Lake Erie Management Commission Makes Progress Despite ‘Odd Year’

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JAMESTOWN — Despite an “odd year” because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the The Lake Erie Management Commission participated in some projects to enhance use of Lake Erie.

The LEMC collaborates with Northern Chautauqua County municipalities and water resource-related organizations to improve water quality and public access to Lake Erie.

Its membership is composed of northern Chautauqua County Legislators; local government, Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, water and natural resource organization representatives; and members of the public.

“The LEMC works quietly to advance public infrastructure projects and to support education and outreach efforts,” said LEMC Chairman Zen Olow. “We participate in activities like the City of Dunkirk’s Great Lakes Experience event and the Dunkirk Observer’s Outdoor Show. One of my personal favorites is the annual Chautauqua County Federation of Sportsman’s Fishing Essay Contest, which has helped to introduce hundreds of middle-school students to the joy of fishing.”

With funding from Chautauqua County’s 2 percent Occupancy Tax for Lakes and Waterways, the LEMC has supported municipal planning efforts such as the City of Dunkirk’s Comprehensive Plan update and the Northern Chautauqua County Waterfront Revitalization Program.

“2020 was an odd year since many of our public outreach activities were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Dave McCoy, Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator. “However, we were still able to assist with many water quality and public access improvement projects.”

In 2020, the LEMC assisted with the installation of handicapped kayak launches in Ripley, Westfield, Dunkirk and Hanover. It also helped with the installation of handicapped accessible comfort and handwashing facilities at the Greystone Nature Preserve in Fredonia and upgraded fish grinders at Dunkirk Harbor and at the Town of Hanover Boat Launch for the disposal of fish carcasses.

In addition, the LEMC has collaborated with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the City of Dunkirk to label storm drains that flow into Lake Erie.

“Programs like this have been effective in reducing the number of accidental and willful illicit contaminant discharges into our waterways,” said Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy Conservationist Whitney Gleason. “Our volunteers will be out installing signs and markers on stormdrains in Dunkirk and other communities this summer.”

“The LEMC is a unique and effective organization,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. “The LEMC is a strong partner with our efforts to keep Barcelona, Dunkirk and Cattaraugus Creek Harbors fully functional and to promote the stewardship of our Lake Erie water resources so they will be clean and accessible for future generations.”

For more information, please call Dave McCoy at (716) 661-8915.


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