Despite fears late last week, the plants thought to be water chestnuts in Dunkirk harbor have been identified as floating leaf pond weed, a non-invasive species.
County Executive Greg Edwards said, "Once we received information, we were able to move aggressively. The next day, Watershed Coordinator Jeff Diers physically traveled to Dunkirk. We had on-point professional expertise. Chautauqua County is the only county in New York state to have a watershed coordinator. The good news was that it was floating leaf pond weed. ... That is good news for all of Chautauqua County."
According to Diers, "On Monday, New York DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) Fisheries Unit out of Dunkirk provided a boat and staff to search Dunkirk harbor. We did not find water chestnuts."
Diers, who grew up in Chautauqua County and has a Master's degree in Environmental Science, said that at the present time Chautauqua Lake is the only lake in the county in which water chestnut growth has been confirmed. He said it is important for the public to be on the lookout for the plant. In addition, he said his job will be to increase public awareness of the plant.
Edwards said the good news that the public has a heightened awareness. Since sportsmen often travel to more than one lake, he urged them to do all they can to contain the plants in Chautauqua Lake. He reminded boaters of the normal good practices: emptying the bilge water, cleaning the bottom of the boat, and making sure trailers don't catch plants.
If water chestnuts are spotted, residents are asked to call the county's hotline numbers: North county: 363-4499; Mayville: 753-4499; or south county: 661-7499.
For now, the county can concentrate on Chautauqua Lake and try to prevent spread of the invasive plant. It was announce on Wednesday that U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer has secured a commitment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to unlock $54,000 in federal funds to combat the invasive species Eurasian milfoil and water chestnut in Chautauqua Lake.