Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Public Meeting
Thursday, March 9, 2023
4:30 p.m. at The Lawson Center, 73 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point, NY 14712 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Jim Andrews, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr., Martin Proctor, Ellen Barnes, Don Emhardt, David Shepherd (Zoom), Mike Latone (Zoom), and Jan Bowman (Zoom)
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator
Others in Attendance: Linda Swanson– Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation; Craig Butler; Dr. Peter Beeson; Liz Jones –Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Howard Akin; Tim Wright; Vince Horrigan.
Member Representatives in Attendance: John Jablonski, Becky Nystrom–Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; Doug Conroe, John Ford–Chautauqua Lake Association; Dr. Jim Cirbus, Frank Nicotra, Jodee Johnson–Chautauqua Lake Partnership; Jim Wehrfritz–Town of Ellery; Louise Ortman– Town of North Harmony; Dave McCoy, Pierre Chagnon– County of Chautauqua; Toby Shepherd–Chautauqua Institution; Jeff Molnar– Village of Bemus Point.
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:30 PM. A quorum of 8 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 2/16/2023 Board Work Session Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 2/16/2023 Work Session Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was approved unanimously.
III. Financial Report
B. Erickson indicated that in response to a request at the 1/12/23 Board meeting he has worked with staff to generate a new financial summary report. B. Erickson indicated that the majority of the funds handled by the Alliance are passed through to Members via grant agreements. B. Erickson indicated that the Board reviews financial documents quarterly and intends to present this summary report at public meetings.
R. Perry indicated that the summary report was available in the meeting packet, and provided additional information on the amounts listed for bank accounts and revenues and expenses.
J. Wehrfritz asked what constitutes operational expenses.
R. Perry indicated that operational expenses include things such as payroll, insurance, office rent, and other things of that nature.
E. Barnes made a motion to accept the financial summary report as presented. The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was passed unanimously.
IV. Projects Update
T. West indicated that the Alliance has been progressing its New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Round 17 Water Quality Improvement Projects (WQIP) projects, which include the Village of Lakewood’s Grandview Stormwater Management Project, Town of North Harmony’s Ball Creek Stabilization Project, and the Town of Chautauqua’s Swales Stabilization Project. T. West indicated that engineering design is progressing on the Ball Creek Stabilization and the Grandview Stormwater Management Projects and that the project team is drafting an engineering request for proposal for the Town of Chautauqua’s Swales Stabilization Project. All three municipalities are expected to put out solicitations for construction or engineering in the coming months. Lakewood and North Harmony would be construction solicitations, and Chautauqua’s solicitation would be for engineering. T. West indicated he was pleased to share exciting news regarding the NYSDEC’s 2022 Non-Ag Non-Point Source Planning Grant Awards. The Village of Lakewood secured funding for their Mall Boulevard Commercial Corridor Stormwater Engineering Study, which aims to study stormwater runoff in the study area and recommend project(s) that reduce the frequency and duration of flooding around the Mall, Mall Boulevard, and Route 394 and improve the water quality flowing from the study area to Chautauqua Lake. The Town of Chautauqua secured funding for their Stream Culvert Assessment Study, which would assess two road/stream culvert crossings and generate an engineering design report to address erosion concerns resulting from two potentially inadequately sized/aligned and/or failing stream culverts located along two locations within the Town of Chautauqua. The Town of North Harmony secured funding for their Ball Creek Stabilization Engineering Study Phase 2, which aims to assess a corridor of Ball Creek from Route 394 to the mouth and generate an engineering design report that identifies areas of erosion and stream instability along with potential management actions that could be implemented in that corridor to reduce sediment and nutrient loading to Chautauqua Lake.
J. Wehrfritz asked for clarification on the amounts of the grant awards and the programs.
T. West indicated that the three grants secured were through the NYSDEC Non-Ag Non-point Source Planning Grant program, and that each grant is for $30,000.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District had received two Round 18 WQIP grant awards, and asked if the Alliance had partnered on any WQIP submissions.
T. West indicated that the Alliance had partnered on the three planning grants, which are often used or are often necessary to pursue implementation grants or projects.
