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DEC allows Chautauqua Lake use of herbicides

BEMUS POINT — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued revised permits to the Chautauqua Lake Partnership to apply herbicides in Chautauqua Lake to combat overgrown vegetation.

Jim Wehrfritz, Chautauqua Lake Partnership vice president, explained at a “lake rally” Saturday morning in Bemus Point what the permits allow CLP to do in the lake. Wehrfritz said the towns and villages involved will have to pass resolutions to approve the use of herbicide “pretty quickly” so that the group can apply herbicides between June 4 and June 8, the designated time frame from the DEC.

“We have resolutions in place in most places and will be in place by early next week in the rest of the locations,” he said. “So (application) can happen in a timely fashion.”

“We’ll be able to pull it off for the towns and villages to the extent that funding is available,” Wehrfritz added.

The revised permits, received Friday, will allow the CLP and the lake management company SOLitude to apply herbicides to 191 acres of the lake. The group had sought permits for 989 acres.

There was some confusion last week about the status of the herbicide permits. The Chautauqua Lake Partnership had applied for nine herbicide application permits for the towns of Ellery, North Harmony, Busti, Ellicott and the village of Celoron. On May 15, the partnership received three permits approving herbicides in about 180 acres of the lake, but word quickly spread last week that the permits had either been rescinded or were being reworked.

CLP officials confirmed that the permits were never rescinded, but were being revised after inaccuracies were found. Wehrfritz said concerns over fish spawning and other plant life being affected by the herbicides caused the permits to be limited in acreage.

Herbicides will be applied in nine locations around the lake, pending proper funding for the project. The partnership has asked the Chautauqua County Legislature for emergency funding for the project.

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, was in attendance Saturday at the lake rally and called the herbicides an “important tool” for ensuring the lake is sustainable.

“The lake is an incredibly valuable asset not just for local residents but as a part of our overall economy,” he said. “So, I think it’s important that we utilize all the tools available to us the maximize the health of the lake.”

He said herbicide treatment in limited areas is useful along with efforts by the Chautauqua Lake Association, the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Soil and Water Conservation District.

“They all play an important role in helping the lake,” Goodell said.

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