As we close out one year and look forward with anticipation to a new year, we tally our accomplishments of 2022. CWC’s team of scientists and conservationists carried out an ambitious array of activities to further our mission to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty, and ecological health of the lakes, streams and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. Our conservation work was implemented from the Lake Erie watershed south to Chautauqua Lake, the Chadakoin River and Conewango Creek, on wild rural sites to industrial city sites. Natural habitats were conserved, and urban residents experienced ecological enhancements to their riverfront neighborhoods.
In 2022, we expanded the Salomon Family Preserve by 6.6 acres to permanently add the trail head and meadow areas of this preserve and added a 5.5-acre conservation easement to enlarge the protected area of the Chautauqua Creek Oxbow Preserve in the Chautauqua Gorge. These two conservation donations were the culmination of several years of work with landowners who care deeply about the plants and animals that live on their land. CWC had another successful year of assisting landowners to enhance their yards and grounds for water quality and wildlife habitat. CWC’s conservationist Carol Markham provided LakeScapes technical assistance to 156 landowners on the lakes and in the watersheds feeding our lakes in 2022. This means less pollution going into our lakes and more food and shelter for songbirds, waterfowl, frogs, turtles, snakes, and other wildlife so important to the ecology of the region and to those of us who take great delight in watching this wildlife in our yards and other wild places. CWC’s Director of Conservation Twan Leenders led teams of volunteers to identify and pull invasive European water chestnut in the Chautauqua Lake Outlet. Leenders and volunteers documented the expansion of a newer invasive macro algae, starry stonewort, in Ashville Bay and off Prendergast Point and also led experiments with multiple methods of removing these algae colonies. CWC partnered with the City of Jamestown and Tactical Tree Solutions to address long-neglected sections of the Chadakoin River through industrial and residential eastside Jamestown neighborhoods by removing decades-old accumulations of dead trees and other debris that can lead to flooding and poses a threat to important public infrastructure, the foundations of buildings and walls, and residential properties. Additional work took place on behalf of the Town of Poland to remove dangerous debris dams in Conewango Creek.
Our work on the Chadakoin alerted us to major infestations of tree-of-heaven, a land-based invasive plant which is also a preferred host of the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive insect that poses a major threat to grape vineyards and fruit trees should it get a foothold and expand in our region. CWC once again took the lead on behalf of the City of Jamestown to start a multi-year effort to kill and control this infestation along the Chadakoin with the help of Arbor Wild Environmental. In addition to this conservation and enhancement work, CWC staff, crews from the Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (WNY PRISM), and numerous preserve stewards and other volunteers maintained and monitored 1,061 acres of nature preserves at 32 sites, with eight preserves improved and managed for regular public recreational use.
Throughout 2022, CWC staff has been working with GIS specialist Jonathan Townsend, county officials, and other regional stakeholders on an analysis to identify the areas with the highest conservation value our across our county. This large-scale conservation model will identify areas most in need of protection to ensure that our water quality remains high, our natural areas remain healthy, and our region continues to be a sustainable and equitable climate-change “oasis” for generations to come.
CWC has had a busy and successful impactful 2022 thanks to the collective support from over 800 families, individuals, businesses and partnerships with area foundations, Chautauqua County, Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, City of Jamestown and several towns and villages, private landowners and local service providers. We are very grateful to all our volunteers, contributors, grantors, and partners who make this conservation work possible!
For 2023, CWC is working to conserve over 250 acres of forest, meadow, wetlands, and shorelands at seven or more sites across the region, engage landowners to conserve and enhance habitat on their properties, partner with community groups to make our preserves more accessible and enjoyable to those with physical limitations, and planning and implementing several water quality and ecological enhancement projects on public and private lands and creeks with various agency, organizational partners and landowners.
(photo of community volunteers helping to plant a rain garden by Carol Markham)