D. McCoy congratulated the Alliance for the successful grant applications.
The following projects update was provided as a meeting handout:
- 2018-2023 Invasive Species Early Detection – Volunteer Task Force
- Water Chestnut (~330 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-October 2022
- Collaborative efforts among CWC, ACNC, Alliance, WNY PRISM, and Volunteers
- Starry Stonewort found in Chautauqua Lake in Ashville Bay and near Prendergast Point in August 2022. Management planning work underway by CWC
- This species of macro-algae has been found in Chautauqua Lake since around 2009.
- CWC’s 2022 surveys have documented at least 7.25 acres of Starry Stonewort across two areas of the lake (Ashville Bay and Prendergast Point)
- Contact the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) to get involved
- To help observe/report on your own, please sign up for iMapInvasives: www.imapinvasives.org/
- Water Chestnut (~330 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-October 2022
- 2018 Busti Precision Swales Stabilization (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Grant closeout underway
- 2021 Village of Lakewood Grandview Stormwater Management Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to create a series of pocket wetland structures to capture and treat ~100,000 cubic feet stormwater from the Grandview subdivision with the goal of reducing flooding along Rte. 394 and sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake. A trail is planned for around the project providing an educational and recreational opportunity for the public
- Engineering underway by EcoStrategies
- Preparing Invitation for Bids
- 2021 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~440 linear feet of streambank along Ball Creek in the Town of North Harmony to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake
- Engineering on Tri-James Bend underway by EcoStrategies
- Preparing Invitation for Bids
- 2021 Town of Chautauqua Roadside Swales Stabilization Project (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Project aims to stabilize ~16,000 linear feet of swales within the Town of Chautauqua to reduce sediment and nutrient loading in Chautauqua Lake.
- State Assistance Contract execution complete
- Preparing engineering Request for Proposals (RFP)
- 2022 Town of Chautauqua Stream Culvert Assessments (NYSDEC NPG)
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Town has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to assess road/stream culvert crossings at two locations within the Chautauqua Lake watershed and will produce an engineering design report for projects that address erosion caused by failing or inadequately sized culverts.
- 2022 Village of Lakewood Commercial Corridor Stormwater Engineering Study – Mall Boulevard (NYSDEC NPG)
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Village has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to complete a stormwater engineering study for the Chautauqua Mall Boulevard commercial corridor to reduce excessive stormwater runoff in the study area and improve water quality entering Chautauqua Lake.
- 2022 Town of North Harmony Ball Creek Stabilization Engineering Study Phase II (NYSDEC NPG)
- NYSDEC announced on 3/6/23 that the Town has been awarded a non-point source planning grant to develop a streambank stabilization engineering study of ~2,640 linear feet of stream corridor along Ball Creek (from the Ball Creek mouth upstream to NYS Route 394). The engineering design report will identify areas of erosion and stream instability and identify potential management actions to reduce sediment and nutrient loading to Chautauqua Lake.
The Alliance would like to congratulate the Villages of Lakewood and Celoron and Towns of Chautauqua and North Harmony on their successful grant applications.
- List of Alliance-partnered NYS grants that have been closed out:
- 2015 NYS Invasive Species Management Grant (C. Young Senate Initiative), closed ca. Apr 2019
- 2016 Lakewood-Busti Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Jan 2019
- 2013 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase I Grant, closed ca. Sep 2018
- 2016 Celoron Breakwall & Boardwalk LWRP Phase II-III Grant, closed ca. Aug 2019
- 2017 Mayville-Chautauqua Stormwater Mgmt. Engineering Study (DEC/EFC EPG), closed ca. Feb 2020
- 2015 County Round 12 WQIP Streambank Stabilization Projects at Ball, Bemus, Goose, Prendergast, Dutch Hollow (Phase 1 & 2), and West Dutch Hollow Creeks, closed ca. April 2022
- 2017 Celoron Park Improvement (Amenities Building) LWRP Phase IV Grant, closed ca. Mar 2021
- 2018 Lakewood Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit (NYSEFC GIGP), closed ca. Jan 2022
- 2018 County Round 15 Skimming Capital Equipment (NYSDEC WQIP), closed ca. Apr 2022
Additional information is available on the Alliance website Projects page and in our Annual Reports:
- Projects Page: http://www.chautauquaalliance.org/projects/
- Annual Reports: http://www.chautauquaalliance.org/annual-reports/
V. 2022-2023 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has secured $683,332 in grant awards from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, and The Lenna Foundation. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance had submitted a combined consolidated grant request of $800,000 to the foundations. R. Perry indicated that the February 16, 2023 Board meeting minutes included in the meeting packet include a summary table of the Board-approved grant awards. R. Perry indicated that Member award notifications have been made, and that grant agreement contracts are in the process of being drafted. R. Perry thanked the foundations for the generosity of their awards.
