Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Work Session
Thursday, August 17, 2023
4:30 p.m. at the BWB Building, 201 West 3rd St. Jamestown, NY 14701 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson (via Zoom), Ellen Barnes, Don Emhardt, Mike LaTone, Martin Proctor, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr.
Directors Absent: Janis Bowman, JoDee Johnson, Jim Andrews
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator.
Others in Attendance for a Portion of the Meeting: Dan Josephson, Courtney Wigdahl-Perry (Alliance Data Analysis & Research Committee)
I. Call to Order
D. Emhardt called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:34 PM. A quorum of 6 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 7/13/2023 Board Meeting Minutes
M. LaTone made a motion to accept the minutes from the 7/13/23 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously.
III. Discussion with Alliance Data Analysis & Research Committee
R. Perry reviewed the history of the Data Analysis & Research (DAR) Committee, including Committee members, leadership, Board engagement, and Committee responses to the Board. R. Perry indicated that since the Committee was formed in 2020, it has fulfilled every request made by the Alliance Board. R. Perry indicated that there was a Board motion at the 3/9/23 public meeting authorizing that the DAR Committee can self-initiate work when data are released. R. Perry indicated that there had also been Board discussion about collecting at-large questions from the public and channeling those to the DAR for comment and response. R. Perry indicated that DAR Chair Mike Jabot, who recently resigned, was satisfied with the initial organization of the Committee in which it would respond directly to requests from the Board. R. Perry indicated that M. Jabot was a valuable Committee chair and continues to be an important resource, and thanked him for his participation and time with DAR. R. Perry indicated that DAR members Dan Josephson and Courtney Wigdahl-Perry are present for discussion.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that she shared M. Jabot’s position that the initial organization of the DAR was a good format, and that she shares concerns about opening the Committee up to at-large questions, due to time constraints. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that she prefers Committee activities that are more specific and detailed, and that opening up DAR to at-large questions could politicize the Committee. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that she may not be able to participate with DAR if the Committee is asked to respond to large-scale open requests.
D. Josephson indicated that he shared the opinion of C. Wigdahl-Perry, and that he is interested in providing input specifically on scientific research. D. Josephson indicated that he also preferred the original format of the DAR responding to specific Board requests, and indicated that M. Jabot did a good job of serving as a conduit for questions and information during his time as chair.
A discussion followed of the recent changes to the DAR and changes to the way that the Committee is engaged with requests and questions.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that since the Committee was created, the landscape of researchers working on the lake has changed and expanded significantly. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated when she is engaged with a question outside of her field of expertise, she has a network of fellow researchers that can be tapped for knowledge. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that there is good communication between the different research groups working in this area.
D. Josephson indicated that it may be valuable for the Alliance to have short executive summaries for its individual projects that can be shared with stakeholders. D. Josephson indicated that requiring Members to have this as a project deliverable may be useful.
P. Wendel indicated he agreed with D. Josephson on that deliverable, and indicated that there is a public desire for clear communication of the work being done on the lake.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that she has shared updates on her research at a number of events at Chautauqua Institution.
P. Wendel indicated that he would like concise updates on the research being done, not interpretations of research.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that she takes communication of scientific research seriously, and indicated that there will always be challenges related to the pace of science. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that discussions are ongoing between The Jefferson Project and the Institution on communications strategies.
D. Josephson indicated that Alliance-funded work could include a stipulation for communication of results.
M. LaTone asked for clarification on the projects being discussed.
R. Perry indicated that for projects funded through the Alliance Local Grant Program, there is an existing reporting structure in place with the foundations that fund that work which includes certain project deliverables. R. Perry indicated that projects funded through the New York State Consolidated Funding Application have extensive reporting requirements set by the funding agency.
D. Josephson indicated that during his time working at Cornell University, he would author brief summaries of research which were intended for public consumption.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that DAR had produced similar documents, such as an overview of internal loading provided to the Board. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that detailed research reports can be difficult to get through if you are outside of the field.
R. Perry indicated that there are several different types of Alliance communications materials which have already been prepared that may be close to the summary format being discussed.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that one important function of the DAR could be identification of data gaps.
B. Erickson indicated that R. Perry has the skills and experience needed to take detailed research and summarize it for use by a broad audience. B. Erickson indicated that R. Perry could produce a general summary of this information and release it to the Board once or twice a year.
P. Wendel indicated that his discussion is related to the overall role of the Alliance, and ways that the organization can improve its function over time.
D. Josephson indicated that regarding communications, it is important to focus on repetition, clarity, and brevity.
C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that there is an important distinction between research and communications, and that different people would have expertise in those distinct fields. C. Wigdahl-Perry outlined how the peer-review process works, including the tasks involved and the time needed to do a thorough review. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that it may not be a constructive use of DAR time to follow a similar process of scrutinizing consultant-prepared reports or related documents, as some have suggested. C. Wigdahl-Perry indicated that reports issued by consultants are very different from peer-reviewed research, and that consultants rely on their reputations and experience rather than the peer-review process of vetting work.
