Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Work Session
Thursday, April 13, 2023
4:30 p.m. at the BWB Building, 201 West 3rd St. Jamestown, NY 14701 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Janis Bowman, Dave Shepherd (via Zoom), Ellen Barnes, Martin Proctor, Don Emhardt, Mike LaTone, Jim Andrews
Directors Absent: Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr.
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator.
Others in Attendance: Lauren Ryan (Secretary to the County Executive and proxy for Paul Wendel, Jr.)
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:32 PM. A quorum of 7 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 3/9/2023 Board Meeting Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 3/9/2023 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was approved unanimously.
III. Financial Report
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes a financial summary report, which is prepared in the same format as agreed upon at the February work session. R. Perry indicated that payments to Members for 2023 grant agreements are in the process of being completed per grant agreements. R. Perry indicated that funds provided to the Alliance by the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation are made in two parts, and that the second payment is expected to be completed in May. R. Perry indicated that differences between 2022 and 2023 financial summary reports are largely the result of timing differences in when funding was received.
B. Erickson indicated his support for generating a P&L statement and Balance Sheet for the Board each quarter.
R. Perry indicated that he also works with Treasurer E. Barnes to check the financial records that are also sent to the Alliance’s bookkeeper.
M. Proctor made a motion that the Alliance generate financial summary reports for each quarter moving forward. The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously.
IV. Alliance Committees
a.) Data Analysis & Research Committees
R. Perry indicated that meeting materials include a draft summary of the March 3, 2023 DAR Committee meeting as well as the response generated by the Committee after it was engaged on February 6, 2023. The question and response were as follows:
Question: Please provide input on the topic of the collection of multiple datasets for the same or similar variable(s) in a natural system, as it relates to lake and/or watershed science (e.g., macrophytes, algae, fish, invertebrates, sediment, and/or water quality/quantity/chemistry, etc.).
Committee Response: The overall response from those on the DAR Committee, based on those that responded, was that when available multiple datasets should be considered given the scope of the work being investigated.
In general scientific data should follow the criteria of FAIR Data Principles (Wilkinson, M.D., et.al, 2016). FAIR Data Principles are defined as Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.
To these tenets the DAR Committee offers these perspectives:
It is important that as a starting point to identify and acquire all existing data sets for Chautauqua Lake. The Alliance currently acts as the clearinghouse for data sets and reports pertinent to Chautauqua Lake and the surrounding watershed and should continue to expand this role. Existing data sets should be organized into a standardized, relational database(s) that can be searched to address specific questions about the Chautauqua Lake ecosystem and to inform management actions within the lake and surrounding watershed. Current data sets are accessible as individual data stores. There is a realization that moving these data stores into a relational database format is an enormous effort, but this should be a point of discussion as efforts move forward. A question was raised around the audience for these data sets and how these comparisons would be used. I believe that currently, these comparisons are used by the Alliance Board in their decision-making process. Beyond the idea of warehousing of pertinent data, the analysis and comparison of standard methodologies and findings is an important consideration. In the sciences, especially ecology/environmental disciplines, it is common to explore multiple lines of evidence from different perspectives in order to understand complex systems as completely as possible. Collaboration and data sharing between researchers is an important element of sound scientific investigation. These data, regardless of protocol followed, need to be well-documented and referenced and may in fact not be able to be directly comparable. In many cases a variety of protocols for data collection have been established and used. These established protocols should be adhered to and any variation should be noted, including collection methods and/or instrumentation. It is critical to for the Alliance Board to understand that there is no single method for a collecting data around any particular parameter because of the scope of the questions that researchers are asking as well as the overall variability of the dynamics of the ecosystem. being investigated, leads to the need for multiple approaches. Ultimately what is most important is a high level of transparency and communication around the work being shared. This will foster the level of communication between all stakeholders that is needed to address the questions being investigated.
Additional Reference: Wilkinson, M.D., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I.J., Appleton, G., Axton, M., Baak, A., Blomberg, N., Boiten, J.W., da Silva Santos, L.B., Bourne, P.E. and Bouwman, J., 2016. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific data, 3(1), pp.1-9.