VI. May Annual Meeting, Board Election, and Membership Drive
R. Perry indicated that the May Annual Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 11, 2023, at 4:30 PM at the Lawson Center in Bemus Point and via Zoom. R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet contains election procedures and details, which will be emailed to all Member representatives. R. Perry indicated that there are three directors with terms ending in May, who are P. Wendel, D. Shepherd, and J. Andrews. R. Perry indicated that P. Wendel will remain in his Ex officio seat as long as he is County Executive, J. Andrews is eligible to run for reelection to his municipal seat, and D. Shepherd has reached the term limit and is not eligible to run again for his at-large seat. R. Perry indicated that the nomination window is open, and that nominations can be sent to him via email or given in writing to Secretary J. Bowman. R. Perry indicated the voting period will be May 5-11 and that votes will be due no later than noon on May 11 or given in person at the meeting on May 11 at 4:30 PM. R. Perry indicated that Alliance by-laws can be viewed on the website. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance membership year runs July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. R. Perry indicated that if a Member has changed their primary or secondary contact as listed on their membership agreement, that they can contact staff about the change before casting votes. R. Perry thanked the Members for their involvement and asked that anyone with questions reach out to him.
R. Perry indicated that the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) will be holding its 2023 meeting in Erie, PA at the Bayfront Convention Center from October 22-26. R. Perry indicated that for anyone who is interested in participating in the program, information can be found at http://www.nalms.org. R. Perry indicated that the abstract submission deadline is April 28, 2023, and the program submission deadline is April 14, 2023. R. Perry indicated that Courtney Wigdahl-Perry of the State University of New York at Fredonia Biology Department is a local point of contact for the program committee for NALMS this year.
J. Wehrfritz asked if there are exhibits at the meeting.
R. Perry indicated that typically there will be sponsor exhibits and poster sessions, but there is some variation by conference. R. Perry encouraged anyone interested to visit the NALMS website.
J. Wehrfritz asked if the Alliance typically sends anyone to the meeting.
R. Perry indicated that staff was sent in 2017 to the NALMS meeting in Denver, CO, and indicated that this is the first time the meeting has been this nearby. R. Perry indicated that staff has sometimes attended in the past, but he was unsure if Board members have attended.
VIII. Open Floor: Member Representatives and Community Members in Attendance
J. Jablonski indicated that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has secured 30 acres of wetland along Goose Creek across the road from Ashville Bay Marina, as well as 24 acres of wetlands near Vukote Canal. J. Jablonski indicated that the New York State Federation of Lake Associations conference will be held May 5-6 at Lake George, NY, and that registration is open.
P. Wendel indicated that he, Dave McCoy, Pierre Chagnon, and Mark Geise visited Washington, D.C. the previous day. P. Wendel indicated that the group met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative Nick Langworthy and discussed a number of projects and initiatives in Chautauqua County. P. Wendel indicated he was optimistic about progress moving forward.
B. Nystrom indicated that the minutes from the January 2023 public Board meeting include a discussion of the Data Analysis and Research Committee (DAR), and a motion to engage the DAR. B. Nystrom indicated that there is a table summarizing rake toss methods related to that discussion that has not been provided to DAR. B. Nystrom indicated that the DAR Committee did meet on March 2, 2023, after it was asked the following question in February of 2023: “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.).” B. Nystrom indicated that Committee Chairman Mike Jabot had provided a response to that inquiry to the Alliance Board. B. Nystrom indicated that the DAR was not asked to look at the data. B. Nystrom indicated she believed that the question asked of the DAR was not getting at the kinds of things discussed at the January Board meeting. B. Nystrom indicated she believed there was a communications failure.
