About the CLA

Who We Are

The mission of the Chautauqua Lake Association is to continue as the “Steward of Chautauqua Lake” serving to the extent that our resources will allow by:

  • Providing effective and efficient lake maintenance services for the benefit of all Chautauqua Lake users.
  • Promoting and facilitating the ongoing scientific study of the Chautauqua Lake and its surrounding ecosystem.
  • Participating in/and or cooperating with local, state and federal lake management programs, and/ or applicable regulatory agencies in existence or being formed.
  • Educating the community about Chautauqua Lake’s ecosystem and environmental lake management practices.






Why We Are Here

Our priority is to keep Chautauqua Lake safe, fun, and clean for residents and visitors alike. And, to preserve Chautauqua Lake for future generations. 

What We Do

The CLA is more than lake maintenance.

Although we are mainly known for our in-lake program of seasonal harvesting of the annual nuisance aquatic vegetation, we also provide safe waterways for lake users by removing debris and clearing clogged navigational lanes.  In addition we offer a unique shoreline service that assists lakefront owners with the burden of cleaning their shorelines and we offer weed disposal services to businesses and homeowners as they clear their lakefront. We have recently performed successful dredging projects on lake tributaries and are investigating other needed dredging work. In addition we are exploring the possibility of offering additional shoreline assistance programs for 2017 in response to the public concern about the need to increase shoreline maintenance. 

The CLA performs extensive scientific monitoring and provides invasive species spread prevention programs.  In 2016, we initiated the first multi-site watercraft steward program in Chautauqua County. We contract annually with Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists for plant inventory and density analysis and monitoring in addition to other lake research needs. We provide a Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring program along with a water quality monitoring program. Our information is shared with governmental agencies and many collaborating parties. It also assists us with our future lake maintenance planning.

Annual funding for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is based on governmental support, foundation support , member contributions and fundraisers.  Each year we look for additional funding opportunities and grants to assist us with funding lake needs and to allow us to offer improved services. For example, our 2016 new fundraisers and expanded dredging program provided us with additional income that kept us from implementing further program reductions beyond the reduction that we had to implement during the past several years due to realities of the economy.  Our all volunteer Board of Directors insists on operating within a balanced budget in order to avoid negatively affecting future years’ services.

We offer education to the public through our website and Facebook. We also participate in many community programs such as Conservation Days, Lake Rallies and Service Club presentations.  Our full-time staff is continually educated with new trends and techniques to provide the most cost effective and efficient ways to maintain our equipment and manage the annual plant growth in Chautauqua Lake.  We collaborate with all local environmental and lake related organizations and participate in NYS Federation of Lakes Association programs.

Where We Operate 





Our Equipment

The CLA utilizes a diversified inventory of equipment in order to meet the lake maintenance needs of Chautauqua Lake.  No other lake association is known to have such a significant equipment inventory.  CLA personnel operate the equipment during the summer and then fully service the vessels during the winter months.  All equipment is maintained in “as new” condition which minimizes downtime during the intensive summer season.

Aquatic Plant Harvesters

The CLA owns and maintains eight Aquatic Plant Harvesters. These machines range in size from a seven foot wide cut to an eleven foot wide cut. These harvesters are capable of harvesting to a depth of five feet. This makes the surface water available for human use while  habitat is maintained subsurface for aquatic life use.  Harvested material is conveyed onto the machine as it moves through the water. These harvesters have a storage capability ranging from four to eight hundred cubic feet in size.

Clean Up

Harvesters are a self-sustained system capable of cutting, loading and transporting aquatic plants. An aquatic plant harvester cuts the vegetation, collects and stores the debris on board. Aquatic plant harvesters are fitted with one or more conveyors that move the harvested materials throughout the machine. Aquatic Plant Harvesters offer an environmentally sound method of controlling excessive aquatic plant growth and nuisance vegetation in waterways of all sizes. When the storage hold becomes full, the harvester usually unloads onto a transport barge but can also unload onto a landside truck conveyor.

The replacement cost for the eight harvesters is estimated to total $1,140,000.

Transport Barges

A Barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for the transport of heavy goods. Three types of barges are used by the CLA.