B. Erickson indicated that discussions about the role of the DAR are continuing, and that D. Shepherd is continuing to work as Board liaison to the Committee. B. Erickson indicated that unfortunately a meeting scheduled with Committee Chair Mike Jabot was not able to take place, and that he was not entirely satisfied with the current response offered by the DAR.
D. Shepherd indicated that the DAR response recommends looking at potentially creating a relational database of relevant lake data. D. Shepherd indicated he believes it may be appropriate to ask the DAR questions including: How can we best approach creating a relational database? What time and effort would be necessary to do so? What would a relational database do for the Alliance? Could such a task could be performed by staff or an outside consultant?
D. Shepherd made a motion to engage the DAR with the questions: How can we best approach creating a relational database? What time and effort would be necessary to do so? What would a relational database do for the Alliance? Could such a task could be performed by staff or an outside consultant? The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously.
J. Bowman indicated that the Board’s motion passed at the 3/9/23 public meeting authorized that the DAR Committee can self-initiate work when data are released.
D. Shepherd indicated that based on discussion since then, it seems to make sense to first talk to M. Jabot and the committee about that change to procedure.
b.) Lake Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that the meeting materials include the Letter of Notification and maps dated March 29, 2023, sent by the CLP and municipalities seeking herbicide permits per NYSDEC regulations. R. Perry thanked M. LaTone for providing the letter for the Board’s information. R. Perry indicated that the Lake Management Committee is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. on April 18, 2023 at The Lawson Center in Bemus Point, NY.
c.) Watershed Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that staff are currently in the process of scheduling a Watershed Management Committee meeting to discuss upcoming and ongoing projects. R. Perry indicated that now is a good time to discuss potential 2023 New York State Consolidated Funding Applications.
V. Chautauqua Lake Discussion
R. Perry shared information with the board regarding recent Chautauqua Lake data and discussed availability, comparability, and context.
J. Bowman indicated surveys performed by North Carolina State University and SUNY Oneonta may seem similar and both use DEC rake-toss methods, however, there is a biomass calculation used by SUNY Oneonta that results in more quantitative vs. qualitative survey information. J. Bowman indicated that there are differences between the surveys.
M. LaTone indicated he believes that the DEC did not utilize survey data from either group in herbicide permit decision-making in 2022. M. LaTone indicated that a visual inspection prior to treatment was primarily used to make decisions. M. LaTone indicated that he has asked that T. West help by collecting underwater video footage during these visual inspections in 2023.
J. Bowman indicated that it is important to distinguish survey maps that represent frequency vs. density of plants.
M. LaTone indicated he would like to reassess the purpose of funding of plant surveys if they are not used by DEC during the herbicide permit process.
B. Erickson indicated that the surveys may be important if they can identify trends in plant growth.
D. Shepherd indicated this is an important discussion, and indicated that the groups ultimately making management decisions are Alliance Members. D. Shepherd indicated that the Alliance Board allocates funding among its Members, who can then use lake data to inform their management actions. D. Shepherd indicated that communicating data to Members is important, and that it is also important to understand if this information is being used by the DEC.
R. Perry indicated that with regards to qualitative vs. quantitative distinctions, both surveys assign relative abundances in the field, and that neither survey involves measuring plant biomass in the field.
M. LaTone indicated that neither group is using a scale to weigh plants in the field.
J. Bowman indicated that there are biomass data provided by SUNY Oneonta.
R. Perry indicated that the biomass data is generated by taking a relative abundance rating from a rake and using a formula from Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists to estimate biomass.
J. Bowman indicated that some conversations with the DEC indicate that biomass data may be useful in decision making. J. Bowman indicated that in specific areas of the lake it may be important to have biomass estimates.
R. Perry indicated that if it was deemed useful, rake-toss data points gathered by North Carolina State University could be converted into biomass estimates using the Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologist’s formula. R. Perry indicated this is a good example of how raw data can be post-processed as necessary. R. Perry indicated that in his opinion, plant conditions reported in 2022 by both research groups appeared to be similar.
R. Perry shared information with the board regarding how data may be used to inform management planning. R. Perry indicated that different stakeholders may find value in different datasets depending on their management goals.
