Caring For The Lake Is Caring For People

To The Reader’s Forum:

The recent letter to the Readers’ Forum by Tom Erlandson and Jim Wehrfritz of the Chautauqua Lake Partnership confused me. The authors began by asking that we honor Earth Day every day, but then they criticized the Chautauqua Lake Alliance, Chautauqua County government and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for their response to the fish kill in Burtis Bay. They complained about these groups for caring for nature and the ecology of the lake, claiming that the DEC is putting mussels before people and concluding that “People are important, too.”

At the same time that we are marveling at the return of the eagles, nearly extinct because of pesticides, we are getting ready to dump chemicals in the lake that have been shown to harm waterfowl and fish, as well as mammals. The sounds of lawnmowers and leaf blowers are filling the air in my lakeside community as we do our spring cleaning, and yellow flags in too many yards warn to stay off because the chemicals that feed our weeds have been applied. It will take no time at all for these chemicals to enter the lake through groundwater and storm drains that are feet from the shoreline.

The trees, birds, fish, plants, and yes, mussels, have been here far longer than people have been here. We are continuing to understand the complex connections we have with the rest of creation, but the fact that we are connected is undisputed. We share 25 percent of our DNA with trees and are even closer genetically to those mussels. We all come from the same genetic soup. The living organisms in the lake, plants and animals, are essential elements of a healthy lake, not the people living on the shore.

We are not just on the earth, we are of the earth, and are obligated be good stewards.

Caring for nature and the ecology of the lake IS caring for people.

Beth Peyton

Bemus Point


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