DAR Board liaison D. Shepherd indicated that he had met with M. Jabot and R. Perry to develop the question submitted to DAR. D. Shepherd indicated that there was a concern discussed during that meeting that the DAR was potentially being brought into a political discussion. D. Shepherd indicated that there was an effort to craft the question in such a way that the DAR was not put in the crosshairs of Members who have differing opinions of what should be done. D. Shepherd indicated that he believed it was valid to question if the Board is asking enough questions of the DAR. D. Shepherd indicated that he understood the frustration of B. Nystrom, and indicated that having the DAR engage with the Board would be one way to move forward.
J. Wehrfritz asked for clarification on the year in which the DAR was last asked a question.
B. Nystrom indicated she was referring to the question asked in February of 2023, and indicated that the DAR was previously engaged in 2020/2021.
B. Nystrom asked if the Board had received the response from the DAR related to the most recent question.
B. Erickson indicated that response was sent to the Board via email.
T. Wright asked if the DAR response would be shared publically.
R. Perry indicated the response was sent to the Board, will be reviewed and discussed with M. Jabot and then next steps will be determined.
J. Wehrfritz asked why it would not be shared.
J. Cirbus indicated that the response should be in the minutes.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that the DAR engagement stems from the January 2023 public Board meeting, in which a table summarizing rake toss methods was shared. J. Wehrfritz indicated that this is a timely question, as plant surveys have been completed or may be underway, and judgements have to be made.
B. Erickson indicated he agreed with that point.
J. Wehrfritz asked why the process could not be expedited.
B. Erickson reiterated the point made by D. Shepherd regarding the concern about drawing the DAR into a political discussion.
D. Conroe asked, isn’t the science the science?
B. Erickson indicated that he believes the Board made funding allocations without basing them on scientific analysis.
D. Conroe indicated that the DAR should look at the facts, wherever they lay and however they lay.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that if an analysis is believed to not be objective, that opinion could be communicated to the Board.
A discussion followed of what reports and surveys are publically available, and where they can be found, such as on the Alliance website.
J. Bowman indicated she has looked through the reports thoroughly, along with others, and indicated that the role of the DAR should not be political. J. Bowman indicated that the DAR is comprised of individuals who can understand the data in the reports and summarize it for communication to others, such as the Board. J. Bowman indicated her support for having the DAR look at the reports and provide a summary. J. Bowman indicated she agreed with B. Erickson’s point about frustration related to funding allocation before data analysis. J. Bowman indicated that the recent response from the DAR concluded that multiple data sets are a good thing. J. Bowman indicated she was interested in a more specific response from the DAR, summarizing the data from the reports.
D. Shepherd indicated that the response from DAR recommends that “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.” D. Shepherd indicated that it is an open question if that goal could be achieved by Alliance staff or perhaps outside consultants.
B. Nystrom asked that no one assume members of the DAR committee are swayed by politics. B. Nystrom indicated that the DAR is committed to objectively looking at data. B. Nystrom indicated she agreed with J. Bowman that the DAR could be asked more specific questions. B. Nystrom indicated she agreed with J. Bowman and B. Erickson that it is unfortunate that funding allocations are being made without data evaluation from the DAR. B. Nystrom indicated that it appeared that the Lake Management Committee was being given reports, but the DAR was not.
J. Cirbus asked if the table summarizing rake toss methods is what is being discussed, and if that table was send to the DAR.
B. Nystrom indicated it was not.
J. Cirbus asked why it was not sent.
B. Erickson indicated that he recalled the DAR engagement discussion was about the comparison of plant surveys, and whether duplication was needed.
J. Cirbus indicated that he believed there was not a significant difference in the rake toss methods used, but that the information should be shared with the DAR.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that was what was agreed on at the January 2023 public Board meeting.
P. Wendel asked why the DAR has to be engaged by the Board. P. Wendel indicated his support for a meeting of the researchers performing surveys and authoring reports where their findings can be shared. P. Wendel indicated that people with appropriate backgrounds are able to author their own, potentially different, opinions on scientific reports. P. Wendel indicated this is similar to how two lawyers may arrive at different positions after reading the same document. P. Wendel indicated his support for having the DAR provide summaries of reports, not interpretations. P. Wendel indicated that the researchers conducting the work are the best people to present interpretations of it. P. Wendel indicated that following recent meetings with stakeholders, it may be appropriate for the Alliance to reevaluate its role. P. Wendel indicated his support for evolving the organization moving forward. P. Wendel indicated that the Army Corps of Engineers is excited about the research that is being conducted by The Jefferson Project.
