MAYVILLE – An effort to get all Chautauqua Lake stakeholders literally on the same page when it comes to managing invasive weeds and other nuisances has taken a major step forward.
On Wednesday morning Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello unveiled a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy.
According to Borrello, the MOA brings together lake agencies and organizations, as well as the municipalities located around Chautauqua Lake, so they can more effectively work together to manage invasive aquatic plants, nuisance native vegetation, and hazardous algal blooms on the lake while being considerate of man’s uses and the environment.
“There are many agencies and stakeholders around Chautauqua Lake that are committed to improving the quality and usability of the lake,” said Borrello. “The differences of opinion regarding how this should be done have resulted in a contentious environment where little forward progress can be made. This consensus strategy will help bring everyone together as we work toward our common goals of addressing and controlling the weeds in Chautauqua Lake while protecting its ecology.”
Borrello says the consensus strategy was developed through a collaboration of the County Executive’s Office, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, representatives from the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), and the consulting firm, Ecology and Environment, Inc. (E&E).
“Working closely with E&E, we were able to identify essential issues and concerns of the primary stakeholders associated with weed management in Chautauqua Lake,” said Mark Geise, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development. “With this input, we identified key topics, as well as consensus positions for each of these themes, which are important to these stakeholders. These essentially became the 24 tenets of the strategy’s MOA, which will help guide future weed management initiatives.”
Borrello said the plan will involve all of Chautauqua Lake but will immediately address concerns in the lower end of the lake near the Burtis Bay area between Lakewood and Celoron. He said it will call for a multifaceted approach to dealing with the weed problem that has plagued that area of the lake the past few years.
“This is going to be the first opportunity for us to combine the use of herbicides along with creating some strategic buffer zones, essentially. Using the natural weeds that are there to trap a lot of the fragments while having channels through those weeds to help with navigation. I believe that over the long-run we’ll be able to do this and use this as a model for other areas as well,” Borrello said during a Wednesday morning press conference.
Key lake stakeholders also offered input. They included the Chautauqua Fishing Alliance, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Town of Busti, Town of Chautauqua, Town of Ellery, Town of Ellicott, Town of North Harmony, Village of Celoron, and Village of Lakewood.
The MOA was approved by the county legislature in an emergency resolution last night and other stakeholders are expected to sign off on it in the coming days.
A copy of the MOA, along with the 24 tenets, is available on the County Executive’s website.