Lake Partnership Responds To Criticism

The CLP found a nugget of agreement with Mr. Ward’s comments from April 20. In fact, the CLP has long-advocated for unified Chautauqua Lake management under the leadership of a qualified professional Lake Manager, grounded in the latest lake science, using sound data, following recognized best practices and guided by a long-range plan. The sticking point is the same as it’s always been, there are some Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Alliance member organizations that will never agree that using herbicides should be a part of that plan. Case in point, Mr. Ward’s inflammatory statements, which we feel need to be corrected.

The CLP is hardly a “rogue” organization. Of the 9 towns and villages surrounding the lake, only Mayville, Chautauqua, and N. Harmony do not support herbicide use. In addition, the CLP’s efforts are broadly supported by lakefront homeowners, recreational users of the lake, The Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association, area residents and businesses. The reason for this broad support is simple. Mechanical harvesting alone has been proven inadequate for management of invasive aquatic weeds in Chautauqua Lake.

The CLP does not seek to “undermine science”. Far from it. For example, the CLP drove investment in state-of-the art sensors funded in cooperation with the Great Lakes Initiative and Bowling Green University to collect nutrient loading data throughout the lake. Courtesy of the CLP, these sensors are now being utilized by the Jefferson Project. We have also engaged nationally respected personnel from North Carolina State University to perform independent macrophyte surveys using the latest technology thereby gaining vastly more comprehensive and credible data for management decisions. We use a NALMS (North American Lake Management Society) certified professional Lake Manager to develop and execute the annual herbicide permitting plans based on this data and in full compliance with NYSDEC regulations. Treatments have been strategically targeted to do the best with the least amount of product, with only less than 9% of the lake actually treated over the past four years. This is not “widespread” by any stretch of imagination and there is nothing remotely “wanton” about the process.

We look forward to meaningful results from the Jefferson Project that will help inform actions to improve our lake and appreciate that in spite of possible political pressure, Jefferson Project scientists have been careful not to falsely link herbicide use and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Per the 2023 Final report discussion “In sum, macrophytes influence the likelihood of HABs both positively and negatively.” This refers to the benefits plants provide in reducing nutrient availability to algae, while acknowledging that restriction of water circulation when weeds are too dense can actually favor HABs. They advise with regard to plant removal to “do so in a way that minimizes the potential later decomposition of the plants within the lake.” This concept is a well-established best practice already fully incorporated in the approach used by CLP for herbicide selection, dosage, and timing to maximize control of the invasive, minimize impact on native plants, and minimize overall resulting biomass decay.

The CLP is fully transparent and publishes facts about the herbicide program at CHQLAKE.ORG. We encourage the public to sort fact from fiction and filter out the misleading rhetoric of individuals that wield the word “science” to promote personal opinions.

Members of the Chautauqua Lake Partnership Board of Directors are Dr. Jim Cirbus, president; Frank Nicotra, vice president; Mike LaTone, treasurer; Mary Hutchings, secretary; JoDee Johnson, Dr. Terrance Toy and Rick McMahon.


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