U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer secured 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.
Schumer had already secured federal funding in 2007 for the study and treatment of the milfoil invasion in Chautauqua Lake, but Wednesday Schumer announced that USACE has agreed to direct remaining funds toward the development of Chautauqua County's Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Management Plant (SAVMP).
Schumer's push for federal cooperation will allow for the Management Plan to chart a clear path forward to combat Eurasian milfoil and the recently found water chestnut in Chautauqua Lake.
Schumer noted this agreement to unleash remaining federal funds is the first of its kind for USACE.
He also said it demonstrates the Corps' dedication to assisting Chautauqua with the invasive species, which have negatively impacted recreational boating, swimming and angling, and has jeopardized local property value, tourism and the local economy.
The Senator said he believes the agreement between USACE and Chautauqua could open new doors to additional funding to combat milfoil and water chestnut in the County.
"The federal government's commitment to help Chautauqua County officials gain access to vital funds and chart a clear path forward to combat the invasive species in Chautauqua Lake is an important step in protecting the property values, tourism, and beauty surrounding the lake," said Schumer. "The first-of-its-kind partnership between Chautauqua County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers illustrates the federal government's commitment to help the County sink the Eurasian milfoil and newly-discovered water chestnut, which threaten to repel boaters, swimmers, anglers, and tourists who come to enjoy Chautauqua Lake. I am glad to announce that the federal government's agreement to allocate $54,000 to chart a plan to eradicate and prevent the presence of these invasive species could open the floodgates to additional funding and federal cooperation down the road."
Chautauqua Lake is of both historical and economic importance to the region, and since the appearance of this invasive weed, Schumer has helped secure approximately $127,000 in federal funding in order to identify the issues facing the lake, and how best to combat them. Approximately $54,000 of that USACE funding is still available for use toward the Chautauqua Lake project, and Schumer had urged USACE to work closely with the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission and other local officials to ensure that those findings from previously funded studies are used adequately and effectively, and that the remaining aquatic plant control funds be used in the most flexible and effective manner in further fighting the Eurasian milfoil. After months of negotiations the Army Corps has finally signed an agreement that will allow the remaining funds to be used in the manner the County had hoped.
"I want to thank Senator Schumer for his tireless efforts to push this project forward. This is further evidence that with clarity of purpose and active partnership important work can be done for the people we are elected to serve. Funding like this is vital to our continued efforts to preserve and maintain Chautauqua Lake, and will allow us to become the model for all of the Northeastern U.S. on how to fight against Eurasian Milfoil, the newly found Water Chestnut, and other invasive species," said County Executive Greg Edwards.
Jeff Diers Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator, said "USACE funding is crucial to the development and future implementation of the submerged aquatic vegetation management plant for Chautauqua Lake. It is even more critical to receive these funds, in-light of the recent discovery of the invasive water chestnut in Chautauqua Lake."
Schumer has been a longtime advocate for Chautauqua Lake and has worked since 2007 to help find federal funds to support efforts to eradicate invasive species from the lake. Over the years a number of efforts have been advanced and have now culminated in the development of the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. By using the remaining federal funds to support the SAVMP a path forward with sensible long-term solutions can finally be developed. In February, Schumer called on USACE to develop a new funding model that would allow the remaining funds to be used for the SAVMP and today's announcement signals that the USACE has agreed to that new funding model and will be an active supporter of the SAVMP.