Due to the limited number of access sites along Chautauqua Lake the CLA purchased transport barges. These machines allow the harvesters to work and unload onto the transport barges instead of having to travel to shore to unload. The transport barges have the capability of traveling three times faster to the unloading sites along the shore than do the harvesters. The CLA currently owns three of these transport barges.

The CLA estimates that the transport barges increase the efficiency of a harvesting program by up to 90%. Transport Barges optimize the material handling process. Weed loads are conveyed from the harvester into the transport barge, freeing the harvester to immediately resume work while the Transport ferries the vegetation to shore.  At a distance these machines are similar in appearance to the harvesters and therefore are often mistakenly perceived to be harvesters.  This becomes problematic for public perception regarding harvesting efficiency when a transport is sitting idle awaiting receipt of a load from a harvester or when it is perceived that a harvester is loosing harvesting time by going to and from unloading locations.

The replacement cost for the three transport barges is estimated to total $480,000.

Floating Debris/Shoreline Work Barges

Work Barges are used on Chautauqua Lake to follow behind the harvesters collecting any debris missed by the harvesting crews. These barges also maintain the 42 miles of shoreline gathering excess floating vegetation and debris. Additionally they are used for all types of storm clean-up. This unique technique that the CLA utilizes ensures minimum loss of aquatic vegetation and reduces plant repopulation. Debris is transported to shoreline conveyors and then disposed of at environmentally safe locations via dump trucks.

The replacement cost for the four work barges is estimated to total $105,000.

Hydro-Mate Barge

The CLA’s Hydro-Mate Barge is a multi-use, heavy duty machine with a forward mounted hydraulic crane. This is used for storm clean up and for the removal of heavy debris, such as fallen trees. It can also be used for small dredging projects.2

The replacement cost for the Hydro-Mate Barge is estimated to total $190,000.

Shore Conveyors

The CLA has three Shore Conveyors. These mobile units are positioned at the various unloading sites along the waters’ edge and allow the Aquatic Plant Harvesters, Transports and Barges to unload the harvested vegetation and debris. The material is unloaded onto the conveyor which elevates the load up and into a waiting dump truck for disposal.

The replacement cost for the three mobile conveyors is estimated to total $84,000.

Bobcat Loader

Bobcat Loaders are relatively compact and versatile pieces of machinery, used to scoop soil, rubble and other materials. When a loader’s bucket contains material, it can be lifted and deposited into a truck or moved to another location. This piece of equipment is used on heavily infested shorelines to remove excessive amounts of nuisance vegetation.


The replacement cost of the Bobcat Loader along with its related trailer is estimated to total $70,500.

Dresser Loader

A loader is a heavy equipment machine that has a front-mounted square wide bucket connected to the end of two booms (arms) to scoop up loose material from the ground. A loader is often used to load material or move a stockpiled material from ground level and deposit it into an awaiting dump truck. The CLA has also uses the loader to launch its fleet of equipment each season, to move equipment around the shop and storage yard for maintenance and to remove equipment from the water each fall.

The replacement cost for the loader is estimated to total $106,000.


A forklift truck is a powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials. The forklift has become an indispensable piece of equipment in warehousing operations.

The replacement cost for the fork lift is estimated to total $75,000.

Gator Utility Vehicle

The John Deere Gator is a small all-terrain utility vehicle with a box bed, similar to a pickup truck. The CLA uses this machine on a weekly basic with its shoreline crews to pick up and haul away vegetation piled by area residents.

The replacement cost for the Gator is estimated to total $3,900.


The CLA owns four large dump trucks which are used on a daily basis to haul the harvested material from the shorelines of Chautauqua Lake to suitable dump sites. The CLA also owns four smaller dump trucks which are used as part of the floating debris and shoreline crews which have dramatically increased the efficiency of the shoreline operation.


The replacement cost of the vehicular fleet is estimated to total $593,700.

Yard Trailers

The CLA owns two yard trailers. These trailers are used for the launching and removal of the equipment from the lake.

The replacement cost for the yard trailers is estimated to total $70,000.