Aquatic Invasive Species Surveys
Many aquatic plants exist within Chautauqua Lake. Its nutrient-rich sediments provide a fertile growing bed for vegetation. Some of the lake’s plants are native to our area and provide critical ecological and environmental benefits, while those that are invasive (introduced from distant locales) can negatively impact the ecological function, recreational and economic value of the lake.
To help combat these invasives and other nuisance plants in Chautauqua Lake, the AIS Early Detection Network was created, which consists of CWC staff, volunteers and program partners. Through targeted education and outreach efforts, CWC staff trains volunteers in the identification of invasive species through in-person and online training sessions. Instructors and students then take to the water in various locations around the lake where invasives have been reported in years past. Such on-water surveys allow volunteers to apply their newfound identification skills while simultaneously re-surveying areas where potentially harmful invasives may persist. If found, such target species are reported through the online reporting portal iMapInvasives (www.imapinvasives.org), and the offending plants are carefully removed. It is in exactly this manner that hundreds of invasive water chestnut plants have been removed from the Chautauqua Lake outlet. It also led to the discovery of two significant populations of the plant-like algae starry stonewort along Ashville Bay and Prendergast Point in the summer of 2022.
The AIS Early Detection Program and its stewards will continue to keep a watchful eye on these areas and collaborate with aquatic invasive species experts and local partners on how best to continue to contain water chestnut and also keep starry stonewort from expanding farther into Chautauqua Lake.
CWC’s 2022 series of invasive species trainings and on-water surveys was held throughout the summer at a number of locations around the lake with funding assistance from the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance. CWC and the Alliance will be partnering again to offer this program in the summer of 2023. If you’d like to join in, please check our website calendar and Facebook page in late spring for dates and locations.
Online information sessions covering plant identification and the importance of early detection are also available freely to anyone who is interested:
Introduction to Chautauqua Lake’s Aquatic Invasive Species