Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors – Public Meeting
Thursday, September 9, 2021
4:30 p.m. at the Stow/North Harmony Senior Center, 5377 Stow Ferry Rd. Stow, NY 14785
Directors Present: Pierre Chagnon, Mary Hutchings, Bruce Erickson, Jim Andrews, Don Emhardt, David Shepherd
Absent: Mike Latone, 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: Tory Irgang–Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Cassie Pinkoski – Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD); Linda Swanson– The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation; Mike and Peggy Newell; Doug Champ
Member Representatives in Attendance: Dr. Jim Cirbus–Chautauqua Lake Partnership; Dave McCoy– County of Chautauqua; John Jablonski– Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy; Dr. Rudy Mueller–Chautauqua Lake Association; Pat McLaughlin–Town of Ellicott; Karen Rine – South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer Districts
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 6 out of 9 Alliance Board Members were present at the start of the meeting.
II. Approval of 8/12/21 Minutes
D. Emhardt made a motion to accept the minutes from the 8/12/21 Work Session Meeting. A discussion followed regarding amendments to the minutes.
M. Hutchings indicated she had contacted Alliance staff wishing to clarify her comments related to CLA service in the South Basin and the relationship between CLA membership/contribution and service. Further discussion occurred, but no amendments were made to the draft minutes as presented at the meeting because the edits requested by M. Hutchings were made prior to the meeting and included in the final draft.
The motion was seconded by M. Hutchings and was approved unanimously.
II. 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 is anticipated to be completed in October 2021 (Engineer: Bergmann; Contractor: Rock of WNY)
- 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 underway (Engineer: Barton & Loguidice; Contractor: Kingsview; Other construction services by Village DPW)
- Village businesses on Chautauqua Ave. remain open.
- 2018 Busti Precision Swales Stabilization (NYSDEC WQIP)
- Construction is nearing completion by Rock of WNY (EcoStrategies engineering/inspection & Town Highway performing in-kind work); anticipated completion Summer/Fall 2021
- Completion of final punch list items by the contractor 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
D. Shepherd asked about a recent local newspaper article related to change orders approved by the Village of Lakewood for its Chautauqua Avenue Green Street Retrofit Project, and whether the costs of those change orders would be borne by local taxpayers. R. Perry indicated that it is expected that the majority of those change order costs will not be borne by local taxpayers. J. Jablonski inquired about financial arrangements between the Village and Barton & Loguidice. R. Perry indicated that the Village and Barton & Loguidice had made certain arrangements, but those details would be up to the Village to discuss rather than discussing them at this meeting.
V. Alliance Committees Update
- a.) Alliance Data Analysis and Research (DAR) Committee Update
R. Perry indicated that an update is not available as the Committee has not met since the previous board meeting. R. Perry indicated that another meeting is expected to be scheduled after the conclusion of the field research season.
- b.) Alliance Lake Management Committee Update
B. Erickson indicated that late-season cleanup efforts were coordinated at the Committee’s previous meeting. B. Erickson indicated that D. Emhardt and D. Conroe communicated a plan to use Chautauqua Lake Association (CLA) equipment and Town of Chautauqua Mobitracs to conduct a final shoreline sweep of the lake, beginning work in Burtis Bay. B. Erickson indicated that there is still storm debris present at some locations.
D. Emhardt indicated that a crew would be picking up storm debris in Bemus Point and then proceeding to the North Basin and Hartfield Bay.
M. Hutchings indicated that she had received positive feedback about the late-season work being done.
J. Cirbus asked if Mobitracs are capable of cleaning up larger debris from storms, such as timber.
D. Emhardt indicated they are capable, and that the Mobitracs will be working with the Town of Ellery to remove storm debris. D. Emhardt indicated that one Mobitrac had recently been damaged by an underwater obstacle. D. Emhardt indicated that three Mobitracs are currently in operation, and that one of the three would be heading to Bemus Point for cleanup before heading to the North Basin.
B. Erickson indicated that it was unusual for storm debris to flow up-lake after leaving Bemus Creek during the large summer storms. B. Erickson acknowledged the efforts of the Village of Bemus Point in helping the CLA with hauling away storm debris.
D. Emhardt indicated that Mobitracs can often get closer into shore than CLA harvesters and skimmers.
M. Newell asked if the public can contact someone if they spot debris that needs to be cleaned up, citing a large log near West Chadakoin Street.
