Due to the abundance of nuisance aquatic plant growth in 2012 the CLA was in desperate need to regain control in Chautauqua Lake. Thanks to generous member and foundation support and promised additional funding from county and state agencies, as a result of this extraordinary need to control the abundant Watermilfoil, Curly Leaf Pond Weed and the isolated occurrence of Water Chestnut in Chautauqua Lake, the CLA hired additional employees, launched additional equipment and worked overtime to manage this increasing infestation and to prevent new growth. Their efforts provided extraordinary results.
No other entity, public or private, exists to perform the necessary in-lake maintenance Chautauqua Lake requires. “Though we are in transition right now, we understand the needs of the community and are setting goals to provide for those needs in the future. We continue to look into ways of restoring past funding levels. This includes; increasing our fundraising efforts, utilizing volunteer programs and we are exploring a shoreline clean-up crew that could be available for hire on an hourly basis in 2013.” Despite their late start and many challenges, the stewards of Chautauqua Lake managed to achieve an impressive list of accomplishments.
- The CLA removed more than 15.6 million pounds of nuisance vegetation and debris from the lake during the short 13 week season, 50 percent more than last season. This accomplishment is attributed to emergency funding provided by New York State and Chautauqua County.
- The CLA maintained three crews for 9-weeks represented by six harvesters, four shoreline barges, three transporters, three conveyors and six trucks working to meet the needs of Chautauqua Lake. Volunteers from Cummins Engine donated 748 hours and the NYS Welfare–to-Work Program volunteered 1,498 hours on barge and shoreline clean-up crews totaling 2,200 hours of volunteer time.
- The CLA continued their annual “Ring of Fire” fundraiser by selling flares to residents and businesses to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.
- CLA General ManagerPaul Swanson coordinated the CLA “Joint Neighborhood Partnership” which provided weekly weed removal for lakefront owners in several areas. Crews were available by truck on Tuesdays and Fridays to collect and remove piled debris in designated areas after residents cleaned their shorelines. The CLA hopes to expand this pilot program in 2013.
- The CLA has a new web address, www.chautauqualakeassociation.org and the site will be receiving a re-design in 2013. Online donation and e-newsletter sign-ups will be available. The CLA created and maintained a Facebook page with harvest reports, location of weed removal crews and links about fundraising activities, invasive species, NYS postings and the Department of Health for Blue Green Algae Reports.
- The CLA participated in a community seminar at Chautauqua Institution called “Water Matters.” The presentation was sponsored by Chautauqua Institution. Racine-Johnson Ecologist Robert Johnson exhibited live aquariums of herbivores and lake vegetation. He also displayed a variety of shoreline plants, showing how they can be used to filter out nutrients going into the lake that nourish the weeds.
- Private foundations continued their support of the CLA in 2012. The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation provided $40,000 towards annual lake maintenance. The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation contributed $20,000 with an additional $10,000 matching grant. The Johnson Foundation and The Lenna Foundation both contributed $10,000 towards annual operating expenses and the Holmberg Foundation donated $8,000 to continued scientific studies. The Rotary added $5,000 to the CLA to help with shoreline efforts and lake maintenance.
- Douglas Conroe will serve as the 2013 CLA president. Craig Butler was elected as first vice president and Paul O. Stage as second. The board expressed its sincere gratitude to retiring President Chris Yates for the extraordinary efforts that he gave to CLA business in 2012.
CLA board members foresee similar financial and operational challenges going into 2013 and hope to continue partnerships with state and local officials along with private foundations and annual members to ensure a successful upcoming season.