D. Josephson indicated he agreed that DAR may not be best put to use scrutinizing consultant reports, and indicated that an important function of the Committee can be to identify potential questions that the Alliance could include in its request for proposals.
R. Perry indicated that he will look into the request for a summary of work that was mentioned by B. Erickson.
M. Proctor indicated that R. Perry could consider a pre-season and post-season summary.
R. Perry thanked the DAR members for taking their time to meet with the Board.
D. Josephson and C. Wigdahl-Perry left the meeting.
IV. Financial Report
M. LaTone made a motion to accept the financial report as presented. The motion was seconded by P. Wendel and was approved unanimously.
V. Alliance Committees
a.) Data Analysis & Research Committees
R. Perry indicated that he would be reaching out to the DAR Committee with an update on the day’s discussion, and would convene a meeting.
b.) Lake Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that the Lake Management Committee met on July 19, and that a meeting is scheduled for September 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lawson Center.
c.) Watershed Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that there is no update from the Committee.
d.) Audit Committee
R. Perry indicated he is currently scheduling the Alliance audit with Saxton Kocur and Associates, LLP for sometime this fall. R. Perry summarized the current makeup of the Alliance Audit Committee, and noted that in the past the Committee has convened in October before the audit and return is finalized in November. R. Perry indicated that the current Committee members are: B. Erickson, E. Barnes, J. Andrews, D. Emhardt, and P. Chagnon. After discussion, the Board indicated that the existing Committee membership remain unchanged. R. Perry indicated that there is still one opening for an at-large position on the Committee and asked any Directors with a suggestion to contact him.
VI. 2023 NYS Consolidated Funding Application Update: Alliance-Foundation Match Fund approval via Board email vote finalized 7/28/23
R. Perry thanked the Board for approving the request for match funding, which was finalized via email vote on 7/28/23. R. Perry indicated that the request was for $23,219 in match funding for the Village of Lakewood’s Fairmount Avenue Constructed Wetland Project, which was submitted via the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Improvement Project program. R. Perry indicated that the pledged match funds would be encumbered by the Alliance, and they would be disbursed if the grant application is selected for funding by NYSDEC.
VII. 2023-2024 Alliance Membership Drive Update
R. Perry indicated that he received an email from a Town Supervisor indicating that the town did not intend to renew its membership. Discussion occurred regarding past or current funding requests from the town. M. LaTone indicated that he would speak with the Town Supervisor.
VIII. 2023 Alliance Local Grant Program
a.) Status of Awards Made To Date for 2023
R. Perry provided a summary of all Alliance local grant awards made thus far in 2023. The total amount awarded to Alliance Members to-date in 2023 is $1,490,000.
b.) Discussion of Remaining Funds Available for 2023
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has received four requests for late-season projects that could be considered by the Board for funding from local funds remaining for use in 2023. R. Perry indicated that there is currently $68,332 remaining from the Chautauqua County 2% Occupancy Tax grant, and that those funds are typically spent the year that they are awarded or would likely be subject to return to the County’s Occupancy Tax reserve. R. Perry indicated that there is $40,000 remaining in grant funds from the Holmberg Foundation. The proposals are summarized below.
|Count||Member Name||Project Name/Description||Amount Requested||Notes|
|1||Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC)||Feasibility Study for a Water Quality Improvement Project – Goose Creek Stormwater Basin (Towns of North Harmony and Busti)||$25,000.00|
|2||Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC)||Pilot Starry Stonewort removal at Ashville Bay using Mobitracs, and development of management recommendations for this new aquatic invasive||$11,000.00|
|3||Chautauqua Lake Partnership (CLP)||Used barge to offload Mobitrac||$50,000.00|
|4||Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA)||Utility Truck Capital Purchase (diesel version)||$77,142.03||Also included a reduced request option for gasoline version of truck for $68,506.13.|
P. Wendel indicated that it is important to distinguish between funds for lake maintenance work versus capital equipment.
E. Barnes asked if it would be possible to create a capital reserve account if there are unexpended funds.
B. Erickson indicated that there are challenges to funding capital purchases. B. Erickson asked if the new conveyor purchased by the County has been used yet this year.
D. Emhardt indicated it has not been used, but may be used in the management of starry stonewort later in the year.
B. Erickson indicated that he recommends caution around additional capital purchases until we know better how other new equipment that has been purchased recently performs.
B. Erickson indicated he was surprised that the Chautauqua Lake Association submitted a proposal for a utility truck. B. Erickson indicated he thought CLA might submit a proposal to be reimbursed for engine replacements. B. Erickson asked where plant material collected by the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel is being taken.
M. LaTone indicated that the Village of Celoron is disposing of that material. M. LaTone indicated that the Chautauqua Lake Partnership submitted a proposal form to purchase a barge which would work with the Mobitracs.