B. Erickson indicated he would pass along that information to CLA.
- c.) Watershed Management Committee Update
R. Perry indicated that the Watershed Management Committee met for the first time in five months on August 31, 2021 to discuss New York State Grant Applications submitted in July, ongoing watershed projects, and potential future projects.
R. Perry indicated that the Alliance is in communication with Dr. George Bullerjahn from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and is currently waiting for an update on the research that has been conducted during the 2021 field season. R. Perry indicated that the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) is interested in receiving a research update as well.
J. Cirbus indicated that the most troubling data from BGSU were high levels of E.coli found in Ball Creek. J. Cirbus asked if that information had been presented to the Chautauqua County Health Department.
R. Perry indicated that there has been some initial communication between CWC staff and Chautauqua County Director of Environmental Health Bill Boria regarding Ball Creek, and indicated that he has contacted BGSU to request actual data that can then be shared with B. Boria.
K. Rine asked for clarification on the Lake Management Committee meeting and the makeup of the Committee.
R. Perry offered an explanation of the Committee’s constituents, including the CLA and CLP, municipal representatives, and two at-large positions.
R. Perry indicated that information from those meetings is shared with municipalities.
K. Rine asked if the public has been invited to attend those meetings.
R. Perry indicated that the intent of the Committee when it was formed was to have municipal officials serve as proxy representatives for the public.
V. 2021-2022 Alliance Consolidated Foundation Grant Program Update
R. Perry indicated that Alliance Consolidated Foundation Grant Program applications are due by 4 p.m. on September 14, 2021, and offered Alliance assistance to any members during the process. R. Perry indicated that Members will receive notification when applications are received.
VI. Discussion on 2021 Holmberg Foundation Grant
B. Erickson indicated that some funds from the Holmberg Foundation Grant provided to the Alliance had been allocated to the Town of Chautauqua for its Mobitrac dredge pump project.
D. Emhardt indicated that the pump was currently in transit.
B. Erickson indicated that plans for late-season cleanup were laid out in the Lake Management Committee meeting, and that the Alliance has received a request from the CLA for $10,000 to cover those labor costs. B. Erickson asked for a motion to award those funds to the CLA.
P. Chagnon asked for a clarification on the timeline of the late-season work.
B. Erickson indicated that crews would work as long as funding allowed for.
M. Hutchings asked for a clarification on the CLA’s operating budget.
R. Mueller indicated that the budget is roughly divided into thirds, with government funds, Alliance funds and private donations making up the majority of the budget.
D. Shepherd made a motion to approve awarding $10,000 in funds from the Alliance’s Holmberg Foundation Grant to the CLA.
The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was passed unanimously.
B. Erickson indicated his support for D. Emhardt’s Mobitrac dredge pump pilot project.
M. Newell indicated he supported new technological solutions.
R. Mueller indicated he did not believe that CLA crews were in the South Basin after Labor Day in 2020, and was hopeful that late-season cleanup in those areas in 2021 would improve conditions in the spring of 2022.
M. Newell indicated that in 2018 a storm occurred in late October and a fish kill resulted in early November in Burtis Bay. M. Newell indicated that there ought to be equipment ready to react to those types of situations.
B. Erickson indicated that one issue is safety of operation during cold weather.
D. Shepherd indicated that $5,000 is still remaining from the Holmberg Foundation Grant.
B. Erickson asked if the Holmberg Foundation would approve of placing the funds in an account for possible use in late fall or early spring.
D. Shepherd indicated that contacting the Foundation may be appropriate. It was determined that R. Perry would follow up with the Holmberg Foundation.
P. McLaughlin thanked CLA and the Town of Chautauqua for their late-season cleanup efforts. P. McLaughlin indicated he had received information that some CLA representatives will voice their objections to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation about the use of herbicides in the South Basin. P. McLaughlin indicated he would likely budget municipal funds to give to the CLA in light of the late-season cleanup, but indicated he would not do so if objections are made to the NYSDEC about the use of herbicides.
B. Erickson indicated that there is a time and place for herbicides, and that shoreline cleanup is needed even if herbicides are used. B. Erickson indicated that there is no single solution to lake maintenance issues, many of which are driven by natural processes. B. Erickson indicated that the CLA has published its work reports every week throughout the summer. B. Erickson indicated that the DEC is the ultimate arbiter of herbicide permitting.
