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Chautauqua Lake – What Are These Weeds?

What are these “Weeds”?!

An introduction to Chautauqua Lake’s Aquatic Invasive Plants

Many aquatic plants exist within Chautauqua Lake; its nutrient-rich sediments provide a fertile growing bed for vegetation. Some of these plants are native to our area and provide critical ecological benefits, while others were introduced from distant locales and have been wreaking havoc on the ecological function, and recreational and economic value of Chautauqua Lake. Surprisingly, some of the most prevalent invasives have been with us for decades already, while a steady stream of nearby or newly arriving species poses additional challenges to the future health of the lake. Like so many lakes in our region, Chautauqua Lake faces its share of invasive species challenges. To the dismay of many boaters, fishermen and landowners, at times these “weeds” form thick mats and create a tangled mess along the shores and in favorite boating or fishing spots throughout the lake.

Long-term management of established aquatic invasive species can be complex and costly, hence best management practices strongly emphasize the importance of early detection of newly arrived species, as a complement to prevention-focused programs such as Chautauqua Lake Association’s ongoing Watercraft Steward Program. Early identification of target species, combined with quick, focused actions, can prevent an outbreak from becoming unmanageable and prohibitively expensive. This project focuses on the development of an effective Early Detection Volunteer Taskforce. By providing easy-to-use educational materials that are focused on the priority invasive species most likely to impact Chautauqua Lake in the near future, providing accurate information to interested volunteers, homeowners, recreational lake users, and professionals, and by offering in-depth training sessions, anyone who is interested can become part of this early detection monitoring network and contribute to improving the health and sustainability of Chautauqua Lake.

In the summer of 2018, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI), in partnership with the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, the County of Chautauqua, and Evergreen Outfitters in Mayville, offered a series of public programs focused on Chautauqua Lake’s “weeds”. Through these programs, attendees learned how to differentiate the beneficial, native aquatic plant species from the invasive, problematic species, and learned what we can do as individuals and as communities to prevent their spread. These programs were offered at several different venues around the lake in order to engage Chautauqua Lake’s shoreline community. Additionally, through the project a variety of educational outreach materials were created. If you would like to learn more about this project, the “weeds” in Chautauqua Lake or how to get involved in the Early Detection Volunteer Taskforce, please see the materials below. Also, please pay attention to the RTPI events page for future training and volunteer paddle events.

This project is collaboration between the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. Funding was provided from the Environmental Protection Fund as administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, through the generous support of Senator Catharine Young. The County of Chautauqua provided support in the form of a pass-through grant to the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Alliance.

Rack cards: https://archive.rtpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/1_CHQ-Established-Species-Rack-Card.pdf

Posters: https://archive.rtpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/1_Chautauqua_Aquatic_Invasive_Plant_Poster.pdf

Standard Operating Procedure: https://archive.rtpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Aquatic-Invasive-Plants-Early-Detection-Standard-Operating-Procedure-for-Chautauqua-Lake.pdf

Webinar trainings:
Intro to AIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm_QWvVtCWQ

GPS & iMap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIdIK-In9I0&t=66s