Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Work Session
Thursday, October 12, 2023
4:30 p.m. at the BWB Building, 201 West 3rd St. Jamestown, NY 14701 & via Zoom
Directors Present: Bruce Erickson, Ellen Barnes, Don Emhardt, Martin Proctor, Paul (P.J.) Wendel, Jr., Janis Bowman (via Zoom), Jim Andrews
Directors Absent: Mike LaTone
Staff in Attendance: Randall Perry – Alliance Executive Director, Taylor West – Alliance Project Manager, and Jay Young – Alliance Communications Coordinator.
I. Call to Order
B. Erickson called the Board Meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:31 PM. A quorum of 8 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 9/14/2023 Board Meeting Minutes
J. Andrews made a motion to accept the minutes from the 9/14/23 Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously.
III. Financial Report
R. Perry indicated that this month there is an unaudited Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement through 9/30/23 in addition to the usual monthly summary report. R. Perry indicated that the latest financial report will show changes from funds recently moved to higher interest accounts. R. Perry indicated that the payment of 2023 grant funds is wrapping up, and that final reports and other deliverables for those grants will be forthcoming. R. Perry indicated that there has been a larger amount of grant funds running through the Alliance in 2023 than in previous years.
M. Proctor made a motion to accept the financial report as presented. The motion was seconded by J. Johnson and was passed unanimously.
IV. Alliance Committees
a.) Data Analysis & Research Committees
J. Johnson asked if there have been any developments on updating the membership of the Committee.
R. Perry indicated that no Board action has been taken, and that the Committee is still without a chair. R. Perry indicated that members of the DAR met with the board in August to discuss the Committee’s membership and roles. R. Perry indicated DAR member Dan Josephson participated in the Alliance’s technical review for the Consolidated Local Funding Program. R. Perry indicated that he would suggest calling an organizational meeting of the Committee in the coming months, and that the Board could move forward from there.
b.) Lake Management Committee
R. Perry indicated that the Committee had a meeting on September 12, 2023, which was helpful to discuss the maintenance season and plan late-season work. R. Perry indicated that the next meeting is expected to be scheduled sometime in March 2024. R. Perry thanked all those who have been participating in those meetings.
c.) Watershed Management Committee
R. Perry indicated there was no update from the Committee.
d.) Audit Committee
R. Perry indicated that the Committee is waiting to hear from the auditor about its next meeting, which is likely to be scheduled around the end of October or early November.
V. 2023-2024 Alliance Membership Drive Update
R. Perry indicated that all current Alliance Members have renewed their memberships for the coming year, and thanked all those for doing so. R. Perry thanked the Board for their assistance and M. LaTone in particular for his help during the membership drive. R. Perry indicated he has been in contact with the Chautauqua Property Owners Association, an Alliance founding Member, about potentially renewing its membership.
VI. 2023 NYSDEC Invasive Species Grant Opportunity
a.) Chautauqua Lake Prendergast Point Starry Stonewort Control Project (Town of Chautauqua)
Discussion occurred in combination with discussion for Agenda Item VI(b) below.
b.) Chautauqua Lake Ashville Bay Starry Stonewort Control Project (Town of North Harmony)
T. West indicated that the state recently reopened its invasive species grant opportunity. T. West indicated that the Alliance is currently working with the Towns of North Harmony and Chautauqua to draft two applications, which if successful would fund diver-assisted suction harvesting programs for starry stonewort at Ashville Bay and Prendergast Point. T. West indicated that the Alliance has engaged DASH firms including AE Commercial Diving and Integrated Lakes Management, as well as consultant Princeton Hydro and the DEC, in preparing those applications.
c.) Local Match Needs
R. Perry indicated that these grants have a maximum funding award of $100,000 each, which could be very helpful in bringing DASH work to the lake. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance has had three meetings with DEC on starry stonewort, one related to the modified Mobitrac removal pilot, which was permitted for and complete in 1.5 acres in Ashville Bay. R. Perry indicated that this removal appears to have been quite successful, although it may be a short-term control measure. R. Perry indicated that a second DEC meeting was held along with the Chautauqua Lake Partnership and Rob Richardson of North Carolina State University to discuss potential chemical treatments of the invasive algae. R. Perry indicated that it seemed from that meeting that a pilot test of chemical treatment in a smaller area may be the most likely to receive state permitting. R. Perry indicated that a third meeting was held on the DASH approach, and indicated that state officials were more receptive to using that method of removal on a large scale if funding could be secured. R. Perry indicated that given the state’s confidence in the DASH technique, that is what is being pursued via the state grant pathway. R. Perry indicated that there would be a $25,000 minimum match need for each $100,000 grant. R. Perry indicated he has had discussions with B. Erickson and County Watershed Coordinator Dave McCoy about the need for match funding. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance currently has $57,332 in County funds that have yet to be allocated in 2023. R. Perry indicated that those funds could be transferred to an Emerging Invasive Species Response Fund, and potentially used as match for these grants if needed. R. Perry indicated that if the grants are not secured, or match is not needed, the funds could then be used to fund other emerging invasive species management.
