CLMC Releases Plans To Benefit Chautauqua Lake

Recently completed Alliance-partnered shoreline improvement project at the Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron. Project partners included the Village of Celoron, New York State Department of State and Alliance. This Village- and State-funded project implemented a key recommendation of the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan by replacing a dilapidated concrete breakwall and constructing a multi-use raised timber boardwalk and handicap-accessible floating kayak launch, among other waterfront improvements. Submitted photos

The Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance evolved from the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission. Since its inception in 2005 and pursuant to its core mission, the CLMC was a major contributor to the development of the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan and initiated work on the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy, which sets forth specific recommendations for the proper management of our precious natural resources. The CLMC was an advisory committee to the Chautauqua County Legislature and having accomplished its core mission, it was determined that the CLMC would sunset in 2014 in order to evolve into a new Alliance.

The alliance framework was developed through a series of stakeholder meetings, significant research and forward-thinking innovation. It was established in order to secure funding to implement the recommendations determined under the lake and watershed plans. The alliance also aims to strengthen existing relationships among member organizations already engaged in important lake and watershed activities, and to promote a comprehensive and coordinated effort to ensure the sustained health, ecology, and uses of Chautauqua Lake and its watershed.

This alliance is for the benefit of all Chautauqua Lake and watershed stakeholders and our primary objective is to collaborate and coordinate locally in order to secure state and federal funds (as well as funds from other sources outside the county) for alliance members and member projects via grant writing and leveraging local dollars. The alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization.

The group’s mission: The Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance, working in collaboration with lake and watershed-related organizations, municipalities and other stakeholders, will promote and facilitate implementation of recommendations from the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan and the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy by prioritizing projects, securing funding and allocating resources.

By working in collaboration with as many stakeholders as possible, we deepen our collective focus, strength and leveraging capabilities, for the benefit of Chautauqua Lake, its watershed, and ultimately our Community.

In 2017, heightened community concern about the health of the lake — and differing views on which expenditures and projects would have the most beneficial impact — led the alliance to seek a more objective, transparent approach for prioritizing projects and allocating resources.

The resulting Five-Year Implementation Strategy for the Management of Chautauqua Lake and Its Watershed (2018-2022) offers a structured decision-making process and template to guide decisions about which lake and watershed projects should be pursued and/or funded. The project team developed a multi-criteria analysis tool based on the current science, engineering and technology of lake and watershed management. These technical criteria are weighted with respect to input from the local community regarding what ecosystem functions are of greatest value.

The multi-criteria analysis tool enables the Alliance to explicitly address the tradeoffs inherent in prioritizing project opportunities. It applies decision criteria to evaluate projects, assigns a weighting factor to each criterion, and allows users to score the criteria consistently and objectively on a project-by-project basis. The criteria include environmental factors which are weighted most heavily, as well as social and economic factors. Separate criteria are applied to watershed and in-lake projects, and a set of general criteria is applied to all projects:

WATERSHED

¯ Reduction in nutrient loading

Recently completed Alliance-partnered streambank stabilization project along Ball Creek in North Harmony. Project partners included the County of Chautauqua, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Alliance. A County investment of about $22,000 from the Occupancy Tax Program and reallocated CLMC capital funds leveraged an additional $66,000 in NYS grant funds to complete the project, which included the stabilization of an approximately 250-foot-long section of severely eroded streambank via bank grading, stone toe and slope protection, bendway weirs (to help redirect flow), channel grade control, and native plantings and invasive species management (to further stabilize the bank and filter runoff). The project will help improve stream and riparian habitat and reduce excessive sediment and nutrient loading to Chautauqua Lake, which are key factors contributing to Harmful Algal Blooms, nuisance macrophyte growth and loss of lake depth. Photo Courtesy of Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy

¯ Reduction in sediment loading

¯ Hydrologic resilience

IN-LAKE

¯ Protective of human health

¯ Reduction of nutrients from lake ecosystem

¯ Protective of ecosystem health

¯ Longevity of effectiveness

¯ Management of invasive species

GENERAL

¯ Plan to measure and report effectiveness

¯ Consistency with existing plans and strategies, and/or consideration of emerging solution

¯ Commitment to stakeholder collaboration

¯ Outreach and education

¯ Potential for leveraging available non-local funding

¯ Disclosure of costs (up front and any future maintenance)

¯ Magnitude of up-front project costs

¯ Spatial — scale — of — project

A key feature of the MCA tool is that it allows the alliance and its collaborators to modify criteria and the weighting structure over time, thus promoting adaptive management while upholding standards of objectivity and transparency.

