CHAUTAUQUA – Chautauqua Institution has signed on to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy.
The MOA is a document that was finalized and put forward by Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello last week. It was unanimously approved by the Chautauqua County Legislature on the same day it was made public. The document seeks to bring together lake stakeholders so they can more effectively work together to manage invasive aquatic plants, nuisance native vegetation, and hazardous algal blooms in the lake.
Chautauqua Institution President Michael Hill said the MOA represents a comprehensive and scientifically sound approach for Chautauqua Lake conservation.
“I proudly signed this memorandum on behalf of Chautauqua Institution because it represents the comprehensive and scientifically sound approach for Chautauqua Lake conservation that we’ve been advocating for many years,” Hill said. “We are hopeful that all other agencies and municipalities will join us in signing the MOA and supporting this incredibly important strategy. We thank County Executive Borrello for his resolute leadership on this crucial issue. While Chautauqua Lake faces many challenges, we’re confident that with an independently sourced, science-based comprehensive approach and the support and leadership of a consensus of stakeholders, we will save and preserve Chautauqua Lake as the source of so much of our livelihood in Chautauqua County.”
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 and Watershed Management Alliance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), and the consulting firm Ecology and Environment, Inc. (E&E). E&E, which is headquartered in Lancaster, New York, facilitated three meetings earlier this year, where it met with key lake stakeholders to discuss their most pressing issues and concerns surrounding the management of weeds and harmful algal blooms in Chautauqua Lake. These stakeholders included representatives from Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Fishing Alliance, 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. Other input, which was also considered in the development of the MOA, was communicated to the county executive during informal meetings and in written form.
As part of the information-gathering phase for the consensus strategy, Hill and Chautauqua Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations John Shedd accompanied Borrello and several other county officials and leaders on an October trip to Lake George, New York, to learn about a successful model for lake conservation. In just five years, Lake George stakeholders have united behind a consensus strategy that uses sound, validated science to spur decisions, greatly and demonstrably improving the health and water quality of a lake with challenges similar to Chautauqua Lake.
Last year Chautauqua Institution led an effort to sue the state, saying it didn’t follow proper procedure when approving an application to use herbicides in certain areas of the lake. That challenge took place in Erie County Supreme court and was dismissed near the end of December.
But the lawsuit was just one example of the infighting that has taken place in regards to lake Management and it lead to Borrello to call for a “cease fire” amongst the various stakeholders, via the consensus document.
The Institution is one of the first stakeholders to sign off on the MOA for the consensus. The deadline to sign on to the MOA is April 17.
Those that do not are in jeopardy of missing out on funding for projects they support to battle the weeds and algal blooms that have been occurring more frequently on the lake in recent years.