J. Johnson asked about the size of the potential DASH program.
R. Perry indicated that currently there are around 11 acres at Prendergast Point and three acres in Ashville Bay. R. Perry indicated that there may be an opportunity to write the grant applications in a way that would allow for both initial DASH removal and follow-up work, if needed.
J. Johnson asked if, given that a 2023 survey performed by NC State showed around 90 total acres of starry stonewort in the lake, could these applications be written to cover a wider area?
B. Erickson indicated that in his conversations with R. Perry, he had proposed moving 2023 unallocated grant funds to a new joint fund, in light of the fact that conditions were much better than expected this year and not as much work was needed. B. Erickson asked D. Emhardt about the success of the modified Mobitrac removal of starry stonewort in Ashville Bay, indicating he had heard positive results.
D. Emhardt indicated that the success of the project is still to be determined. D. Emhardt indicated that there was a learning curve on the first day of work, as there is a large amount of debris in the bay that can catch and damage Mobitrac forks. D. Emhardt indicated that new forks were used on the second day, which appeared to work much better.
R. Perry indicated that T. Leenders issued a preliminary report that the removal worked quite well in terms of biomass removal but it seems like a low carpet of starry stonewort remained in parts of the Mobitrac work area. R. Perry indicated that T. Leenders will be producing a final report for the DEC. R. Perry indicated that T. Leenders had suggested that a combined approach, using first Mobitrac removal and then possibly DASH, may be a good strategy. R. Perry indicated that R. Richardson was working to assess chemical management options with CLP, but that a challenge with those may be difficulty in treating material that is both above and below the sediment.
B. Erickson indicated that there are also capital concerns to consider with unallocated funds. B. Erickson indicated that if a new account is going to be set up, it would be important to have flexibility in its use.
P. Wendel indicated that the new fund could function similar to a municipal fund balance. P. Wendel indicated that this year was an anomaly, because there was not the need for certain levels of work.
The Board agreed to continue discussion on the match funding needs for the starry stonewort grant applications at a later point in the meeting (see section IX of these minutes).
VII. 2023 Alliance Local Grant Program
R. Perry indicated that the meeting packet includes a table showing the status of each current local Alliance grant. R. Perry indicated that the Alliance also received $40,000 from the Holmberg Foundation in the middle of the year that remains unallocated.
P. Wendel indicated that there were some issues related to the County funds that were provided to the CLA for late-season work, and guarantees related to that grant award. P. Wendel indicated that there are challenges when it comes to expending funds and scheduling maintenance during a year when conditions are better than expected.
J. Johnson indicated it is important to consider that different grant awards come with different stipulations about what the funds can be spent on.
R. Perry indicated that generally the foundations are very receptive to the Alliance Board requesting flexibility in allocating grant funds provided that clear rationale is provided and sound documentation is maintained.
VIII. 2023-2024 Alliance Consolidated Local Funding Program Update
a.) Overview of Applications Received and Technical Review
R. Perry briefed the Board on the 2023-2024 Consolidated Local Funding Program process and submissions received by the Alliance from its Members. The Alliance received 17 applications representing 12 different member organizations totaling around $3.23 Million in funding requests. The member applications included $1,712,000 requested for chemical macrophyte management, $897,400 requested for mechanical macrophyte management, $354,940 requested for lake capital equipment, $115,296 requested for invasive species prevention, detection, and response programs, $28,500 for macrophytes monitoring, and $124,090 requested for watershed programs. R. Perry indicated that he thinks this was the first time that every lakeside municipality has been involved in a single solicitation, and that coordination among members continues to be a part of the application process.
b.) Review of Applications
J. Johnson asked if the near-shore support vessel capital equipment request by CLA is likely to work well.
D. Emhardt indicated he thinks the new vessel will work well if purchased. D. Emhardt indicated that this new vessel is likely to work well with the Mobitracs and eliminate some of the difficulties that currently exist with offloading.
T. West indicated that the new vessel is also likely faster than a paddle-drive craft.
J. Johnson asked that, given it is best to try and remove starry stonewort once it has had a chance to grow, would it make sense to extend the Mobitrac season to make sure that those machines are on the water later in the year?
D. Emhardt indicated that scheduling the Mobitrac season has changed over time, and that the Mobitracs have gotten started a bit earlier the last few years, before July. D. Emhardt indicated that in 2023, Burtis Bay was unexpectedly light on material early in the year, while Hartfield Bay had 30-40 feet of material that needed removing. D. Emhardt indicated that Heather Nolan-Caskey of the CLA and Dan Damcott, the Mobitrac supervisor, have been excellent to work with in coordinating the Mobitrac program. D. Emhardt indicated those involved with the program continue to learn a lot, and that there were relatively few breakdowns this past year due to better replacement parts and new modifications. D. Emhardt indicated that recently a Mobitrac facility was closed down, and that the company offered to sell the Town spare parts that they had left over.
P. Wendel indicated that one issue with the scheduling and funding of mechanical maintenance is the distinction that gets made between preseason work, regular season work, and post-season work. P. Wendel indicated that those delineations may be unnecessary, and thinking of the work season as one whole piece may be better.