D. Emhardt indicated that there has not been much plant material for the Mobitracs to pick up as of late. D. Emhardt indicated that it might be prudent to cut the program back and save funds for the fall or for next year. D. Emhardt indicated that staffing will become an issue once Labor Day arrives.
P. Wendel indicated that the County is in the process of earmarking $87,000 in additional money to fund lake clean-up operations during September. P. Wendel indicated that it may not make sense to expend funds if there is not work that needs to be done, and indicated that discretion is a part of good management. P. Wendel indicated that he appreciates D. Emhardt sharing his thoughts on needs and expenses and acting in good faith. P. Wendel indicated that he has had a good rapport with CLA President John Ford this year.
D. Emhardt indicated that working in Bemus towards Shore Acres, Mobitracs may not have filled even two skimmers with material. D. Emhardt indicated there may be advantages to pulling equipment early.
B. Erickson indicated that labor issues will be forthcoming at CLA as students return to school.
D. Emhardt indicated that the $87,000 in additional funds could be put towards a Mobitrac support barge, and indicated that there may not be a need to run a daily maintenance schedule in September.
E. Barnes asked if remaining Alliance funds could be put towards a capital reserve account.
M. Proctor provided an overview of the wording of the County resolution for the funding, which has passed legislative committees and describes “collaborative lake maintenance services through September.”
R. Perry indicated that he would meet with County Watershed Coordinator D. McCoy to discuss equipment needs, pending purchases, and options, and indicated that the most time-sensitive of the proposals is the starry stonewort pilot removal proposed by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. R. Perry indicated that there is uncertainty about how to best manage this invasive species depending on different factors such as location and extent of growth.
A discussion followed of the pilot starry stonewort proposal using Mobitracs.
M. LaTone indicated that researchers from North Carolina State University discovered starry stonewort in Burtis Bay this week while performing a plant survey. M. LaTone indicated he is in dialogue with Glenn Sullivan of Solitude Lake Management about tactics that can be used for starry stonewort, such as mechanical removal, algaecide or herbicide. M. LaTone indicated that stakeholders on Keuka and Cazenovia Lakes are considering performing chemical treatments but have not done so yet, and indicated that a major issue with mechanical harvesting is fragmentation and spread of the algae. M. LaTone indicated he would like to see an accounting of CWC personnel hours and pay rates if the pilot removal is funded.
M. Proctor indicated he also would like to see a detailed financial report from the CWC if the proposal is funded. M. Proctor made a motion to award $11,000 in funding to the CWC Pilot Starry Stonewort Removal at Ashville Bay. The motion was seconded by B. Erickson and was passed unanimously.
B. Erickson asked what permitting would be needed from the NYSDEC for the pilot removal.
R. Perry indicated that there is a meeting scheduled for 8/21/23 with local stakeholders and DEC to discuss the pilot removal proposal and determine permitting as well as best management practices. R. Perry indicated that Alliance grants typically contain a clause that requires work be in compliance with NYSDEC or other regulations.
R. Perry indicated that there is also 2023 funding remaining from the CLP’s Alliance grant for herbicide treatments which could be redirected to starry stonewort management if desired. After discussion, it was determined that a formal amendment to the CLP’s grant was not necessary to do so. M. LaTone indicated he would explore the matter further with NCSU and Solitude.
T. West indicated that one possible approach is to remove a significant portion of starry stonewort from an area mechanically, and then subsequently perform a chemical treatment of the area.
M. LaTone indicated that approach may be recommended by DEC.
IX. 2023-2024 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update
*The Alliance Board lost quorum at this time. No formal Board actions were undertaken from this point forward, with the exception of Adjournment.
R. Perry indicated that the 2023-2024 Consolidated Local Funding Program will follow a schedule similar to last year with Board efforts concentrated in October.
X. Chautauqua Institution’s Jefferson Project Tributary Stations Capital Grant (Sheldon pass-through): Executive Director disclosure of potential conflict of interest
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance will be passing through a $500,000 capital grant from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation to Chautauqua Institution and The Jefferson Project for the construction of tributary monitoring stations. R. Perry indicated that in June, he became aware that his wife, C. Wigdahl-Perry, has been compensated by the Institution for her science education programming and research support work there, which is not funded by the Alliance nor is it directly related to the stream stations or The Jefferson Project. R. Perry indicated that he discussed the situation with B. Erickson, and it was determined that in the interest of full transparency and to avoid any perception of conflict, E. Barnes and B. Erickson will be co-signing checks for this grant award and overseeing the financial aspects of the grant.
R. Perry indicated that the 2023 Alliance operations budget includes funding for staff attendance at the upcoming North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) conference in Erie. R. Perry indicated that two staff members would be attending the conference at a total cost of around $1,750.
The meeting adjourned at 6:38 PM.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 8/17/23 Meeting Minutes on 9/14/23.