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What Are You Thankful For?

As Thanksgiving approaches, we find ourselves paying a little more attention to the things we are thankful for.

I’m thankful for a lot of things, one being all the people who appreciate the beauty of our county and who have dedicated their time to help keep it that way. CWC, CCS&W, CLA, CLP, CCC, CWA — there are a lot of acronyms and a lot of groups working in our county. An entire book could be written documenting all these organizations and explaining how they are all different and what each one focuses on. We have our differences, but I choose to believe that, at the end of the day, we all really want the same thing — to maintain, improve, and protect the beautiful place in which we live, work, and play.

I am not the right person to write that book, so instead, I will focus on helping to explain the one group I know best — the CWC, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. In hopes of clearing up one piece of the Chautauqua County acronym water organization puzzle, I want to focus on what our name means. First, we have “Chautauqua” — this is where we work. We are a county-wide organization, meaning we work throughout the entire county, from way up north to Irving all the way south to Clymer and everywhere in between.

Next, we have “Watershed” – this is how we work. Our mission is to protect and improve our region’s waterways by working throughout the watershed to protect land that acts as a vital filter to stop sediment and harmful pollutants from reaching our streams, rivers, and lakes. We also work with homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to do the same. At this point you may be thinking “what is a watershed?” The New York Department of Environmental Conservation does a really nice job explaining the concept:

“A watershed is the land that water flows across or under on its way to a river, lake, stream or bay. Water travels over farm fields, forests, suburban lawns and city streets, or it seeps into the soil and travels as groundwater. Watersheds are separated from each other by high points, such as hills or slopes. To picture a watershed, think of a small brook that flows into a river. The river then flows into a lake. All the land that surrounds the brook, river and lake are in one watershed, because all the water in the area flows into the lake.”

No matter where you are right now, you are in a watershed. We can and should work within our lakes to protect and restore them, but if we don’t address the root causes of our lakes’ problems in the watershed, then all of that time and money spent working on them will be wasted.

Finally, we have “Conservancy” – this is why we work. According to Merriam-Webster, to conserve is “to keep safe; especially: to avoid wasteful or destructive use.” We are a local land trust that holds and protects natural spaces for our community, for the health of our waterways, and for our local wildlife, which need undeveloped land to survive. Our board, our staff, and our volunteers all work to conserve this fine county we call home.

Put it all together, and you get the “Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.” Just one piece of the sometimes-confusing water-related organization puzzle. We work here in Chautauqua County independently as well as in partnership with area homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to hold and improve our local lands and waterways in order to protect their health and beauty for us now and for future generations.

Later this week when I sit down to eat turkey with my loved ones, we will all share what we are thankful for. I am thankful for anyone who wants to make their community a better place for those who live in it, and I am especially thankful for the wonderful people I get to work with each day who strive to do just that. So, on behalf of CWC, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a fun and safe holiday!

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, visit chautauquawatershed.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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