Jump to content

Chautauqua Chemical Disaster

Recommended Posts

On Sunday, July 21 the Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal reported “While local officials and “paid experts” are crying from the top of the mountain about the success of this year’s (herbicide) applications in the sections of the lower (south) basin of Chautauqua Lake, anglers still aren’t finding walleye. While the sections of the southern basin aren’t producing, anglers are discovering the northern basin is.”  



The not-so-secret fact is that fishing action in the South Basin is slow or non-existent because most fishermen cannot even find a weed bed “edge” outside of untreated Sherman’s Bay — and with no habitat remaining some fish may still be feeling the effects of toxic shock.  Under 400 acres of herbicide treatments have impacted an estimated 1,800 South Basin acres of normally submerged, deep water weed beds far outside the DEC-approved, herbicide treated target areas have virtually eradicated of ALL weeds (except for a few bottom grasses) out to 12 foot depths — virtually shutting down the majority of prime fishing action.  


To suggest that 2019’s herbicide treatments were “successful” is disingenuous and a gross understatement of the widespread habitat overkill and destruction to the South Basin’s world class fishery that depends on a critical level of non-native weed growth to support offshore game fish populations.  Our well intended State and County officials promised us only isolated, spot herbicide impact limited solely to the greatest nuisance areas.  Recreational boaters are happy, while most fishermen feel betrayed and are shocked at the widespread devastation of key habitat so critical to several fish species!  Will these same State and County officials ever acknowledge this widespread destruction at the #1 Rated inland sport fishery in New York State?  When will our “lake managers” finally seek a far better balance of In-Lake interests as their highest lake priority, and confine herbicide impact solely to permitted areas near shore without needing humble fishermen to remind them?


Unconfined and out-of-control herbicide destruction of deep water, unpermitted aquatic weed areas due to the following:


1.  Opting to use cheaper Liquid chemicals when Granular forms with far less “wind drift” potential are readily available.


2.  Failure of “lake managers” to see that a big windy lake carries a high risk of drift that does not exist in small lakes and ponds, and that 3rd Party Enforcement (not mere “Observation”) is of critical quality control importance to the lake.


3. Failure of decision makers to approve & use Triclopyr (Renovate 3) instead of Endothall (Aquathol K) to insure no damage to many valuable native weeds.


4. Failure to realize that “wind drift” on large lake basins like Chautauqua Lake’s can be 4-5 times as strong a factor compared to its very mild north-to-south natural flow — meaning that when a south wind is blowing on Chautauqua Lake for enough consecutive hours, that a very serious reverse south-to-north herbicide drift potential carries a very high risk to both basins!


5. Failure to understand that it’s not the number of floating dead fish that measures herbicide failure, but rather the required level of fish habitat & fishing activity.  Herbicides dramatically reduce dissolved oxygen that healthy, active fish need.  Some lakes have experienced no fish kills, but very poor fishing from suffocating fish shock for entire seasons when serious lake quality control was lacking.


J. Regis Thompson, Executive Director, Chautauqua Fishing Alliance




Sent from my SM-G960U using Lake Erie United Mobile App



Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (one of the signatories of the County Memorandum of Consensus on Weed Strategy) publication “The ‘Shed Sheet Summer 2019” there is an article titled Starve the Algae! Save the Lake!  This article asks individual property owners to maintain their lawn as follows: cut to 3” height, don’t mow let it grow, aerate, avoid fertilizer, HERBICIDES, pestices and naturalize by planting native plants.

Coming from a signatory that supported applying herbicide to 394 acres of the lake and with drift killing basically all the weeds in the south basin this May to me asking homeowners to not apply herbicides is the height of hypocrisy.

The benefits of the herbicides seem to be limited to the wealthy in my opinion.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Chautauqua Lake Truths & Other Misconceptions
The problem with politicians is they take credit for things they did not do and avoid accountability for the messes they make, and Chautauqua County is no exception.  Some local officials and “paid experts” proclaim success, but the real truth is that Chautauqua Lake has had three consecutive years of out-of-control herbicide impact which destroyed aquatic weeds far beyond DEC permitted targets.  With these “unintended consequences” growing exponentially each year our world class fishery is seriously jeopardized.
Mid-May 2019 herbicide applications in the South Basin were the earliest in memory and irresponsibly exposed thousands of spawning and young-of-year game and forage fish to associated toxic shock, with widespread destruction of both native and non-native weeds serving as critical game fish habitat.  Nothing was left behind in these large offshore lake regions except barren lake bottom or grass.  With the end of summer 2019 already here, “unintended consequences” are a serious lake management failure where, once again, no one is held accountable or even accepts responsibility.  How long can our lake tolerate these mistakes?
The Chautauqua Fishing Alliance (CFA) Sonar & GPS research surveys estimate that because of wind drift alone, 2,100 acres of offshore aquatic vegetation in the South Basin was unselectively destroyed this year — more than five times the 388 near-shore acres actually targeted under NYSDEC permits issued.  According to Racine-Johnson Associates, a lake consulting group from Cornell that has been working on our lake for a number of years, confining the unintended impact of liquid herbicides on a big, windy lake the size of either Chautauqua Lake basin is nearly an impossible task, which explains why many large lakes use only granular forms of herbicide (which are less susceptible to wind) in limited targets and all “navigation channels” are cut only with harvesters to insure no wind drift or other “unintended consequence”.
CFA’s national fishery research network in nine northern states reveals that most top fisheries balance harvesting with herbicide use in three very specific ways:

All “Navigation Channels” are cut with mechanical harvesters to insure confinement to well defined permit specifications.

Only Granular herbicides are used to minimize the negative impact of wind drift and its “unintended consequences”.  Liquids are rarely used on big, windy lakes.

Early Season weed control is always managed by harvesting, with mid-to-late June herbicide applications following only after prime fish spawning and key post-spawn periods have passed — especially so at top fisheries.

We wonder how long it will take Local Municipalities and our Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance officials to learn these three critically important conservation lessons by prohibiting funding of liquid herbicides or other untimely operations that do not insure the sensible conservation of submerged deep water habitat?  Isn’t it time we start being guided by lake management science from folks who actually understand the unique and delicate underwater nature of our own living lake?
J. Regis Thompson, Executive Director, Chautauqua Fishing Alliance

Sent from my SM-G960U using Lake Erie United Mobile App

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You must be logged in to view content

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recent Topics

    Hot Topics

  • Create New...