Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Public Meeting
Thursday, November 11, 2021
4:30 p.m. at the The Lawson Center, 73 Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point, NY 14712 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Pierre Chagnon, Mary Hutchings, Bruce Erickson, Jim Andrews, Don Emhardt, David Shepherd, Mike Latone
Absent: Rob Yates, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr.
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young–Communications Coordinator.
Others in Attendance: Cassie Pinkoski – Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); Linda Swanson– The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation; Doug Champ; Craig Butler; Bob Moon; Peter Beeson
Member Representatives in Attendance: John Jablonski, Becky Nystrom and Whitney Gleason– Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; Rudy Mueller and Doug Conroe–Chautauqua Lake Association; Jim Cirbus–Chautauqua Lake Partnership; Karen Rine – South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts; Jim Wehrfritz – Town of Ellery
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 7 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 10/14/2021 Board Work Session Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 10/14/2021 Work Session Meeting. The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was approved unanimously.
III. Approval of the 10/25/2021 Board Work Session Minutes
M. Latone made a motion to accept the minutes from the 10/25/2021 Work Session Meeting. The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was approved unanimously.
IV. Projects Update
T. West gave the following projects update:
- 2015 County Round 12 Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Grants – Streambank Stabilizations:
- Dutch Hollow Creek & West Dutch Hollow Creek:
- Phase I construction complete at Dutch Hollow Creek Main Stem (2018)
- Construction complete at West Dutch Hollow Creek (2018-2019)
- Dutch Hollow Creek Phase II Construction began in late-August and was completed in October 2021 (Engineer: Bergmann; Contractor: Rock of WNY)
- Completion of as-builts and final grant closeout underway
- Dutch Hollow Creek & West Dutch Hollow Creek:
- 2018-2021 Invasive Species Early Detection – Volunteer Task Force
- Water Chestnut (>100 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-August 2021
- Collaborative efforts among RTPI, ACNC, CWC, Alliance, and Volunteers
- Contact Twan Leenders or Jonathan Townsend and/or Alliance (Taylor West) to get involved
- To help observe/report on your own, please sign up for iMapInvasives: www.imapinvasives.org/
- Water Chestnut (>100 plants) found/removed in Chautauqua Lake Outlet in June-August 2021
- 2018 Lakewood Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit (NYSEFC GIGP)
- Construction nearing completion (Engineer: Barton & Loguidice; Contractor: Kingsview; Other construction services by Village DPW)
- Substantial completion walk through was conducted on 11/9/21. Completion of final punch list items are in process.
- Key features include: permeable pavers in 3 intersections and curb areas (2 blocks) and a continuous tree trench with 11 storm water street trees planted in structural soils
- 2018 Busti Precision Swales Stabilization (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Construction is nearing completion by Rock of WNY (EcoStrategies engineering/inspection & Town Highway performing in-kind work)
- Completion of final punch list items by the contractor and in-kind construction by the Town is in process
- 2018 Skimming Capital Equipment (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Skimmers delivered by Alpha Boats to CLA June 2021
- Skimmers in use on Chautauqua Lake supporting the Joint-Operations Program
- Grant close-out underway
- 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, and Prendergast Creeks, closed ca. Oct 2020
- 2017 Celoron Park Improvement (Amenities Building) LWRP Phase IV Grant, closed ca. Mar 2021
T. West also briefed the board on recent events attended by Alliance staff, and events held on Chautauqua Lake. These include:
- Adirondack-Champlain Regional Salt Summit held on October 14, 2021.
- Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Symposium held on October 28, 2021, which was sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, SUNY Fredonia, and Corning Incorporated and included presentations from academic researchers and staff from the NYSDEC on research and possible mitigation techniques of HABs. The Symposium included information on the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers HABITATS pilot program. A new technical report on the effectiveness of the HABITATS program on Chautauqua Lake can now be found on the Resources tab of the Alliance website.
- The 2021 Head 2 Head Pro Walleye Series Championship held on Chautauqua Lake from October 8-14, including learn-to-fish events for children.
- Stihl’s Reel in the Outdoors with Joe Thomas recently aired on the Outdoor Channel after filming on Chautauqua Lake in June.
V. Alliance Committees Update
a.) Audit Committee
Audit Committee Chairman P. Chagnon indicated that the Audit Committee had met with auditor Rob Kocur on November 10, 2021. P. Chagnon indicated that the Committee was presented with the audit of the 2020 financial statements and the Alliance balance sheet, and that the audit opinion was clean. P. Chagnon indicated that financial statements and the Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) from the audit will be available to the Board from the Alliance office. P. Chagnon said that the Committee included Treasurer J. Andrews, B. Erickson, in addition to Ted McCague of the Village of Lakewood and Greg Lyle of the Audubon Community Nature Center. P. Chagnon thanked those involved for working through the audit process.