J. Cirbus asked about The Jefferson Project, if anyone was present from the project team, and how their research is being shared.
P. Wendel indicated he would look into the sharing of research.
D. Conroe indicated that Chautauqua Institution President Michael Hill indicated that there will be a June 2023 event where The Jefferson Project will share findings with the public.
D. Conroe indicated that he agreed with P. Wendel’s point about the DAR being able to initiate its own committee reports. D. Conroe indicated his support for sharing reports with the DAR, and indicated that he believes there are significant differences between the plant survey reports authored by North Carolina State University and SUNY Oneonta, and that those differences should be disclosed. D. Conroe indicated that if the response from the DAR is not shared, it will be the second time in the history of the Alliance that a response from the DAR or former Science Committee has not been shared. D. Conroe indicated transparency is important.
D. Emhardt indicated that June 17, 2023 is the planned date for the Institution event.
J. Bowman indicated she believes there is value in having the DAR provide interpretations of the data in reports, citing as an example the possibility of someone misreading map symbology.
J. Cirbus asked whether this discussion is in regard to maps in a report, or research, and indicated that he believes those are two different things. J. Cirbus asked why the DAR would be asked to re-interpret a report that has been prepared by a professional.
Discussion followed of the distinctions between interpretation, validation, and summary of reports.
B. Erickson asked that if there are questions that anyone would like sent to the DAR, that they can send them to him directly and he will relay them as best he can.
P. Wendel made a motion that the DAR Committee be given the authority to research, evaluate, digest, and interpret information as it comes in, without being engaged on a direct request from the Board.
B. Erickson indicated that the summary of the motion was that data that come in should be shared with the DAR, and that interpretations and explanations and other things can come back.
The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously.
J. Wehrfritz asked if the motion required a by-law change.
B. Erickson indicated that was not necessarily the case.
J. Wehrfritz asked about the current composition of the DAR, the selection process, and the opportunity for new members to be appointed.
R. Perry indicated that the DAR Committee has a charter and that appointment to the DAR is through Board action. R. Perry indicated that he did not have the specific details on terms and renewal with him at this time, and indicated that he would get back to the Board with that information. R. Perry indicated that current DAR members include Chair M. Jabot, K. Lawton, S. Hayes, B. Nystrom. C. Wigdahl-Perry, T. Leenders, G. Bullerjahn, and D. Josephson. R. Perry indicated that D. Shepherd is the Board liaison assigned to the DAR.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that there appear to be people on the Committee who are not around anymore.
J. Cirbus asked who participated in the DAR February 2023 meeting.
B. Nystrom indicated that there was an email invitation, and that M. Jabot, D. Josephson, herself, R. Perry, and C. Wigdahl-Perry were present for the Zoom meeting.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that it appeared people had been added to the DAR in recent years, such as D. Josephson who was not in the area.
D. Conroe indicated that D. Josephson was in the area.
Jodee Johnson asked if there were any thoughts about the impact of the mild winter on lake conditions, and if there was interest in proactive coordination to address the impacts.
P. Wendel indicated that he has had several discussions with stakeholders about improving collaboration moving forward, including funding discussions. P. Wendel indicated that in the past, questions have been posed about potentially harvesting plants in the weeks before an herbicide treatment is made. P. Wendel indicated he has commitments from D. Conroe and M. LaTone that this will take place in 2023. P. Wendel indicated that there is a general belief by many that a mild winter with not much ice cover will result in greater plant growth. P. Wendel indicated there are many unknowns, and his goal is to focus on collaboration. P. Wendel indicated that the Memorandum of Understanding was created with collaboration as an objective, and that discussions will take place on that front. P. Wendel indicated that he is engaging the leaders of the local foundations and local state representatives on the topic of sustainable funding for lake projects. P. Wendel indicated his belief that finding a sustainable funding source is the best way to mitigate arguments between the stakeholders that currently have to compete for funds.
D. Emhardt made a motion to adjourn the March 9, 2023 meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:34 p.m.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 3/9/2023 Meeting Minutes on 4/13/23.