Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Work Session
Thursday, June 8, 2023
4:30 p.m. at the BWB Building, 201 West 3rd St. Jamestown, NY 14701 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson (via Zoom), Janis Bowman, JoDee Johnson, Ellen Barnes, Don Emhardt, Mike LaTone, Jim Andrews, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr. (via Zoom)
Directors Absent: Martin Proctor
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator.
I. Call to Order
D. Emhardt called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:30 PM. A quorum of 6 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Seating of New Directors
The Board welcomed incoming director JoDee Johnson. R. Perry indicated that J. Johnson has completed her orientation and paperwork needed to be seated. R. Perry indicated that J. Andrews and P. Wendel are returning directors with new terms. R. Perry indicated that all directors and staff have submitted their conflict of interest statements for the year. R. Perry thanked the new and returning directors.
III. Election of Officers
R. Perry indicated that the current officers are Chair B. Erickson, Vice-Chair D. Emhardt, Treasurer E. Barnes, and Secretary J. Bowman. R. Perry indicated that all current officers are eligible for new one-year terms.
M. LaTone made a motion proposing that existing officers be approved for new one-year terms at their current positions. The motion was seconded by P. Wendel and was passed unanimously.
R. Perry indicated that he will update the staff directory and contact information and distribute that to the Board.
IV. Approval of 5/11/2023 Board Meeting Minutes
E. Barnes made a motion to accept the minutes from the 5/11/23 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by M. LaTone and was passed unanimously.
V. Financial Update
a.) Monthly Summary Report
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes an updated financial summary report. R. Perry indicated that the summary includes information related to several grant payments received by the Alliance, as well as grant awards made to Alliance Members.
J. Bowman made a motion to accept the financial report as presented. The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was approved unanimously.
b.) Opportunity to Open Higher Interest Short-Term CD Account at KeyBank
R. Perry indicated that he had been contacted by KeyBank regarding an opportunity for a higher interest rate Certificate of Deposit (CD) account. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance Board Operating Reserve is currently located at KeyBank in a savings account. R. Perry indicated that there is no expected need to spend those funds in the immediate future, and indicated that there is an opportunity to transfer some of those funds to a certificate of deposit (CD) account with a higher interest rate than the current savings account.
M. LaTone made a motion to authorize the opening of a new CD account at KeyBank and transfer funds from the current KeyBank savings account to a new CD account. The motion was seconded by J. Johnson.
E. Barnes asked how much of the savings account balance would be transferred to the new account.
R. Perry indicated he would speak to the bank before making the transfer with regards to relationship status. R. Perry indicated that there may be an account minimum for the existing savings account that must be maintained. R. Perry indicated that it may be necessary to keep around $10,000 to $25,000 in the savings account in order to not incur fees.
The motion was approved unanimously.
VI. Alliance Committees
a.) Data Analysis & Research Committees
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes a response from the DAR Committee on the April 13, 2023 Board request for information regarding relational databases.
The questions and responses were as follows:
Questions from Alliance Board: What is the best way to approach the creation of a relational database? What would it do for us if we had it? How much time does it take? Is it something staff can do, or is it something we need to get a consultant to help us with?
Response from DAR Committee:
Questions from the Alliance Board (April 2023)
Overall best practice around open data science is centered on the tenets that the data is findable; accessible; interoperable and reproducible (FAIR).
1. What is the best way to approach the creation of a relational database?
The very first step that needs to be taken is to identify the goals, users and the types of data that will be included in this database. It will be important to determine how these data will be entered into the relational database. If researchers are given access to directly upload their data, then a “staging” section of the database will be required. This will allow for the data to be inspected and cleaned, the process of looking for misaligned fields and/or missing fields; this is not a process that in anyway evaluates the merit of the data submitted. This process is done to ensure that the established standards for the database are followed. The need for this staging area would be eliminated if Alliance staff were to conduct this process before the data is added to the operational database.
In both of these cases, all data will need to be connected to each other by a common alphanumeric identifier. Historic data will also need to organized in this same way. Decisions around the User Interface will also need to be made both around data will be searched, the sample tables that will be generated, as well as how the data downloaded from the database will be formatted. Overall, a standard decision around vector data would have these data compiled as a text columnated file. Any raster data should be formatted in geotiff format.
