Invasive Species

Click the image to see a great video from the Lake George Association on how invasive water species hitchhike on equipment from water body to water body.
Click the image to see a great video from the Lake George Association on how invasive water species hitchhike on equipment from water body to water body.

Large bodies of water, Chautauqua Lake in this case, is a delicate ecosystem full of plants, animals, microorganisms and even nonliving chemicals. These ecosystems can be easily disrupted by organisms living or nonliving that do not belong.

Invasive water species are defined by the National Invasive Species Council as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm or harm to human health. In the technical sense, the term ‘invasion’ simply denotes the uncontrolled or unintended spread of an organism outside its native range.” (NISC Invasive White Paper)

This guide is meant to help you identify invasive water species. Invasive water species do not only contiminate the lake; they can become dangerous to your health and your way of life! Foreign plants can destroy habitats for many other native plants and animals, ruin recreational opportunies and can be hazardous to one’s health!

If you notice new plants, blue-green scum floating in standing water or strange odors, report them to your local waterway agencies immediately. If you come into contact with such organisms and illness occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

With your help, we can keep Chautauqua Lake beautiful and SAFE for years to come!

Most Un-Wanted List:



  1. Prevent erosion
    Soil in meant to remain on the land and not in our water bodies. The area soils are rich in nutrients, especially phosphorus which clings to soil particles. Soil deposition is a very efficient tool for delivering additional phosphorus to water bodies. The deep roots of trees and shrubs are excellent at preventing soil erosion and at a very low cost.
  2. Reduce phosphorus content in local watersheds
    Chautauqua Lake is shallow and has a very large watershed. The lake has been declared impaired due to its phosphorus content, which has been “slightly increasing” over the past 25 years. Human activities associated with development, such removal of natural areas, increased impervious surface, and increased sewer outputs, have been directly linked to increases in phosphorus. Since, phosphorus content is directly correlated to algal blooms, increasing natural areas to prevent nutrient-rich water from reaching any body of water is important.
  3. Keep runoff from the land on the land
    Areas with natural vegetation, trees, shrubs and plants, provide places where runoff can be slowed down and spread out. When it slows down, the water can be absorbed into the ground. It is then, that the nutrients and pollutants carried in the water can be absorbed by the root systems of that natural vegetation. The larger the natural area, the greater the benefits provided including flood control. Impervious surfaces provide faster paths for nutrient-rich runoff to reach the lake and streams. Disconnect downspouts and plant rain gardens.
  4. Protect your drinking water
    Runoff that can slow down and spread out in a natural area, will be filtered when it soaks into the ground. This process recharges the groundwater, the source of our drinking water. Natural buffer areas protect nearby wetlands, lakes or streams that also recharge the groundwater. Avoid use of petroleum products and lawn chemicals near wells. Test private water wells for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Native plants have developed natural defenses against predators preventing the need to buy or use pesticides.
  5. Create wildlife corridors
    Your property and the surrounding land are pieces of the regional environmental puzzle. Cornell University landscape department emphasizes the importance of restoring natural corridors to provide pathways for many species. See
  6. Increase your property value
    Areas with natural, park-like settings have higher property values. Natural preserves and landscaped areas have proven to help make homes and communities more saleable. Accessibility to natural areas is also more desirable. Why not in your own backyard?
  7. Encourage biodiversity
    The variety and interdependence of living things allows all of them to be healthy. The delicate balance and complexity of living relationships requires natural systems. The basis for healthy diversity is the natural plant communities at the edge of the water and in our yards. Water bodies and their shoreline areas support some of the richest biodiversity in the northern latitudes.
  8. Create wildlife habitats
    Twice the number of species of wildlife can be found at the shore as in the upland areas. These include insects, amphibians, fish, birds, waterfowl and more. All wildlife needs food, water, shelter and living space. Therefore, providing more native plants provides more food and shelter thus making a healthy foundation for all living things.
  9. Purchase natives
    The roots of a plant are key to its ability to absorb nutrients and hold soil. Generally, native plant roots are as deep in the ground as their above ground height. Trees and shrubs have the deepest roots, lawn grass has the shortest. Native plants have adapted to the area and are generally hardier and more disease resistant. They are the correct food supply for the native insects and other wildlife.
  10. Mow less and enjoy the butterflies
    Lawn has no nutritional value for wildlife. In the dry summer months, it is nearly as impervious as paved surfaces. Plus, it does require hours of maintenance. After planting a native garden, sit back and enjoy the beautiful creatures that will visit it. By adding native plants to your yard, pride yourself on doing something good for wildlife, your drinking water and a nearby body of water.