B. Erickson indicated that CLA budgeting is generally presented in a way that a certain amount of overall funding for a year will allow the organization to continue working up to a certain date.
P. Wendel indicated that it would be good if we could get more information on where starry stonewort is coming from outside of the lake, as it appears to be common at creek mouths, boat launches, and marinas.
J. Johnson indicated that as CLP has been working with the DEC and others, it appears that around $1,000 per acre would be the cost for a smaller pilot test of chemical starry stonewort removal. J. Johnson indicated that it seems likely for 2024 that NYSDEC would require a pilot test of an area smaller than the full 90 acres.
B. Erickson indicated that this all depends on DEC permitting decisions.
R. Perry indicated that he had heard from T. Leenders that an attendee at one of CWC’s Chautauqua Lake invasive species training sessions had recently identified a new invasive species in Lake Erie, indicating the benefit of that program beyond just our lake.
J. Johnson indicated that CLP has recently been conducting drone surveys, and that drone photography may be used in the future to plan for the management of invasives like curly-leaf pondweed.
B. Erickson indicated that at times during the season, especially later in the year, plant debris is mainly caused by native species.
P. Wendel indicated that he thought the Mayville application for a vacuum truck to clean out catch basins is a good idea, however, there may be ways for the Village to fund that work via shared services with the County or another municipality.
J. Johnson asked what the time frame would be for the CWC’s application for a Stormwater Mitigation Study of Goose Creek.
R. Perry indicated that the timeframe for that would likely be fairly short, and that studies of this kind are often required for future outside grant-funded projects such as state Water Quality Improvement Projects.
c.) Board Discussion on 2024 Recommended Project Funding
R. Perry reviewed the past year’s local grant program including amounts requested, awards received from funders, awards made by the Alliance Board, and the work performed. R. Perry indicated that the first deadline to submit the consolidated grant request for 2024 is 11/1/23.
P. Wendel indicated that following conversations with the local foundations and other stakeholders, he supports a shift in focus from maintenance to more proactive management. P. Wendel cited the possible use of drones as an example of how problem areas can be identified early in the year and actively managed by harvesting or other means. P. Wendel asked if the makeup of the Board is something that should be reevaluated. P. Wendel indicated that three groups do the majority of the lake and watershed work, including the CLA, CLP, and CWC. P Wendel indicated that currently not all lakeside municipalities are guaranteed to have a seat on the Alliance Board. P. Wendel indicated that Chautauqua Institution and County Legislators are also possible Board directors to consider. P. Wendel asked if it would be better to have guaranteed seats on the board for certain Alliance Members, like lakeside municipalities. P. Wendel indicated he supports research focused on water quality, macrophytes, and the watershed. P. Wendel indicated that it may be beneficial to have the DAR Committee pivot to a new role in which they take existing surveys and research, and summarize that information for use by the Board.
D. Emhardt indicated that in the past curly-leaf pondweed had been heavily harvested in one area of the North Basin early. D. Emhardt indicated that in that case, the proactive management appeared to have good results.
P. Wendel indicated that cooperation is going to be necessary in order to do more proactive management, and plan new strategies.
E. Barnes indicated that she had recently attended a meeting of a Canandaigua Lake organization, and indicated that they run their programs through a lake manager.
P. Wendel indicated that he had proposed $1 Million in County funds for lake and watershed management this coming year, and that the County Legislature had approved $500,000.
B. Erickson indicated that it would be very helpful if the DEC could grant permits for longer than one year.
A discussion followed of the state wetlands law, potential impacts on the South Basin of the lake, and opportunities to dredge in the lake.
D. Emhardt made a motion to establish a “Lake Maintenance Operations and Capital Fund” and place into the fund $40,000 in currently unallocated Holmberg Foundation 2023 grant funds and $57,332 in currently unallocated County 2023 grant funds. The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was passed unanimously.
J. Johnson made a motion to authorize $50,000 from the Lake Maintenance Operations and Capital Fund to be used as local match funding for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Invasive Species Grant Program applications to be submitted by the Alliance on behalf of the Town of North Harmony ($25,000 in match) and Town of Chautauqua ($25,000 in match) for the Chautauqua Lake Ashville Bay Starry Stonewort Control Project and Chautauqua Lake Prendergast Point Starry Stonewort Control Project, respectively. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was passed unanimously with one abstention (D. Emhardt).
D. Emhardt made a motion to approve an $800,000 Consolidated Funding Request to be submitted by the Alliance to the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, The Lenna Foundation, and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and was approved unanimously.
X. Time and Date of next Board meeting
a.) Follow-up work session to finalize local consolidated funding request in October 2023 (if needed)
The Board agreed to hold a second work session on October 26 at 3:00 p.m. at the BWB Building.
P. Wendel made a motion to adjourn at 6:48 p.m. The motion was seconded by E. Barnes and carried unanimously.
The Alliance Board of Directors passed a motion to approve these 10/12/23 Meeting Minutes on 10/26/23.