this amazing group of volunteers and their mission. Since 2015 when the event began, 114 volunteers have removed 275 tires, 3,340 pounds of recyclable metal and 57 cubic yards of trash from the lake’s outlet.

Stop for a minute and think about what I am saying. Here we have dedicated, hardworking people, most likely from the Warren area, who probably do not live, work or have a stake in what goes on in Chautauqua Lake. Yet, they give up their time and energy to come here to clean up the mess in our lake. Why? Because, as I was told, “This is what we do.”

I don’t know about you, but this warms my heart and generates tons of respect for these individuals. And, it makes me feel like I should be out there with them because what happens in our lake does impact me. I live, work and have a huge stake in what goes on here. We all “Talk the Talk” about how the lake needs to be cleaned up. Well, here is an opportunity for you to “Walk the Walk” and do some good.

Organizers ask that you pre-register on their website (conewangocreek.org) or by phone at 814-726-1441. Pre-registration is needed so that organizers can plan for enough food (which is being provided by the Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association), supplies and boats for volunteers. Workers will be needed for clean-up both on shore and from boat.

Volunteers are asked to arrive at the Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association in Celoron by 8 a.m.. Coffee and donuts will be provided. The cleanup will start by 9 a.m. and end by 1 p.m., at which time the CLFA will host a hot dog lunch for the volunteers. All volunteers will need to sign a waiver. Everyone is welcome to participate, but children must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a responsible adult who can sign a waiver for them. If you wish to fill out the waiver ahead of time, the form can be downloaded from the CCWA website.

If you come to help, plan on getting wet and muddy and dress accordingly. Wear sturdy, close-toed shoes and long pants. Depending upon the weather, you may also want to bring a hat, raincoat, warm layers, sunscreen, insect repellant, water and snacks. Gloves and plastic bags will be provided. Only stormy weather will cancel the event or delay the start of it.

Along with the CCWA, the following businesses, groups and organizations are supporting the event: Bestway Container, Holly Loft Ski and Bike, Main Landing, Great Lakes Tree Services, Atlantic Broadband, United Refining/KWIK Fill, Ernest Conservation Seeds, Chief Cornplanter Council of Boy Scouts of America, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Soil and Water Conservation District, Chautauqua Fishing Association, Chautauqua County, the US Forest Service, and Conewango, Cherry Grove and Glade Townships. What an impressive list. Let’s make sure our organizations and volunteer numbers make the list this year also. See you on the river on Saturday, May 18.

Susan M. Songster Weaver is retired teacher, nature lover and longtime CWC volunteer and supporter. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit organization 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, call 664-2166 or visit chautauquawatershed.org or facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.

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