P. Chagnon made a motion on behalf of the Committee (who had unanimously accepted the audit at the end of their meeting) to accept the Form 990 and CHAR500 (New York State Annual Filing for Charitable Organizations) documents. That motion was seconded by M. Hutchings and was passed unanimously.
B. Erickson indicated that the audit presentation was very clean.
b.) Data Analysis and Research Committee
R. Perry indicated that there had not been a Committee update since the previous meeting.
c.) Lake Management Committee
M. Latone indicated that researchers from North Carolina State University had performed a weed survey in September, and that results will hopefully be available by the end of the year. M. Latone indicated that he had met with NYSDEC officials at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel a month ago to view conditions in the South Basin and discuss future management actions. M. Latone indicated that he would like to get herbicide permit applications submitted by January.
D. Conroe indicated that M. Latone offered a report of activities performed by a Member organization, not the Lake Management Committee itself, which has not met.
B. Erickson thanked D. Conroe for that clarification.
M. Latone indicated that the Committee indeed has not met and is planning its next meeting.
d.) Watershed Management Committee
D. Shepherd indicated that the Watershed Management Committee has not met since the last update.
VI. 2021-2022 Alliance Consolidated Foundation Grant Program Update
R. Perry indicated that the Board finalized a funding request for participating foundations that is in the process of being submitted. R. Perry thanked all those who participated in the review process and the Board for their work to finalize the Consolidated Funding Request to the Foundations. R. Perry indicated that it could be several months before the Foundations respond to the request. R. Perry indicated that when/if funding is secured by the Alliance the results will be shared once the awards to each individual project are finalized.
J. Wehrfritz asked if the Board approved award levels or a ranking based on project submissions and technical reviews.
B. Erickson indicated that the Board reviewed the submissions and technical scores carefully, and indicated that the Board arrived at a total funding request of $800,000. B. Erickson indicated that the exact distribution of those funds will be determined later, based upon available funding.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that this process was different than the process last year. J. Wehrfritz indicated that in October of 2020, the Board released their rankings of proposed projects. J. Wehrfritz indicated that Members did not have to wait until January or February to see how projects were ranked.
B. Erickson indicated that technical rankings are available.
J. Wehrfritz asked if those could be shared as they were in 2020.
R. Perry indicated that until Foundation funding is awarded, there are no awards to be made. R. Perry indicated that the process is different this year in that a draft of potential allocations was circulated last year and not this year. R. Perry indicated that the awards cannot be finalized until the Foundations respond to the Alliance request for funding.
M. Hutchings indicated that technical review scores were looked at closely. M. Hutchings indicated that it remains to be seen if the increase (from years prior) of requested funds will be met by the Foundations.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that information on where the board ended up is not being shared this year as it was in 2020. J. Wehrfritz indicated he felt that this was a decrease in transparency.
M. Hutchings indicated that the recommended funding allocations would be made available once the Alliance knows how much they will receive from the foundations. M. Hutchings indicated that there is nothing that could be done with that information at this time.
J. Wehrfritz cited a letter that was sent from P. Chagnon to Town of Ellery Supervisor Arden Johnson about improvements that would be made to the application process. J. Wehrfritz cited the lack of preliminary results being shared as a decrease in transparency.
J. Jablonski asked if grant periods will run a year starting after the date at which the awards are made.
R. Perry indicated that in the previous year the starting point for grants was as soon as the Board was able to authorize them after receiving funds from the Foundations. R. Perry indicated that this is typically in early February, and indicated that a similar timeframe can also be expected this year.
W. Gleason indicated an example, asking if a grant is awarded on February 1, would the reporting deadline fall on February 1 of the following year. W. Gleason indicated that in the past final reports have been due within 30 days of the grant being closed out.
R. Perry indicated that was correct.
B. Erickson indicated that the Alliance has often worked to extend grants when possible, given approval from the Foundations. B. Erickson indicated that the Alliance will do its best to work with members on any timeline issues.
D. Champ asked if the local funding approach correlates with or can be connected to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
P. Chagnon indicated that to this point he was unaware of any dovetailing that has been done between those funding sources.
A discussion followed of the connections between different federal, State and local funding sources and their respective timelines.
