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Continue Coordinated Chautauqua Lake Efforts

Now that the herbicide treatment on Chautauqua Lake has been completed for the summer of 2022, it is interesting to note where it happened and where it didn’t happen.

The first application was made to counter the invasive Curly-leaf Pond Weed. In total, a request was made to treat over 300 acres of the lake. The DEC, after reviewing the applications, issued permits to treat 115 acres. Curly-leaf Pond weed usually matures about this time of the year, and you can see and smell it when it blooms, floats, then dies and sinks to the bottom.

This year, the treatments took place in Bemus Bay and down past the Casino in Bemus Point, in general as far as the outlet of Bemus Creek.

Two weeks later, after analyzing the lake and reviewing data from last year, the DEC also approved the application of herbicide for the invasive species, Eurasian Watermilfoil. Approximately 380 acres of the lake in the Towns of Ellery and Busti were treated. The largest single area was for 120 acres in the Village of Lakewood. An application for milfoil treatment was made by the Town of North Harmony, but no permit was granted for the shoreline in that township.

To those who don’t live on or use the lake, this may all seem like a “ho-hum” issue, i.e. “who cares anyway?” However, if you are a boat owner and can’t get your boat through the weeds or a homeowner who must put up with sight and smell of decaying weeds–then it is an important matter.

I remember the days when a large portion of the lake was treated and then was essentially shut down for a week or two because of the toxicity of the herbicide being used. Fortunately, today, there may be a day two when swimming and water use are discouraged. But, overall, the chemicals being used are much less toxic than in the old days, and water-use limitations (except for perhaps watering your lawn) are minimal.

I know that for some, the application of any weed-killer on the lake will always be anathema. Yet, my own view is that a balanced approach to applying herbicide will need to be continued for some parts of the lake. The shallow, warm waters of our lake are perfect for water plants to grow in–including those which are invasive and not native to the lake.

Probably the biggest test for lake weed control is in the shallow water of Burtis Bay. This year the DEC issued a permit for herbicide around the new hotel in Celoron, but much of the bay was not treated. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. A friend of mine got his boat stuck in the weeds last weekend around the entrance to the outlet, so we know that they are still a factor in this area.

All of this points to the importance of continuing our research on the lake and its health. Likely the next big challenge will be to deal with toxic algae growth.

We need to keep improving our research and data gathering activities around the lake. The Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance of organizations dealing with lake issues has been coordinating much of this, and we need them to continue the effort.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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