Who, Exactly, Isn’t Playing Nicely Over Chautauqua Lake Policy

County Executive George Borrello is going to have a tough time forging any sort of consensus on a Chautauqua Lake plan if Monday is any indication.

Borrello has been working on a memorandum of understanding for a coordinated plan of attack to the weed and algal bloom issues on the lake, with a goal of having the memorandum signed this month. Herbicide use, it appears, is going to be part of Borrello’s solution according to his public statements on the issue.

But, earlier this month, several lake organizations signed their own letter penned by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy stating their preference that herbicides be used only as a last resort. Then, on Monday, a news release from the Chautauqua Lake Association — one of the signers of the conservation statement — laid out the organization’s concerns with herbicide applications submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation by the towns of towns of North Harmony, Busti, Ellicott and Ellery and the villages of Lakewood and Celoron.

Contacted later in the day, Paul Stage, Chautauqua Lake Association board president, said he “would be hard-pressed to find a reason why herbicides should be used in Chautauqua” unless a weed species like hydrilla were to appear in the lake. He also told The Post-Journal that “I think our board is past playing nice. I think our board is taking a position that we’re going to do what is right for the lake in our opinion.”


The CLA sounds like the big bully on the playground. What’s next, taking everybody’s lunch money? We’re not sure why the CLA believes they are the only group that has the absolute answer to the lake’s issues. Perhaps the next time they ask for funding from area foundations, the foundations should remember these comments. Perhaps one determination regarding funding should be an ability to work with other groups.

In the CLA’s opinion, are hundreds of Chautauqua Lake property owners wrong when they ask the people they elect to town or village boards to approve funding for herbicides? Are they mistaken about the conditions they see on their docks or out on their boats? Are they just uneducated dolts who would surely see the light if they saw the CLA’s information?

It would behoove lake groups to remember that there are educated people on both sides of the herbicide debate. There are also educated property owners who are fed up with the status quo.

About a month ago, Borrello said his goal is to have lake groups and the community manage excessive weed growth throughout the lake through short-term solutions including herbicides and weed harvesting while also handling the long-term problem by continuing to invest in projects that decrease nutrient loading and sedimentation in the lake.

“I want people to start seeing collaboration and cooperation,” Borrello said. “I want to see people put down their swords and start working together because if we don’t, the long-term is that the rest of the county is going to turn against Chautauqua Lake, and I would hate to see that happen.”

Amen, Mr. Borrello.


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