C. Pinkoski indicated that the Ball Creek Stabilization Project may be an example of dovetailing, as the Foundations provided funding for phase 1 of the project and a 2021 New York State Consolidated Funding Application was submitted for phase 2.
P. Chagnon indicated that Town of North Harmony ARPA funds may be used for that project as well.
J. Wehrfritz asked if there was Alliance involvement with the evaluation of $250,000 in ARPA
funding that is slated to be directed to The Jefferson Project at Lake George. J. Wehrfritz indicated that he feels The Jefferson Project was awarded funding without having to compete against other lake maintenance programs and projects.
P. Chagnon indicated that the $250,000 in question was ARPA funding and not County funding, and that the funds were going directly to The Jefferson Project and were not passing through the Alliance.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that R. Perry was listed as the responsible party for The Jefferson Project line item on the County listing of ARPA allocations.
R. Perry indicated that he was asked for and provided information about the program to the County during the legislative review process.
P. Chagnon indicated that decisions regarding ARPA funding were made by the County Legislature, and that each municipality is making similar decisions to determine how to use those funds.
J. Wehrfritz asked who made the decision to give $250,000 to The Jefferson Project.
P. Chagnon indicated that the County Legislature made that decision.
J. Wehrfritz asked if there was any consideration of competition with other projects proposed through the RFA process.
P. Chagnon indicated that the County Legislature worked on the ARPA funding allocation for 2.5 months, with a great degree of discussion on suggestions.
J. Wehrfritz asked who brought The Jefferson Project opportunity to the Legislature.
P. Chagnon indicated that County Executive P. J. Wendel made that suggestion.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that during the HABs Symposium attended by Alliance staff and others, that internal loading was not addressed. J. Wehrfritz indicated that the Total Maximum Daily Load document shows that internal loading is by far the largest source of Phosphorus in the lake.
J. Wehrfritz indicated that R. Perry is listed as a responsible partner in the County ARPA spreadsheet for the Phase II sewer extension. J. Wehrfritz asked what the Alliance role will be in that project.
R. Perry indicated that his role as listed in that spreadsheet was to share information with Mark Geise and others at the County level who were assessing potential projects. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance did prepare a NYSCFA on behalf of the County for the Phase II extension which is still pending.
A discussion followed regarding planning and funding sources for the Phase II extension, and the role of the Alliance in that project.
B. Moon indicated he has fished the South Basin for 70 years. B. Moon indicated that he has never seen the lake with as many weeds as it had this year, indicating the weeds in question were all milfoil. B. Moon asked if anything can be done about the conditions.
B. Erickson indicated he had heard information that herbicides are not plant selective, but they are somewhat plant selective. B. Erickson indicated that lake management has been ongoing in the lake for over 100 years, that no solution had been found yet, and it remains to be seen if there is a solution, in his opinion.
M. Hutchings indicated that work is being done with the NYSDEC to develop a better plan and more expedient process for targeted herbicide treatments.
A discussion followed of potential macrophyte management strategies and past effectiveness.
D. Emhardt indicated that new weed beds have been created in some areas due to sediment covering rocks on the lake floor.
B. Erickson indicated that older surveys show a greater average depth in the South Basin than is currently measured, due to sedimentation over the years.
A discussion followed of dredging feasibility.
D. Champ asked that those in attendance pay their respects to those honored by Veterans Day. D. Champ indicated that a piece was recently published by the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium (CCC), outlining misconceptions regarding herbicide treatments. D. Champ asked if the DAR Committee or the Alliance generally could play a role in addressing the types of claims made in this article. D. Champ indicated his desire for a response to the article.
B. Erickson thanked D. Champ for his points. B. Erickson outlined past difficulties in terms of the science committee arriving at a consensus.
J. Wehrfritz suggested reorganizing the science committee to achieve better results.
D. Shepherd suggested the Alliance should evaluate the references used to support the article and also the references that Bob Johnson has, and look for peer-reviewed confirmation of the information. D. Shepherd indicated that peer-reviewed information should be the goal.
D. Champ recommended that a solution be pursued to rectify these types of disparate positions on lake issues.
B. Erickson indicated support for allowing different entities to express their opinions.
J. Wehrfritz asked if the Alliance had shared the document through its distribution lists.
B. Erickson indicated they had not.
J. Wehrfritz expressed his support for showing the document to the DAR Committee, and indicated that the Alliance not distributing the document was a positive thing.
M. Hutchings made a motion to adjourn the November 11, 2021 meeting. The motion was seconded by D. Emhardt and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 11/11/21 Meeting Minutes on 12/09/21.