Located in the southwest corner of the state, Chautauqua Lake is
approximately 16 miles long, with a maximum width of two miles.
The village of Mayville sits on the northern end and Jamestown lies on
the southern end, with I-86 intersecting the lake on a high elevation
bridge. The lake is owned by the State of New York and lakeshore
ownership includes private, municipal, and state (administered by
NYS OPRHP and NYS DEC).

Ornithological Summary

This site is an important stopover location for migrant birds, particularly
waterfowl. At least 270 species have been documented. Maximum
numbers of selected species that have been documented over the last
20 years include 3,000 Tundra Swans, 1,000 plus Canvasbacks, 800
Redheads, 400 Lesser Scaup, 100 plus Surf Scoters, 120 Long-tailed
Ducks, 650 Buffleheads, 800 Common Goldeneyes, 1,200 Hooded
Mergansers, 600 Common Mergansers, 400 Red-breasted Mergansers,
1,200 Ruddy Ducks, 40 Common Loons, 120 Pied-billed Grebes, 250
Horned Grebes, 4,500 American Coots, 50 Semipalmated Plovers, 200
Killdeer, 110 Lesser Yellowlegs, 80 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 250
Bonaparte?s Gulls, 8,000 Ring-billed Gulls, 3,000 Herring Gulls, 87
Common Terns, and 23 Black Terns. This site has regularly supported
over 1% of the estimated state wintering population of Pied-billed
Grebes.

Conservation Issues

This site is listed in the 2002 State Open Space Conservation Plan
as a priority site under the project name Chautauqua Lake Access,
Shore Lands, and Vistas. Although recreational boaters and fishermen
heavily use Chautauqua Lake, no disturbance problems have been
reported. Pollution, including non-point source agricultural runoff and
recreational boating, could negatively impact this aquatic ecosystem.
Very little land around the lake is in public ownership and only 11%
of the lakeshore habitat remains undeveloped. There are 461 acres of
wetland habitat at the outlet; 210 are owned by the city of Jamestown
and 251 acres, a mercantile zone within the town of Ellicott, are
privately owned. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC)
and the NYS DEC have successfully protected some of the shoreline
habitat. CWC received a North American Wetland Conservation Act
grant in 2004 to acquire and restore 50 acres at southern end. Continued
monitoring of waterfowl on the lake is needed.

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