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An introduction to Chautauqua Lake’s Aquatic Invasive Plants

Posted by on May 7, 2018

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 and environmental benefits, while others were introduced from distant locales and have been wreaking havoc on the ecological function, 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 an early detection monitoring network and contribute to improving the health and sustainability of Chautauqua Lake.

Mike Christy, one of RTPI’s summer research interns,
hauls in a clump of invasive aquatic vegetation.

This summer, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI), in partnership with the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, the County of Chautauqua, and Evergreen Outfitters in Mayville, will be offering a series of public programs focused on Chautauqua Lake’s “weeds”. Through these programs, you can learn how to differentiate the beneficial, native aquatic plant species from the invasive, problematic species, and learn what we as individuals and as communities can do to prevent their spread. These programs will be offered at several different venues around the lake in order to engage Chautauqua Lake’s shoreline community.

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.

Please see below for specific program information:


May 16th 6:00pm-7:00pm:

Join Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Elyse Henshaw for an introduction to the invasive aquatic plants that exist within Chautauqua Lake, Chautauqua County, and the surrounding region, and what can be done to prevent their spread. This event is being hosted by the Lutheran Center at Lake Chautauqua’s Retreat Center located at 5013 Route 430 Bemus Point, NY.

May 25th 10:00am-4:00pm:

Are you interested in becoming a better steward of Chautauqua Lake – and getting out on the water for a fun and informative day? Please consider attending this day-long training session in which attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Gain knowledge of the various invasive aquatic plants impacting Chautauqua Lake and other water bodies within Chautauqua County and the surrounding region;
  • Gain familiarity with iMapInvasives, the statewide reporting database for invasive species;
  • Learn how to operate a hand-held GPS unit and
  • Utilize newly learned identification skills on the water.

Kayaks will be provided, at no charge, by Evergreen Outfitters. A brief kayak safety lesson will be included. This event will take place at the Mayville Lakeside Park in the Carlson Community Center located at 50 W Lake Road, Mayville, NY.

*If you would like to attend, please RSVP for this event by the end of the day Tuesday, May 22nd by emailing Elyse Henshaw at [email protected] or by calling 716-665-2473 ext. 231. Please include your name, phone number, and whether you need a kayak or would prefer to bring your own.  If you do need a kayak, please also provide your height and weight so you can be properly fit for a boat and personal floatation device by Evergreen Outfitters. Class size is limited to 15 and lunch is BYO.

May 30th 7:00pm-9:00pm:

Upon their introduction, invasive species can dramatically alter an ecosystem and trigger significant losses of native flora and fauna. In aquatic systems, invasive species can spread especially rapidly by developing thick, impenetrable mats making it impossible for boats, swimmers and birds to pass through. Join Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Twan Leenders and Elyse Henshaw for a special program concerning the invasive aquatic plants currently affecting Chautauqua Lake and the surrounding region, their impacts on waterfowl and other important waterbirds, and what we can do to prevent the spread of these alien species. This event, hosted by the RTPI Ornithological Club, will be held at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute located at 311 Curtis Street, Jamestown, NY.

Additional invasive species training events will be held throughout the summer at multiple locations around the lake.  The dates and locations will be announced soon.  For more information, please contact Elyse Henshaw at 716-665-2473 ext. or [email protected].