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Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy Reaches 30th Anniversary Year

2020 is the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s 30th anniversary year! CWC remains committed to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, rivers and streams of the Chautauqua region.

In 2020, the most serious threats to our waterways are excessive nutrient and pollution runoff, both of which fuel excessive aquatic plant and algae growth. Science has shown that the best way to address these problems is to preserve natural landscapes, address sources of pollution and nutrients and reduce erosion. Despite having to cancel many public events due to COVID-19 restrictions, our watershed land conservation, technical assistance, pollution prevention and preserve enhancement and management activities have proceeded, with modifications for safety as necessary.

CWC started the year by closing on the purchase of 76 acres of forest and lakeshore wetlands on Upper Cassadaga Lake to establish the future Cassadaga Lakes Nature Park. Several volunteers from the CLNP campaign team have been assisting CWC with marking and clearing trails and planning for the construction of a welcome shelter/kiosk and wildlife observation blind. Labella Associates has graciously been assisting with architectural design of improvements. Fundraising for improvements and a park stewardship endowment fund will continue. This project has been funded by the Lenna Foundation, Jessie Smith Darrah Fund, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Cassadaga Lakes Association and 45 additional organizations, families, individuals and businesses to date. A New York State Municipal Parks grant has been awarded toward the purchase of this site. Construction on park structures is anticipated to commence later this year and be completed in 2021.

CWC is partnering with the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Alliance and Chautauqua County on many of its initiatives. CWC Conservationist Carol Markham and Water Quality Program Manager Whitney Gleason and collaborating landowners and volunteers have been busy implementing complementary Starve the Algae! Save the Lake!, Chemical-Free Lawn Care and Lakescapes programs. Lakeshore buffer and stormwater pond landscaping demonstration projects were planted in Lakewood (Winchester Road), Mayville Park and West Ellicott (Heritage Ministries) in June. Lakewood residents have established a no-mow lakeshore buffer 600-feet long west of Winchester Road. Carol has made 69 Lakescapes landscaping advisements, including 44 shore sites since May, with more to come!

CWC has aired hundreds of chemical-free lawn care radio messages and utilized various social media since April to educate landowners on how they can avoid fertilizing our lakes, avoid killing pollinators and other beneficial organisms and, at the same time, protect the health of families and pets.

CWC is proceeding with its Tributary Conservation and Enhancement Program to identify and address sources of pollution from our waterways, enhance and heal stream corridors, plant waterfront buffers and establish conservation easements to protect our waterways. CWC and the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District are pursuing funding for projects to fence cattle out of Mud Creek (a Chautauqua Lake tributary) and permanently conserve the stream corridor, as well as other similar sites on lake tributaries. CWC is facilitating projects with local municipalities to seek funds and construct or enhance stormwater basins, created wetlands and other structures to trap sediments and nutrients before they reach the lake. Through its Clear Waters Land Conservation Program, CWC is pursuing the permanent conservation of lands on Prendergast Creek, Cheney Creek and Goose Creek, with stream bank restoration and erosion control where needed. CWC is also working to conserve scenic and ecologically-valuable lands on Chautauqua Creek and Cattaraugus Creek.

CWC has 31 nature preserves covering 1,043 acres throughout Chautauqua County. CWC continues to make several Gateways to Nature improvements to its preserves to make them more accessible and enjoyable for public use. Much of this work is carried out by volunteers and interns. The public is encouraged to come out and walk its preserves with marked trails: Dobbins Woods, Bentley Preserve, Chautauqua Creek Oxbow Preserve, Brown’s Creek Preserve and Naetzker Preserve. Other preserves are open to the public for exploration but don’t have marked trails, so please bring a compass!

Our region’s watersheds need to be conserved and restored to forest wherever possible to maintain the quality of the waters in our lakes and streams for drinking and recreation. CWC invites you to learn more about this vital work and how you can participate in the stewardship of our lands and waters by visiting our website and following CWC on Facebook and Instagram. We invite you to get on board for clean water and healthy habitats!

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, please visit our website at chautauquawatershed.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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