Regardless of the design decisions made, it is important that clearly defined goals are used in narrowing down this approach and structure of the project.
2. What would it do for us if we had it?
Alliance staff, researchers and other interested parties are currently unable to query and access historic and currently collected data from Chautauqua Lake. The available historical data is a record developed over several decades. Currently these data (if available) are found primarily in published reports from consultants and researchers. The ability of Alliance staff and others to access and query these data sets currently does not allow for relational comparisons to be done using the raw data collected, only the data compiled by researchers in summary form for reporting purposes. The creation of a relational data base would allow (1) greater efficiency in evaluating trends in water quality & biota, and (2) enhance the ability of the Alliance to identify research questions and management actions to be funded by the Alliance. The relational database would create a repository/clearinghouse of the data collected, allowing related datasets to be stored in the same location in similar format. The data are then more comparable, once they are structured in the same way (e.g. uniform units, timestamps, etc.).
With information in one location, this can increase access to data that may not be easily available otherwise, as well as allow for visualizations and communication to the public. One of the most important aspect of this tool is that it allows for the exploration of patterns on larger scales, in space and time. Multiple years of data would be more directly comparable to each other, so patterns could be tracked through time and over larger spatial scales. With interannual variability in lake ecosystems, a broader perspective allows for a better understanding of averages and anomalies – e.g., is a high bloom frequency year just a one-off oddity or is it part of a larger pattern of increasing blooms?
3. How much time does it take? Is it something staff can do, or is it something we need to get a consultant to help us with?
A database of this scale will require considerable investment of time and resources. Without a better sense of what the Alliance is envisioning as the scale of the data to be included, it is difficult to estimate the total cost, both financially as well as in hours of labor, to build the database. Once the database is developed, it would be imperative that all future research and monitoring entities funded by the Alliance provide collected data in a format that meets the established standards of the database to reduce any further investment of monies and time for these data to imported into the database.
In determining the scope of work, the Alliance Board should consider:
a. What kinds of data would this encompass? For example, water quality data vs. plant survey data, or chemistry vs. biological community data – these have very different structures. It can be challenging to put very disparate kinds of data into a uniform system.
b. Who would be the contributors? Experts only or open to all but with labels for contributor type? How will data sharing agreements be handled? Are there copyright issues from previously published work?
c. What metadata requirements are needed?
d. How will quality assurance/quality control be handled?
e. Who are the users? Researchers vs. stakeholders would likely have different needs for output.
f. How would the data be used? Would it be downloadable only, or with visualization tools? This will dictate the platform and need for additional programming expertise.
g. Who has the capacity to maintain, store, and manage the database?
h. Where should it be housed? Academic, nonprofit, governmental entities?
i. What other aspects should be considered for future applications, so that this investment is useful beyond the most immediate questions? Can we anticipate other needs and build that in to the framework?
If the goal is to help researchers share data and collaborate, then there is the belief that this is actually done well currently between researchers working on water quality assessment. Because of the tools and structures that these researchers have, the need for the development of the relational database may not even be necessary.
If the goal is to make access to these raw data more available to the Alliance staff and public, then the need for the relational database arises. The Alliance staff and public would probably rely more heavily on visualization tools to create an interactive user interface and there may be other approaches that would assist in communicating and sharing information. If not for public access (due to additional time and expense to create an interface more friendly for a general user), then static maps and/or graphs could then be created and shared as needed by the Alliance staff.
Additionally, there are other repositories that exist for relevant lake information, such as state/federal agencies (NOAA, USGS, EPA, NYSDEC), including the CSLAP data. These data are readily available online, with considerable costs already put towards those systems, so there are other access points for some information that currently exist if the public wishes to use them.
End of DAR written response.
R. Perry indicated that there are a number of existing databases containing relevant information that are operated by federal or state agencies. R. Perry indicated that in the past the Alliance has been able to share available information with researchers on an as-needed basis when engaged. R. Perry indicated that in addition to discussions on relational databases, there are related questions about the potential for a live data dashboard for the lake and watershed, and indicated that the DAR response contains a lot of useful information. R. Perry indicated that J. Young has prepared a presentation that gives some examples of existing data dashboards and data archives that are in use on other lakes.
