Institution’s Lawsuit Aims To Protect Chautauqua Lake
To The Reader’s Forum:
This letter aims to clarify the purpose of Chautauqua Institution’s Petition filed in Erie County Supreme Court regarding the inadequacy of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) prepared by the Town of Ellery and acted upon by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Chautauqua Lake Partnership (CLP) has published misleading information about the purpose of the petition and has promised to further promote this negative, inaccurate agenda at a lake rally to be held Sept. 1.
Chautauqua Institution’s Court Petition was filed to help protect our community members, our local ecology, and our lake by calling for revisions to the SEIS to adequately address the serious health, safety, and environmental questions raised by county residents and local organizations, including Chautauqua Institution, before any additional herbicides can be introduced into our shared waterways. Several local organizations share our concerns and are joining in the efforts to improve the SEIS so any future herbicide treatments will be done as part of an overall comprehensive storm water management approach and, therefore, will be done safely.
We fully recognize that invasive weed species are posing a challenge for our lake. We understand the negative impact these weeds can have on property values, businesses, and general use and enjoyment of Chautauqua Lake. However, the introduction of herbicides without an understanding of their full impact and without the coordinated use of other conservation and storm water management strategies can actually make the problem worse, interfere with fisheries, and contribute to what is the most significant threat to our lake: Harmful Algal Blooms. We hope that the CLP will join all of the individuals and organizations around Chautauqua Lake who are working together constructively and with open minds to assure the development of a comprehensive, long-term approach to improving and sustaining Chautauqua Lake.
Chautauqua Institution has invested in this region since 1874. Most of our 100+ full-time and 1,500+ part-time seasonal employees work and live in Chautauqua County, making Chautauqua Institution one of the county’s largest employers. Patrons and employees of Chautauqua Institution contribute millions of dollars to our local economies, including through an economy-driving presence in The Town of Ellery/Bemus Point, not to mention the significant tax base generated by Chautauqua property owners that helps support local governments, public education and infrastructure for Chautauqua County residents. We are a mission driven, non-profit organization, and generous, thoughtful Chautauqua County residents and philanthropic organizations have significantly contributed to Chautauqua Institution because of what we do for Chautauqua County. The action we have taken in Erie County Supreme Court aims to protect Chautauqua Lake and therefore the interests of the thousands of individuals, businesses, and other organizations whose livelihood depends on its sustainability and conservation.
Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations
Representative, Chautauqua Lake Steering Committee on Harmful Algal Blooms