Moving Ahead For The Lake’s Future

Things continue to move in a positive direction on the Lake.

A friend of mine, who likes his exercise, recently rowed his boat along the shoreline from about Ashville Bay to the hotel in Celeron. It was very evident where the herbicide had been applied and where it hadn’t. The area along the shore in the usual heavy weed area of Burtis Bay was especially noticeable for having fewer weeds.

The DEC approved more acreage for herbicide treatment this year, but also did not grant permits where it had been applied last year. They are trying not to “over-treat” the lake, and it looks like this approach of applying herbicides every other year or every third year will be the policy going forward. We will have to wait and see how that works.

There was also a recent report published by another company hired by the county, which suggested that certain weeds might be better treated by cutting or by a combination of cutting and chemical treatment…so there is still a learning curve going on as to what long-term policies should be followed on lake weed management.

Because we no longer have a state Senator in a powerful position as part of the majority in Albany, funding for the lake has been reduced. This has resulted in an announcement by the Chautauqua Lake Association that their weed-cutting operations this year will pretty much be limited to the north basin of the lake.

This brings up the whole issue of how lake weed management should be financed in the future. There has been some information floated about establishing a new lake management district which, if created, could levy a fee or tax on properties around the lake. What is being discussed is not much — it would range from around $200 per year to $75 per year per parcel. Yet, even discussing it has caused push-back from non-profits and others who would be subject to it.

Perhaps the county should do a survey upfront on the potentially affected properties to gauge public support for such an effort. It is never easy to levy such fees even though the impact would be relatively small.

Another thought would be for the county to develop a matching program for local towns who are investing in lake management and make it a county-wide effort — similar to how the county assists in town bridge projects. This would garner more support in Mayville. (There are only three or four legislators out of the 19 in Mayville who directly represent the shoreline of Chautauqua Lake.)

Whatever is done, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that Albany is going to come in and bail us out every year on Chautauqua Lake management expenses. Now that Republicans have slipped into what appears to be a permanent minority status in both houses of the legislature, our chances of getting that kind of money are slim to none.

Financing our own lake management costs is going to be a “boot-strap” operation. We are going to have to figure out how to finance it — or it won’t happen.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.