While the politicians, the lake organizations and property owners are fussing over fine points and slinging mud at each other, the fishermen are taking action. Scientific studies have revealed significant losses of plant biomass after 388 acres in Chautauqua Lake’s south basin were treated with herbicides last spring. Despite what should urge caution toward additional herbicide applications this year, lakeside communities plan to move forward with permit applications to continue destroying aquatic plants and threatening weed beds that are essential to Chautauqua Lake’s renowned fishery and to the entire Allegheny watershed.
Fishermen are on the lake all the time. They know it well. They know the contours of the shoreline, the inlets and rivulets, the weedy areas and the deep holes. They know the lake in sunshine and in shadow, in the misty dawn and the calm at dusk. They know the winds, the storm patterns, and the delicate changes of season.
They know that the bottom is barren in a large section of the south basin because they see it on their sonar and with their eyes. They don’t need to wait until the politicians deem a study credible to know that if you want to catch fish through the ice this winter, you’ll be luckier north of Long Point. They don’t need an Op-Ed in the newspaper to find their boats covered with blue-green algae after an afternoon of angling, or to know that stuff is hard to get off a hull.
Here, they’re tired of waiting for the rest of us to catch up, and have started a petition to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation asking for relief. They are asking the DEC to put the brakes on and to stop broad based applications of herbicides this year. They want to maintain the healthy ecology of the lake to ensure the fish are protected, which helps the water, which helps the insects, which helps the birds, the bats, and all of us people.
Petition for protection of Chautauqua Lake fisheries
I request New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to exercise its sole authority to better protect the century old national legacy of muskie & multi-species fisheries in Chautauqua Lake and to not permit extensive applications of chemical herbicides which destroy
critical submerged offshore habitat.
I endorse the following fishery safety protections from herbicides:
- Impose Strict Controls to protect all Submerged Milfoil & Curly LeafPondweed in greater than 6’ lake depths
- No Applications before June 24
- No Liquid Use (Granular Only)
- No Navigation Channel Use
- Spot Herbicide Use Only.