J. Bowman indicated that it would be interesting to overlay management actions onto maps of plant communities.
R. Perry indicated that T. West and J. Young performed biovolume and underwater video surveys in the South basin on April 4, 2023.
VI. 2023 Alliance Local Grant Program
a.) Status of Awards Made To Date for 2023
R. Perry summarized the status of the 2023 awards approved by the Alliance Board to date.
b.) 2023 Hultquist Foundation Grant Request Update
J. Andrews made a motion to pass through the $100,000 grant from the Hultquist Foundation for 2023 herbicide treatments to the Chautauqua Lake Partnership, contingent on 2023 NYSDEC permits. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously with abstention by M. LaTone.
c.) 2023 County Occupancy Tax Funding Update
E. Barnes made a motion to award $90,000 in County Occupancy Tax funds to the Chautauqua Lake Association for general operations. The motion was seconded by J. Bowman and was passed unanimously with abstentions by B. Erickson and D. Emhardt.
M. LaTone made a motion to award $116,668 in County Occupancy Tax funds to restore the programs approved in the 2023 Alliance Consolidated Foundation Grant Request, and to hold the remaining $8,332 until needs are identified. The motion was seconded by M. Proctor and was passed unanimously. The new awards are as shown in the table below.
|Town of Chautauqua: Mobitrac Operations||$8,028|
|Chautauqua Lake Association: 2023 All-Inclusive Operational Support||$27,582|
|Chautauqua Lake Partnership on behalf of Town of Ellery, Town of Ellicott, Town of North Harmony, Town of Busti, Village of Bemus Point, Village of Celoron, and Village of Lakewood: Herbicide Treatments for Curly Leaf Pondweed and/or Eurasian Watermilfoil (Combined grant up to amount shown, contingent on 2023 NYSDEC permits)||$17,731|
|Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy: 2023 Chautauqua Lake Aquatic Invasive Species Early Detection Volunteer Taskforce||$1,970|
|Chautauqua Lake Association: 2023 Watercraft Steward Support||$2,266|
|Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy: Watershed Technical Assistance and Stormwater Management Program||$6,255|
|Chautauqua Lake Partnership: Lake Surveys||$2,758|
|Chautauqua Lake Partnership: 5 Year Plan for Lake Management of Herbicides||$2,167|
|Mobitrac Joint Operations Support Fund||$5,911|
|Chautauqua Lake Association: 2023 Capital Project Support||$42,000|
D. Shepherd indicated that the Holmberg Foundation will meet soon to determine its grant awards.
a.) 2023 Renewal of the County’s Chautauqua Lake MOU – Board email vote 3/15/23
R. Perry indicated that a Board vote was taken via email on March 15, 2023, authorizing him to sign a two-year renewal of the County’s Chautauqua Lake Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). R. Perry indicated that he signed the agreement.
b.) Alliance Board of Directors Election and Annual Meeting Update
R. Perry indicated that two nominees have been received for the Board municipal seat. R. Perry indicated that no nominees have been received for the at-large seat. R. Perry indicated that the deadline for nominations is May 4, 2023.
c.) 2023 Chautauqua Lake Conference (6/17/23) – invitation to Executive Director to speak
R. Perry indicated that he has been invited by Chautauqua Institution to speak at the upcoming Lake Conference.
d.) County ARPA opportunity for new Chautauqua Lake Equipment
R. Perry indicated that there is an opportunity being pursued to use County ARPA funds to potentially purchase a harvester, transport, trailer, and forklift for lake maintenance, and a research vessel to support The Jefferson Project.
E. Barnes asked if there is any discussion about using ARPA funds for dredging.
D. Emhardt indicated that a major obstacle is the rising equipment prices.
R. Perry thanked the County for pursuing this opportunity for new equipment.
B. Erickson indicated his continued support for implementing a lake user fee to fund work moving forward.
M. LaTone and E. Barnes indicated they agreed with B. Erickson.
B. Erickson indicated that he appreciates the County and P. Wendel’s work in support of the lake.
J. Bowman made a motion to adjourn the April 13, 2023 Board meeting. The motion was seconded by M. Proctor and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:48 PM.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 4/13/23 Meeting Minutes on 5/11/23.