One of the challenges for the Alliance and its members is to strike a balance between watershed and in-lake management efforts, so the Five-Year Implementation Strategy recommends a general allocation of resources to guide the relative investment of resources from 2018 to 2022. These allocations are divided among watershed measures, in-lake measures and monitoring–a third category that will help the Alliance evaluate the impact of completed projects and provide a basis for adapting and refining the decision support tool. Given community concerns about the urgent need to reduce impairments to recreational uses of the lake, which is an economic engine for the region, the Strategy recommends prioritizing available funds to in-lake measures in 2018, and gradually shifting that allocation toward watershed measures over the five-year period. Monitoring should receive a continual allocation.

The strategy also addresses some uncertainties about the pool of resources and available techniques that will be available for managing Chautauqua Lake in the future. Governor Cuomo’s statewide Harmful Algal Bloom initiative includes Chautauqua as one of 12 priority lakes for which action plans were developed to address the emerging issue of cyanobacterial blooms. The Chautauqua Lake HAB Action Plan, released in June, will affect the universe of permitted actions, the availability of funding and monitoring priorities. The alliance will be able to use the MCA tool to adapt to new opportunities, such as those that have emerged from the HAB Action Plan.

The Alliance is in its fourth year of operation, having experienced significant challenges and success. The alliance is honored to be comprised of member organizations that understand the incredible asset Chautauqua Lake and its watershed are to the county and the entire region. During the first three years of operation the alliance worked with the county and the area foundations to secure $385,000 in funding to be used specifically for the required local cash match on member grant applications. These local match dollars leverage limited local resources to bring state and other funds to our community to fulfill recommendations in the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan and the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy. In those three years the alliance utilized $187,000 of those match funds to bring $2.14 million in state grants to our community, representing over $3.14 million in total project investment in our lake and watershed.

There were 12 active projects during the alliance’s third year of operation for which the alliance was the primary project facilitator. These projects were located in the towns of Busti, Chautauqua, Ellery and North Harmony as well as the villages of Celoron, Lakewood and Mayville. Thus we were working with seven of the nine municipalities that directly border Chautauqua Lake, as well as partnering with the county and other member organizations, to develop impactful projects, secure funding, manage implementation and ensure project completion.

This summer the Alliance developed six projects for pursuit of grant funding to the town of Busti, the village of Lakewood, the town of Ellicott, the Chautauqua Lake Association and the county, and these projects include several other member partners. Grant applications were submitted through the New York State Consolidated Funding Application process. The total value of these six projects is $2.28 million, with requested grant funding in the amount of $1.84 million. We eagerly await notices of grant awards for this year’s CFA submissions, which generally occurs in December.

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Current members of

the Chautauqua Lake and

Watershed Management Alliance:

• Chautauqua — Cattaraugus Board of Realtors

• Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce

• Chautauqua County Government

• Chautauqua Institution

• Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District

• Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

• Chautauqua Lake Association

• Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association

• Chautauqua Lake Partnership

• Chautauqua Utility District

• Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy

• Holmberg Foundation

• Jamestown Audubon Society

• Jamestown Board of Public Utilities

• The Lenna Foundation

• State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Allegany Region

• North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District

• South & Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District

• Town of Busti

• Town of Chautauqua

• Town of Ellery

• Town of Ellicott

• Town of North Harmony

• Village of Bemus Point

• Village of Celoron

• Village of Lakewood

• Village of Mayville

COMMENTS