Members of the Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA) were happy and grateful to hear of Senator Catharine Young’s (R,C,I-Olean) announcement last week that she has secured $50,000 in the 2012-13 state budget for Chautauqua Lake cleanup efforts. The grant will be allocated to the CLA for weed control under the invasive species program.
“This grant will bring us back to our 2008 funding level from New York State, which is most gratifying in terms of state support,” CLA President Chris Yates said. “Senator Young worked incredibly hard to get this restored and we’ve been blessed by the support of a variety of parties who have a long, lasting interest in Chautauqua Lake. This was wonderful news.” CLA Vice President Doug Conroe concurred and said, “No other entity does maintenance on the lake besides the CLA. There’s an overabundance of plant growth that needs to be dealt with, and that is through the harvesting method. This funding will go a long way to help with the problems the lake is facing. The senator is a fabulous supporter and she�s worked hard to do what she can. We’re very appreciative, all smiles.”
In a press release from the senator she states, “I fought hard to have these funds lined out in this year’s budget, and it is a victory that will help our local economy. Our small businesses and residents depend on having a healthy Chautauqua Lake because it brings so many revenues to our region, especially as a top summertime attraction. Over decades, my predecessors Senators Jess Present and Patricia McGee, and I were able to obtain this annual grant for the CLA, but it was eliminated in 2009 and 2010 when New York City politicians took control over all of state government after Republicans lost the Senate Majority. Governor Paterson and the Senate Democrats diverted money that historically went to upstate projects into the downstate region.”
Senator Young said combating Chautauqua Lake weeds was one of many priorities both she and Assemblyman Andy Goodell established for their districts during recent budget negotiations. She said that they have been working with Chautauqua County officials and the CLA since last fall to establish a lake cleanup work participation program to teach welfare recipients job skills so they can become self sufficient. She credited Goodell as a driving force behind the initiative, and said she is happy that County Executive Greg Edwards and social services staff are working to make the program effective.
“I am thrilled that Senator Young could obtain this financial commitment that I wholeheartedly support to help out our lake association,” Goodell said. “The lake is such a valuable resource for our county and region. It is important that we work together with county government, private residents and the CLA to ensure that the lake remains healthy and in great condition.”
Due to substantial cuts to the CLA budget, a volunteer program with Cummin’s Jamestown Engine Plant was created last year where Cummins employees worked 4-hour shifts totaling almost 1,000 hours to help with lakeshore clean-up. Cummins also donated $15,000 to help cover operating costs for equipment at the CLA. With the help of this volunteer program the CLA still was able to harvest over 3,700 tons of nuisance weeds last year.
CLA president Chris Yates is enthusiastic about reinstating the program this year along with the establishment of many community partnerships scheduled to take place this summer. “We’re going ahead with the Adopt-a-Shoreline project and Cummins JEP is hoping to double their volunteer support this season. Collectively, along with confirmations from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and Chautauqua Region Community Foundation we’re at our budgeted half strength for the coming season. Additional funding will be needed if we hope to add more equipment and manpower. We are so very appreciative of the commitments of New York State, Chautauqua County, private foundations and contributions from local businesses and members that have already come in response to our mid-winter appeal letter. Everyone seems to be stepping up to help the CLA and every contribution is important this season,” he said.
Yates is currently a member of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission which is about to contract for a sub aquatic vegetation plan that focuses on a more permanent control of nuisance and invasive weeds. Yates said the CLA will continue to support the CLMC and maintain their commitment to ongoing scientific research by monitoring herbivores and native weed growth as well as early detection of any invasive plants.
Although this grant will be a tremendous boost to CLA operations, the board is still working every venue that it can to secure funding. CLA Vice President stressed the critical need to restore other funding along with finding new revenue sources. “We still anticipate having to dry dock half of our fleet and employ a much smaller crew level as was the case last year due to funding constraints,” Conroe said. “Individual and corporate support will be critical to our being able to perform services. If we each do our part we can have a healthy and beautiful Chautauqua Lake. The CLA proved that during the last several years and with the support of elected officials like Cathy Young, Andy Goodell and Greg Edwards, the CLA can continue to be a good steward of the lake.”