J. Johnson indicated that a main question is, should a data dashboard be put together? J. Johnson indicated she had difficulty finding information on data collected by The Jefferson Project at Lake George. J. Johnson indicated that the Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA) offers useful information, as well as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). J. Johnson indicated that a dashboard may consist of bringing links to these different resources together in one place.
P. Wendel indicated the scale of the data being collected by The Jefferson Project is important to consider when it comes to distribution.
J. Johnson indicated that you would expect a report or presentation to be generated by their research, which stakeholders should have access to.
D. Emhardt indicated that The Jefferson Project will be presenting at the Chautauqua Lake Water Quality Conference at Chautauqua Institution on June 17.
J. Bowman indicated that the DAR Committee is intended to review and share conclusions on data, but that there may be some confusion amongst Committee Members on their role. J. Bowman indicated that the Board voted that DAR can take the initiative to review data, but it seems that some Committee Members may not be comfortable with that. J. Bowman indicated that Chair M. Jabot had recently resigned from DAR.
R. Perry indicated that D. Shepherd, former Board Member and DAR liaison, offered to help facilitate dialogue with the Committee moving forward if the Board was interested. R. Perry indicated that there are a lot of questions regarding the DAR, its configuration, its members, and other matters. R. Perry indicated that perhaps a meeting between the Board and the DAR could be organized.
D. Emhardt indicated that setting a meeting with the DAR for the August Work Session may be a good idea.
P. Wendel indicated that the role of the Alliance has evolved and continues to evolve, and that DAR may need to do the same moving forward.
R. Perry indicated that he would provide the Board with details on the composition of the DAR, and would engage the DAR about a meeting with the Board.
b.) Lake Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that the Lake Management Committee is scheduled to meet on July 19 at The Lawson Center.
c.) Watershed Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that the Watershed Management Committee met in May, and has yet to schedule its next meeting.
VII. 2023 Alliance Local Grant Program
a.) Status of Awards Made To Date for 2023
R. Perry provided a summary of the grant awards made by the Alliance so far in 2023. R. Perry outlined the pass-thru revenue received by the Alliance thus far for 2023.
b.) Discussion of Remaining Funds Available for 2023
R. Perry indicated that there is currently $108,332 in yet-to-be-allocated funding that is available for use in 2023. R. Perry indicated the funds are from Holmberg Foundation and County Occupancy Tax grants.
M. LaTone indicated his support for holding on to those funds so they can be used for late-season cleanup or other needs as they are identified. M. LaTone indicated that the Lower South Basin might be an area of particular emphasis.
J. Bowman indicated that it also remains to be seen what management needs to be done on emerging invasive species, such as potential management actions for starry stonewort or water chestnut.
A discussion followed of Mobitrac operations as well as South Basin shoreline cleanup and equipment.
J. Johnson indicated that it was good to have funds available for late-season work.
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes maps of Alliance biovolume surveys as well as recent photos of shoreline conditions around the lake’s perimeter.
A discussion followed of shoreline conditions.
M. LaTone indicated he recently had drone photography done that he would send to Alliance staff.
R. Perry indicated that the Chautauqua Lake Partnership has posted maps of the Aquathol K herbicide treatment on its website. R. Perry indicated that CLA has posted new workplan information, and that the shoreline cleanup program is expected to start on June 26.
J. Bowman indicated that she felt there was not adequate signage put up in public areas regarding the Aquathol K treatment. J. Bowman asked if more should be done to inform the public of the treatments.
M. LaTone indicated that there have been communication issues with the DEC, and that the signage that was posted complied with permits.
A discussion followed related to the public notification process for herbicide treatments.
M. LaTone indicated he will ask Solitude Lake Management what the cost is of posting signage at all public boat launches.
J. Bowman asked when the ProcellaCOR treatment was scheduled for. M. LaTone indicated that it was scheduled for next Wednesday and that he would be sending the maps to Alliance staff.
R. Perry indicated that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has posted information regarding its aquatic invasive species programs which can be found at https://www.chautauquawatershed.org/aquatic.
VIII. Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation Tributary Monitoring Station Pass-Through Capital Grant Opportunity
D. Emhardt indicated that there is an opportunity for the Alliance to pass 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. D. Emhardt he was excited to learn more about Dewittville Creek in particular.