J. Cirbus indicated that at the previous Lake Management Committee meeting a CLA representative had indicated that the use of herbicides as proposed at the meeting would receive opposition.
B. Erickson indicated that he recalled Doug Conroe saying that when used properly there is a place for herbicides.
J. Cirbus indicated he was referring to a separate comment, one that he voiced objection to. J. Cirbus indicated that opposition of that type is not helpful to the Alliance, and that he has spoken to R. Mueller about the issue. J. Cirbus indicated that the NYSDEC takes into account public feedback when considering herbicide permitting. J. Cirbus indicated that a member of the Data Analysis & Research Committee had written an article in The Post-Journal blaming herbicide use for the conditions in Burtis Bay. J. Cirbus indicated there was no science to support that claim. J. Cirbus indicated there needs to be more of an effort to develop a consensus.
C. Pinkoski indicated that the Lake Management Committee could offer a venue to discuss these issues before herbicide permit applications are submitted to the DEC.
J. Cirbus indicated that may be difficult due to the complexities of funding allocation, permit submission deadlines and other factors.
C. Pinkoski outlined a potential process of communication with the DEC for permits as a possible positive example.
J. Cirbus indicated that the NYSDEC had recently conducted a survey in Burtis Bay where they were aghast at the amount of milfoil present. J. Cirbus indicated that there are also issues with acquiring Alliance funding for potential herbicide treatments due to the timeline.
D. Champ indicated it was frustrating to hear past arguments reiterated once again. D. Champ indicated that lake maintenance efforts are fighting against the natural tendencies of the lake. D. Champ indicated that a consensus should be the goal.
B. Erickson indicated that significant progress has been made in the last two years.
R. Mueller indicated that there are many different opinions, and indicated he would share the concerns mentioned with CLA leadership. R. Mueller indicated that the CLA joint operations program with the Mobitracs has been better in 2021 than in 2020. R. Mueller indicated that he did not believe CLA representatives had reached out to the NYSDEC in the past several weeks regarding the use of herbicides in Chautauqua Lake. R. Mueller indicated that he believed a letter had been sent earlier in the year. R. Mueller indicated he thought there is an appropriate role for herbicides to play in lake maintenance.
M. Newell indicated that during the spring 2019 cleanup in Burtis Bay, shoreline from the Chautauqua Apartments down to Ellicott Park had been addressed. M. Newell indicated that he feels that the park area has been skipped in subsequent years. M. Newell indicated that there is currently dry ground with flora growing 20-25 feet out from the breakwall at West Duquesne Street. M. Newell asked if there was a plan to address those areas. A discussion followed of possible solutions to address the area.
B. Erickson indicated that according to a comment letter that was issued by the NYSDEC, they are discouraging active maintenance in certain areas of the lake.
R. Mueller indicated that he would like to dredge the area out.
P. Chagnon indicated that the NYSDEC had allowed cleanup of the area from shore two years prior.
D. McCoy indicated that the NYSDEC has issued a no-jurisdiction determination in the area to remove accumulations of organic material.
A discussion followed of the 2018-2019 cleanup organization process.
P. McLaughlin indicated that large amounts of milfoil present in Burtis Bay in 2021 will cause poor shoreline conditions.
P. Chagnon indicated that the conditions appear to be different this year than they were in 2019.
D. McCoy indicated that no additional permit is needed to continue maintenance in the area, as long as the cleanup only includes shoreline organic material and does not include dredging the lake bottom.
D. Emhardt indicated that there are other areas of the lake with similar conditions.
J. Jablonski cited the conditions in Hadley Bay as a similar situation.
D. Champ indicated that there are debris and erosion issues along the Chadakoin River below Warner Dam. D. Champ suggested that these issues could possibly be addressed using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
C. Pinkoski indicated that Twan Leenders is looking downstream of the dam at several issues.
M. Newell indicated it may be possible to use an offshore debris boom to improve conditions in Burtis Bay. A discussion followed of available Alliance funding and the process for making proposals to request funding.
P. Chagnon made a motion to adjourn the September 9, 2021 Board meeting. The motion was seconded by J. Andrews and was passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 5:48 PM.