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Historic Chautauqua Lake ferry on shore for repairs, should be running again soon

By David Figura | dfigura@nyup.com | Posted June 13, 2018 at 01:22 PM | Updated June 13, 2018 at 01:24 PM
David Figura | dfigura@nyup.com
Bemus Point, N.Y. -- One of the nation's oldest cable ferries, located on Chautauqua Lake in Western N.Y., is currently up on skids, undergoing much-needed repairs.
However, officials from the Sea Lion Project Ltd., the all-volunteer group dedicated to maintaining and keeping the Bemus Point-Stowe Ferry running, say the work should be complete by the end of July, said Chris Flanders, a spokesperson for the group.
David Figura | dfigura@nyup.com
When it first built by local resident Thomas Bemus in 1811, the ferry linked the east and west shorelines of Chautauqua Lake at the lake's narrowest point.
It was initially a hand-powered, a small raft with ropes, used primarily for agricultural purposes, moving wagons, cattle and sheep between the two shores. Otherwise, it was a 20-mile trip around the lake.
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
 In time, various versions of the ferry were built, powered by horses, steam power, automobile engines -- and most recently, a diesel engine and paddle wheels.  
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
The current ferry is essentially a flat barge measuring 34 by 64 feet with small cupolas on either end.
The need for a ferry on the lake was decreased in 1986 with the construction of bridge for Route 86 that spans the lake a short distance away. 
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
  The need for a ferry on the lake was decreased in 1986 with the construction of bridge for Route 86 that spans the lake a short distance away. However, the ferry holds a special place in the hearts and minds of those who grew around the lake, and those who frequent its waters each summer.
"I'm 70 now. Growing up here, it was the biggest deal -- a quick way to get across the lake," Flanders said. "Weddings have been held on it, it was a tradition to use it to cross the lake once you first got your driver's license. All sorts of things."
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
The trip from one shore to the other takes about 15 minutes on the ferry. The craft travels the same exact route each time, connected to the two shores by two cables.  It can carry up to nine cars, and frequently transports bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
At one time, the craft was maintained by state Highway Department, with those using it paying $1 for a one-way trip. Now, those who use it simply give a donation, Flanders said. 
Sea Lion Project Ltd.
The ferry was inspected by state officials earlier this spring and it was deemed unsafe, requiring the replacement of several steel beams above the craft's steel hull and below the wooden decking. Volunteers have been working on most of the repairs.
"The only person we're hiring is the marine welder," Flanders said.
David Figura | dfigura@nyup.com
  Sea Lion Project Ltd. is seeking donations to cover the current repair costs ($50,000), but expects the craft's entire steel hull will have to be replaced in the future -- an estimated $300,000 job.
To follow along as the work progresses and to learn more history about the ferry's service on Chautauqua Lake since 1811, Sea Lion Project has two Facebook pages: "The Historic Bemus Point-Stow Ferry" and "Friends and Fans of the Bemus-Point Stow Ferry."
Donations can be sent to the Bemus Point/Stow Ferry, PO Box 339, Bemus Point, NY 14712.  There's also a Go Fund Me Page, "Save the Bemus Point-Stowe Ferry."

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Herbicide Treatment On Chautauqua Lake To Begin June 11

The Post-Journal

Following the completion of impact statements and requirements from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, dates of herbicide application on Chautauqua Lake have been scheduled, the Chautauqua Lake Partnership announced Saturday.
Ellery served as the lead agency in hopes of getting herbicide use as an options for several towns and villages and was required to facilitate a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
"Targeted use of herbicides now rejoins weed harvesting in the Chautauqua Lake weed management toolkit as in other parts of New York state and the country after what has effectively been a 25-year absence," the CLP said in a statement.
Following the completion of the SEIS, the state DEC issued permits for herbicide use on 191 acres of the lake, covering eight of the 11 proposed treatment areas. Locations not approved, according to the partnership, include near Bemus Point, between the ferry landing and Interstate 86 bridge; Point Stockholm/Greenhurst; and Stow, between Tom's Point wetlands and the I-86 bridge.
The CLP said herbicide treatment will take place Monday, June 11, and Tuesday, June 12.
Final notifications, including areas to be treated and water use restrictions, will be distributed by letter to property owners around the lake and downstream and others specified in the permits, through media notices and sign postings at access points.
In its statement, the CLP said, "Herbicides were used by the DEC and the Chautauqua Lake Association in conjunction with CLA weed harvesting to successfully manage invasive weeds in Chautauqua Lake from the mid to late 1900s. A DEC-required Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement supportive of such treatments, the only such requirement in the state, was completed in 1990.
"Due to "onerous permit conditions and threats of lawsuits by local opponents the CLA ceased treatments in 1992."
A limited, 70-acre Burtis Bay treatment by the town of Ellicott and supported by the CLP, was successfully completed in 2002. However, the partnership said DEC "then required an update to the 1990 SEIS before further permits would be granted."
The CLP supported a 30-acre herbicide treatment by Ellery and Bemus Point, a DEC supervised Data Collection Project, in three areas of Bemus Bay in June 2017. No weed harvesting was required in the Bay after that treatment.
"Project results, including the effectiveness of invasive weed control and the success of potential impact mitigations, were reported to the DEC for use in the 2018 SEIS," the CLP said in its statement.
The Draft SEIS was issued by Ellery on Feb. 8 of this year. Copies of the Draft SEIS and all Appendices were provided to the DEC, the villages of Lakewood, Celoron and Bemus Point, and the towns of Busti, Ellicott and North Harmony, Chautauqua County and 45 other agencies and organizations. A public hearing was held on March 1 to obtain verbal comments and written comments were accepted through March 16.
More than 800 comments from agencies, organizations and individuals were addressed in the Final SEIS issued by Ellery on April 5. The State Environmental Quality Review Act process was completed April 17; the total cost exceeded $250,000.
On a parallel path to SEIS development and SEQRA completion, nine permit applications for herbicide treatment along eleven Chautauqua Lake shoreline communities were submitted to the DEC by the towns of Ellery, Ellicott, Busti and North Harmony and the village of Celoron on March 16. Letters describing treatment plans were sent to over 2000 shoreline property owners with only 10 letters of objection returned to the DEC.
The partnership said permits have been issued and "targeted herbicide treatments will be completed in the eight permitted treatment areas on June 11 and June 12 to the extent individual and municipality funding is available."

For More Information On Chautauqua Lake Real Estate and Living Visit: www.chautauqualakehomes.com

PGA event returns to Chau­tauqua County in July

By Mark Goshgarian  |  May 21, 2018 @6:55 PM
CLYMER, N.Y. — Community partners announced Monday the return of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, or LECOM Health Challenge.
The annual event is on the PGA's Web.com Tour, and will take place at Peek'n Peak Resort in Clymer this summer. LECOM is now in its third year of a four-year deal.
The event is once again expected to draw thousands of visitors, and will be broadcast on the Golf Channel. Golfers from across the nation will take part in what's known as ‘the path to the PGA,’ vying for a piece of a $600,000 purse, with $108,000 awarded to the winner.
"There's something about certain golf courses that seem to produce dramatic finishes, and so far we are two for two here at the Peek. I mean it's been incredible,” said Bo DeHuff, PGA Tour director.
The event runs July 2-8, with the first round of competition teeing off on July 5.

PGA event returns to Chautauqua County in July

By Mark Goshgarian  |  May 21, 2018 @6:55 PM

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