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Chautauqua Lake rally draws crowd in Bemus Point
September 2, 2017

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Residents were given a plethora of information regarding Chautauqua Lake during the fourth annual lake rally on Saturday.

The event was held at The Village Casino, and the top floor was filled with area residents, visitors and officials interested in the details of what has and will happen to Chautauqua Lake.

Hosted by the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance and the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development, the event gave visitors a chance to view displays from area organizations related to the lake such as the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.

"We've done a lot, and we've got a lot more to do," said County Executive Vince Horrigan. "We've also had some serious discussion about lake levels. We have a project under way to look carefully at the lake level of Chautauqua."

State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, said the state of New York has 3,300 lakes and they are one of the greatest natural resources, including Chautauqua Lake.

"That's why we work so hard in a cooperative way with Chautauqua County in the leadership of Vince Horrigan, and the county legislature, on the state level and on the federal level with our representatives to ensure the health of the lake," Young said. "We have problems with algae and weeds all over New York state, and that why we have to be so vigilant."

She said it is important to continue to secure state funds, which she has been able to do over the past several years for lakes and tributaries. There is a lot more to do, she said, but she and many others are committed to continue to work on the issues.

Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, said he grew up on the lake and understands its importance to the area. He said it is the responsibility of everyone to make sure the value of the lake is maximized and that the quality of the lake is advanced as much as possible.

"Until a few weeks ago, I was celebrating the quality of the lake," Goodell said. "The water in our area was clear, the weeds were manageable and I was hoping that we were having a lake rally then."

However, recently, the area had heavy rain and the algae bloom followed, he said. While the bloom isn't encouraging, Goodell said he places his hope in the variety of organizations and people who are dedicating time and effort to the cause of increasing the quality of the lake.

Several informational presentations were given, including a presentation by Dave McCoy, Chautauqua County watershed coordinator, Camp Onyahsa and others.

The alliance is the project facilitator of nine active projects worth $2.4 million located all across the area. Of the fund, $1.6 million have been grant funds from New York state and $750,000 from local matching funds, according to McCoy.

George Borrello, Lake Erie Management Commission chairman and county legislator, said the rally allowed a variety of people to come together and share information on the lake.

"At the end of the day, Chautauqua Lake is an incredibly important economic driver for our county. Even though it's 1 percent of the landmass, it supplies 26 percent of the property taxes in Chautauqua County," he said. "Making sure Chautauqua Lake is healthy for the long term is a critical component of so many levels of government in Chautauqua County."

Borrello said he was glad to see the involvement of many different individuals and groups.

"You'll see here represented several community groups, the county, the state, the federal government, private organizations, nonprofits, companies, engineering firms and planning firms that deal with in water based infrastructure - when you bring all these people into one room and start talking about our challenges and ideas, good things come out of it," he said.

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