R. Perry indicated that the tributaries proposed for monitoring are Big Inlet, Dewittville Creek, Prendergast Creek, Ball Creek, Bemus Creek, and Goose Creek. R. Perry indicated that those tributaries would be fitted with monitoring stations while a gauge would also be added to the Chadakoin River near Warner Dam.
T. West indicated that the meeting packet includes an example sketch of a tributary monitoring station along with the planned locations.
D. Emhardt indicated that DEC permitting for the stations is ongoing in the Town of Chautauqua.
R. Perry indicated that the Sheldon Foundation Board has not made a decision to fund the project yet, and that they are currently engaging the Alliance to determine if it is willing to act as a pass-through fiduciary.
J. Andrews made a motion to have the Alliance act as a pass-through fiduciary for the Chautauqua Institution’s Jefferson Project Tributary Stations Capital Grant, at the request of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and if funding is awarded for the project by the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation Board. The motion was seconded by P. Wendel.
J. Johnson indicated that there seems to be a lack of detail about the specifics of the program, given the size of the funding being considered.
R. Perry indicated that if this opportunity were to move forward, it would involve a grant agreement between the Alliance and Chautauqua Institution, which is partnering with The Jefferson Project. R. Perry indicated that he has received engineering plans for the stations, and that there have been a number of stakeholder meetings over the past year or so about this project. R. Perry indicated that a grant agreement for this project would have reporting requirements, as do all Alliance Member grants.
M. LaTone indicated that in the past reporting from The Jefferson Project has been lacking.
R. Perry indicated that this grant opportunity is specifically for a capital project, while Jefferson Project operations are being funded in parallel by Chautauqua County. R. Perry indicated that if this were to move forward, the Alliance could attempt to coordinate with the County on reporting requirements.
J. Johnson indicated her main concern was not knowing what would be delivered if this funding is passed through.
P. Wendel indicated that he appreciates the concerns being raised, and indicated it is important to realize that this is an opportunity to pass through funds from the Sheldon Foundation to The Jefferson Project, not expend Alliance funds.
M. LaTone asked if the Alliance is in a position to ask for the reports generated from these stations.
D. Emhardt indicated that the Alliance should be able to get those reports. D. Emhardt indicated that the Sheldon Foundation helped establish the Alliance as a pass through organization for lake and watershed projects, and that it makes sense for them to engage the Alliance on this opportunity.
R. Perry indicated that The Jefferson Project has been receptive to requests for information, and indicated he does not expect that to change.
T. West indicated that one way The Jefferson Project engages the public with this information is at forums like the upcoming Chautauqua Lake Waters Quality Conference.
D. Emhardt indicated it is exciting to be involved in this work, and indicated that this year he has an algae instrument located on his dock.
The motion was passed unanimously.
IX. 2023 NYS Consolidated Funding Application Update
R. Perry indicated that the 2023 New York State Consolidated Funding Application window opened in mid-May and will close in late July. R. Perry indicated that Alliance staff is currently underway preparing two applications for Members, and that other Members are being engaged about additional applications. R. Perry indicated that once enough application details are finalized, the Board may be asked to utilize the Alliance Foundation Match Fund to leverage these outside grants.
X. 2023-2023 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update – Solicitation and Review Process
R. Perry indicated that the meeting materials include an overview of the Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program. R. Perry indicated that given ongoing developments with the County Occupancy Tax Program, there may need to be a shift in how foundation funding is utilized in supporting the operations of the Alliance.
D. Emhardt indicated that the Chautauqua Lake Water Quality Conference is a great opportunity to learn from researchers.
P. Wendel indicated that on June 14, 2023 at 6 p.m. there will be a stakeholder meeting at the County Legislature with members of The Jefferson Project. P. Wendel indicated that anyone on the Board is welcome to attend.
R. Perry indicated that he could email Alliance Committees to remind them of the Water Quality Conference.
J. Bowman indicated that it may be worth reconsidering the venue/organization/format of Alliance public Board Meetings. J. Bowman indicated that it can feel like the Board is serving as a question-and-answer panel in a way that is not as productive as work sessions.
E. Barnes made a motion to adjourn the June 8, 2023 Board meeting. The motion was seconded by M. LaTone and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:47 PM.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 6/8/23 Meeting Minutes on 7/13/23.