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Mirror, Mirror…



Our wonderful Chautauqua Lake this autumn…her surface, like glass, reflecting the stunningly vibrant and beautiful fall colors. What a spectacular sight! Reds, oranges, yellows, and greens all dancing and shimmering on her surface, swaying and drifting in concert with the waves and wind.


As we are mesmerized by her beauty, we are finding ourselves lost looking at her reflection. Looks can be deceiving. Her beautiful outward appearance is masking what is truly happening beneath her surface, and we are desperately trying to find answers to questions about her health and well-being when these answers have been staring back at us all the time…in the form of excessive plant growth and harmful algae blooms.


When are we going to realize that we as a community are the reflection of the health of our lake? What we do in our daily lives in our home and around our yards has a profound impact on the quality and integrity of the water that we drink, swim, and fish in. Instead of pointing fingers and adhering band-aids to fix these problems, it is time to take a step back, regroup, and honestly ask ourselves what we can do to improve our lake’s health instead of always shedding that responsibility onto someone or something else.


Our Chautauqua Lake mirror is not cruel – she’s only truthful. She is reflecting life and her health exactly how it is. No lens, no filter, just at face value. Her overabundant plant growth and algae are a grim reminder of the truth she is so desperately trying to show us. We cannot continue to ignore her cries for help, and we can’t keep pretending that these temporary band-aids are going to magically fix everything.


Our life is a mirror. What you put in is what you get out. And that is exactly what we are doing to our Chautauqua Lake. Excessive fertilizers, pollutants, and sediment are what we are putting in and excessive plants, algae and compromised water quality are what we are getting out. So through her reflection, we can grow and change. We must! We can’t change the past, but we can benefit from learning from it. It isn’t always easy or pretty, and we have to understand and commit for the long-term. So why not choose to add daily changes that will only benefit your quality of life and the quality of our lake? Lead with awareness and empathy and from a place of support, and you'll find it will return in the most important ways! And one of the easiest and most effective ways to start is with your own home and yard.


I would love to see our communities come together and work on these issues as a whole instead of finger-pointing, name blaming, and band-aid fixing. It’s time to start, as Michael Jackson so eloquently stated, with “the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could’ve been any clearer. If you want to make the world (including our lakes!) a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”


For more information on how to make these changes and learn more about lake-friendly landscapes and lawncare, contact CWC Conservationist Carol Markham at carol@chautauquawatershed.org or call 716-664-2166 Ext. 2005. Thank you in advance for your willingness and desire to make a change for our Chautauqua Lake!


(photo by Sarah Roberts)

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