Watershed Alliance Measures Funding Requests For Lake Projects

Pierre Chagnon, one of the directors of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, discusses upcoming grant requests for various lake and watershed projects that are meant to increase the health of the area. Funding will be requested from the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

STOW — The Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance considered asking for funding for a dozen projects that were presented by various member organizations to increase the health of the watershed and in-lake area.

Director Pierre Chagnon expressed a plan to submit grant requests to the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to allocate money to fund various projects graded by members of the alliance, its science committee and EcoLogic, LLC. Eight projects of 12 were recommended by the alliance board of directors for some level of funding.

A project submitted by the alliance and another submitted by the Chautauqua Lake Association tied for first place in terms of scores for their proposals. The alliance requested $7,550 for an aquatic invasive species early detection volunteer task force to work on Chautauqua Lake. The board approved asking for the full funding of that amount.

The CLA requested operational support for 2019. Their total projected budget is $1,073,160 for the year, and they asked for $220,000 to be asked for in a grant request. The board decided on asking for $162,000.

“The CLA’s services are considered critical,” Chagnon said in regard to the need for weed harvesting. Funding could contribute to a longer harvesting season that extends into September.

Two projects from the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy were also recommended for funding proposals. A tributary conservation and enhancement program as well as the “Starve the Algae! Save the Lake!” initiative were approved by the board to seek funding.

Local towns made the remaining funding requests that were partially approved by the board to ask for from the foundations. Busti, Ellery, North Harmony and Ellicott all requested funding for 2019 herbicide applications.

Of a total projected budget of $70,000 for the town of Busti, of which the town is willing to contribute $20,000, the alliance is willing to ask for $10,000 in funding. For Ellery’s projected $135,000 budget for herbicides, the town is willing to put in $50,000, and the alliance plans on asking for $10,000.

The alliance also plans on asking for $10,000 for North Harmony and Ellicott each. North Harmony’s herbicide budget is $90,000, and the town is willing to fund $15,000. Ellicott’s total budget for herbicides is $54,000, and the town set no specific amount it will put in itself.

“We did feel it was important to lend support to these projects,” Chagnon said.

Chagnon also mentioned that the $40,000 overall they seek to receive from the foundations for towns’ herbicide treatments will be allocated elsewhere if the towns do not receive permits for the 2019 treatments. If permits are not in by June 1, and if the money is received from the foundations, Chagnon said the funds will be used elsewhere.

Jim Wehrfritz, vice president of the Chautauqua Lake Partnership, asked how member organizations can learn from the project submission process to the alliance. He said that being able to see the details of how other organizations received better scores can help all entities become more competitive for funding in the future.

After initially saying seeing the scoring of other member organizations would be inappropriate, Chagnon said it was an idea the board may consider. Erin Brickley, executive director of the alliance, said organizations will receive feedback regarding how scores were determined and possible funding allocations from the foundations were considered.

“That’s where the learning would be,” Wehrfritz said in support of seeing the scores of the alliance and CLA, the organizations that scored the highest and either received commitments to ask for the highest amount of funding or total funding requested.

Doug Champ, a former environmental review officer for the city of Jamestown, voiced his opinion that “there has to be a mechanism for pass or fail.” He said that an evaluation should be in place for projects that may get funded so that “if they weren’t successful, they shouldn’t get funded again.”

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