FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2012
SCHUMER TO ARMY CORPS: ALLOW CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY TO USE REMAINING FED FUNDS TO DEVELOP PLAN TO COMBAT WEED INFESTATION IN CHAUTAUQUA LAKE – SENATOR SAYS FEDS SHOULD ALLOW FLEXIBLE USE OF EXISTING PROJECT FUNDS
Schumer Urges U.S. Army Corps to Work Hand-In-Glove With Chautauqua County Officials To Map Effective Plan Forward, Allow Flexible Use of Remaining Project Funds, in Fighting Relentless Weed
Despite Efforts to Curtail their Spread, Resilient Weeds Continue to Invade Chautauqua, Jeopardizing Recreational Boating, Tourism and Property Values
Schumer: Chautauqua Officials Need Maximum USACE Flexibility & Collaboration to Preserve Lake’s Beauty and Local Property Values
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to collaborate closely with Chautauqua County officials as they map out the most productive and effective use of existing project funding in their continued effort to fight against the Eurasian milfoil that has infested Chautauqua Lake. The milfoil invasion in Chautauqua Lake has caused serious environmental problems, has negatively impacted recreational boating, swimming and angling, and has jeopardized local property value, tourism and the local economy.
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 this lake, and how best to combat them. Approximately $65,000 of that USACE funding is still available for use towards the Chautauqua Lake project. In a personal letter, Schumer is urging 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 to urge that the remaining aquatic plant control funds be used in the most flexible and effective manner in further fighting the Eurasian milfoil.
“The Eurasian milfoil is threatening to choke off property values, undermine tourism and cause havoc among boaters and anglers in Chautauqua Lake, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to give the lake and local officials a fighting chance against these relentless weeds,” said Schumer. “That is why I’m urging the Army Corps to work hand-in-glove with the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission and other local officials in order to ensure that the research and study of the Eurasian milfoil and the previously-developed combat plan are used effectively and put into action. Part of this means that we need USACE to be flexible in how the officials involved in the Chautauqua Lake project utilize the remainder of existing project funding towards eradicating the milfoil, so that this magnificent lake can remain the gem of Chautauqua County.”
Schumer’s call on USACE marks his most recent effort over the course of several years to control the Eurasian milfoil invasion in Chautauqua Lake. After the issue gained attention in 2007, Schumer called on the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the lake in 2008, in order to preserve the Chautauqua Lake’s status as a tourist destination and the important role it plays in local property value. Schumer also sent a letter urging the Army Corps of Engineers that year to allocate money for invasive species remediation on Chautauqua Lake, which led to $49,000 being secured that year.
In 2009, Schumer secured an additional $78,000 for a three-year study of the milfoil weeds invading Chautauqua Lake, which included testing and reporting, as well as approval of the study. This initial work was also aimed at determining the next step in fighting this invasive species, including determining what other studies would be needed to move forward. Since then, a cost-share has been finalized between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chautauqua County to continue the efforts. However, due to limited funds at both the state and county level, the weed eradication efforts have not yet moved forward, because the price tag on the part of USACE and Chautauqua County is too high. However, there is still approximately $65,000 remaining from the funding that Schumer previously secured, and the senator is urging USACE to work closely with local officials to map out an effective and flexible action plan in the usage of those funds.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to USACE appears below:
Major General Merdith W.B. Temple
Acting Chief of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Dear Major General Temple:
I write today in regards to the funding available for Aquatic Plant Control, specifically control of the Eurasian milfoil in Chautauqua Lake. I understand that there is funding available that can be used for a demonstration project, and I urge you to work closely with the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission to ensure that those funds are put to a productive use.
As you know I have been calling for a solution to the issue of invasive weeds in Chautauqua Lake since 2007. Chautauqua Lake plays an important role in the economy and history of Chautauqua County, and we must do everything we can to keep it clean, safe and beautiful.
I am pleased that through funding previously secured we have already identified the issues facing the lake and mapped out an approach for dealing with the weeds. I now urge you to move quickly to the next step - developing and implementing a plan of action.
As you work towards a long-term solution to the issues facing the Lake, I urge you to work collaboratively with the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission and the Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator. I hope that you will be as flexible as possible when working with the County, so that both the County’s resources and your resources are used effectively.
I am confident that by working with the County a plan can be developed that will achieve many of the goals we originally laid out in 2007. However, in order to achieve success it is critical that the US Army Corps of Engineers make every effort to ensure that the funds available are used as part of the County’s overall plan.
I appreciate your attention to this issue and your commitment to addressing this important problem for the residents of Chautauqua County.