CASSADAGA - The Cassadaga Lakes Association and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy held their second annual "Paddles Across the Lakes" tour on Oct. 6 at Cassadaga Lakes.
The paddlers launched their kayaks and canoes at the NYSDEC boat launch on Dale Drive and paddled north to the Upper Lake and then south through the Middle Lake and along the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy-Cassadaga Lakes Association Fern Island Wetland Preserve.
The group observed the new preserve sign, which was recently installed by the Lake Association volunteers. This 12.5-acre preserve was established in 2011 with donations from Cassadaga Lakes residents and is jointly managed by both organizations. It is shaped like a thick thumb separating the Middle and Lower Cassadaga Lakes. As identified in its name, this wetland preserve is dominated by various species of ferns and wetland shrubs. It also has various diving ducks and geese and currently has beautiful fall foliage ringing the shore and hillsides above. Also observed was a belted kingfisher, the logo of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy - the bird that "watches over the waters." The group gathered to socialize by a fire and enjoy refreshments at the lakefront home of CLA President Dennis Collins.
Diane Clark paddles by the sign for the Paddles Across the Lakes tour on Oct. 6
The CWC also owns the Mary Straight Bird Sanctuary on the north side of Dale Drive across the road from Lower Cassadaga Lake. This 5.8-acre site consists almost entirely of shrub swamp with some open water. Button bush, alders and dogwoods are some shrubs that dominate this wet site. It is excellent amphibian habitat and bird habitat. It was donated to the CWC in memory of Mary Straight who wanted it to always remain "for the birds."
The Cassadaga Lakes Association and Conservancy encourage paddlers to visit this lake and other waterways to enjoy the foli-age and migrating waterfowl this fall. Bring a bird book and binoculars to help you identify the birds you see. Bring a friend, and always wear a life jacket and appropriate clothing. Keep a dry change of warm clothes in your vehicle - just in case. Colder waters make hypothermia a serious concern.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and Cassadaga Lakes Association are member-supported organizations. These organizations are working jointly to conserve important wetlands feeding and filtering waters for healthy Cassadaga Lakes. The mission of the Chautauqua Watershed Con-servancy is to preserve and enhance the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. It has conserved 688 acres of lands across Chautauqua County and works directly with landowners on how they can landscape and conserve their lands to pursue its mission.
Landowners interested in learning more about conserving watershed lands or landscaping for water quality protection are urged to contact the Conservancy at 664-2166 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public is invited to peruse watershed care information, make a donation and sign up for e-news at www.chautauquawatershed.org. You can also stay up-to-date with both organizations on Facebook.
For more info on the Cassadaga Lakes Association contact Dennis Collins at Collinsd@netsync.net.