CLA Celebrates Successful Summer Season, Looks Ahead to Challenges in 2017

As the Chautauqua Lake Association harvesting season comes to an end, the organization has reported 2016 as a resounding success. Over 13 million pounds of aquatic vegetation was removed from Chautauqua Lake this summer. That total is over 3 million pounds more than the total for both 2015 and 2014 seasons combined.

“We did our best to meet the urgent needs of lake residents as we discovered new weed patterns and problem areas in 2016. Every year is different. We typically find similarities that allow us to jump right in to the annual routine to manage the aquatic vegetation efficiently. This year was very different,” said Don Emhardt, operations manager for the CLA. The CLA found very few weeds in the lower basin while the middle and upper lake was bursting with obstacles and problematic areas needing to be addressed.

The CLA had three crews working eight hours a day, five days a week to manage the aquatic vegetation while harvesting and cleaning 42 miles of Chautauqua Lake shoreline. As promised, they visited all areas of the lake. The CLA’s goal is to provide a clean, clear, safe lake while assisting residents with their shorelines and encouraging everyone to enjoy beautiful Chautauqua Lake. Although many areas of the lake had more than the average number of visits by the CLA throughout the summer, several lake residents and business owners called the CLA office to express their frustration with the weed clean up.

“We assisted boaters with clear navigational lanes and helped homeowners with their shorelines, however, there are many acres of water and miles of shoreline for us to tend to,” said Doug Conroe, executive director for the CLA. “We understand the frustrations that some home and business owners have, so we began to offer additional assistance this year with vegetation disposal,” said Conroe. The CLA offered pickup truck vegetation disposal in the areas the CLA could not get to right away. As always, the organization welcomes input from the public in-person or via telephone to help examine the changing needs of the lake and lake users.

The CLA is a nonprofit funded partially by local foundations, local towns, villages, and municipalities as well as Chautauqua County and New York State. Even with this generous foundation and governmental support, 1/3 of the CLA’s operating budget relies on membership and community donations. Due to spring budget cuts, the CLA kept three active crews but reduced their crew sizes and limited their service to 12 weeks. This proved to be very challenging due to the abundance of vegetation experienced this summer.

“If the aquatic vegetation continues to be plentiful, the CLA will need to explore the option of running 10-hour shifts and enlarging their crew sizes for the 2017 season. Continued support from the community permits the CLA to perform the tasks needed, whatever they may be. We welcome any and all donations to help us with our mission,” said Conroe.