The Chautauqua Lake Association traces its beginnings to a special committee of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce set up in 1946 to study deteriorating conditions in the lake and to seek the means of correcting them. This committee made an exhaustive report of its findings, a copy of which is available on request. Since no funds then existed to remedy conditions a group of civic-minded men organized the Chautauqua Lake Association and obtained a certificate of incorporation in August 1953.

The original objectives of the founders were to study and research lake conditions and thereafter to carry out all possible remedial measures in the fields of weed control, pollution and pest control, dredging and pile removal, soil conservation, and lake safety. Although those objectives remain in place today, the current focus is to perform environmentally sound plant control practices, undertake scientific monitoring and relevant research, service the shoreline in promotion of maintaining healthy conditions, and promote educational efforts to enhance public understanding of lake association methods and lake needs.

Since 1954, the CLA has sponsored lake improvement projects, has performed lake maintenance services, and has facilitated on-going scientific monitoring and research. The CLA also was instrumental decades ago in the creation of the Office of the County Sanitation Engineer in addition to a County Sewer Agency while successfully backing legislation making it easier to set up new sewer districts. The CLA’s pollution control committee acted as a special committee for the former Board of Supervisors to study the pollution problem and the committee’s subsequent report became a handbook on that phase of lake conditions.

Equipment purchased by the CLA on behalf of the community utilizing foundation funding includes:

  • 8 harvesters
  • 4 work barges
  • 3 transport barges
  • 1 Hydro-Mate work barge
  • 3 heavy duty mobile conveyors
  • 8 dump trucks
  • 1 equipment truck
  • 3 trailers
  • 1 Bobcat loader
  • 1 Dresser loader
  • 1 forklift
  • 1 Gator all-terrain utility vehicle.

All repairs are performed in house over the winter months by our master mechanic at a significant savings. Each piece is brought in from the yard and totally serviced, stripped, sanded and painted. When the tornado hit the Mayville area two summers ago the CLA was the responder that removed the tons of debris and downed trees that were deposited into the lake. When the carp die-off occurred in 2009 the CLA removed 60,000 dead carp thereby allowing Fourth of July activities to proceed unimpeded.

The Chautauqua Lake Association has participated in numerous scientific studies over the years involving SUNY Fredonia, Jamestown Community College, and private contractors. Current scientific work started almost a decade ago utilizing Cornell Ponds researcher Robert L. Johnson concentrating on herbivore research and enhancement and plant colonies mapping and identification. His study of the Caddis fly has proven to be invaluable in understanding changing developments in plant presence. The CLA is a charter member of New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA), where for 29 years the CLA has participated in  the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) collecting samples of lake water from both basins to document water quality which has saved the community significant expense and has become the basis for NYS Department of Environmental Conservation decision making.

The Chautauqua Lake Association, a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, is the only organization carrying out actual lake maintenance work. Its all-volunteer Board of Directors is made up of men and women from all walks of life. Involving the collaboration of volunteers, businesses, individuals, governments, and foundations the CLA is able to perform operations at a cost that has proven to be the least expensive option for lake maintenance services.