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Friday, April 27, 2018

Funding for CLP herbicide treatment up in the air

MAYVILLE — County funds may not be available for the Chautauqua Lake Partnership’s request of $500,000 for herbicide treatments of the lake.
Being in the middle of a budget, legislators are saying it is not that simple.
Jim Cirbus, CLP board president, requested $500,000 when he spoke to county legislators Wednesday evening in Mayville. The funds would be used for herbicide treatments for the removal of invasive weeds in the lake. The process would be permitted and supervised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and carried out by participating towns and villages surrounding the lake.
Cirbus said the funding is needed by early May. However, since the money was not part of the 2018 budget, an emergency payment would need to be made.
“The CLP and its many supporters want the county to give back some of this property tax revenue to Chautauqua Lake and fund partnership projects similar to the millions funded to other lake organizations over the past years,” Cirbus said Wednesday. “Specifically, your municipalities desperately need funding for 2018 herbicide treatments at this time.”
Cirbus asked several legislators, including Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point; Lisa Vanstrom, R-Jamestown; Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Legislature Chairman PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood; and David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, to sponsor the resolution.
“Now it’s the county’s turn again to ‘take the baton’ back and fund their lakeside municipalities so that together we may all successfully cross the finish line,” Cirbus said.
Vanstrom said the legislators were named because of the geographic region they represent. While she said she supports the CLP’s work, the budget situation is tough at this point.
“We’re in the middle of a budget cycle,” she said. “I do believe we need to use all the tools available to us in the lake, and herbicides are probably underused. However, we already voted on this budget and there is no money in the budget for it.”
She said the county took a hit this year due to the $3.8 million that had to be paid out for juvenile detention that came as a surprise.
“That was a shocker,” Vanstrom said.
Wendel said the timing of the request is problematic. He said the CLP is doing good work, but the funding situation is a difficult one.
“It’s not just an easy draft legislation and hand it over,” Wendel said. “There’s more to it. At this part of the cycle, it’s hard to wrap our heads around anything. Yes, I support it, but it’s a difficult time for our budget.”
The CLP, an all-volunteer nonprofit consisting of about 425 members, has updated a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement first written by the county in 1990. That was part of a Macrophyte Management Strategy, a study which concluded herbicides were acceptable for widespread use in Chautauqua Lake, Cirbus said.
“We appreciate the efforts of previous and current county legislators and executives to return herbicides to Chautauqua Lake’s weed management toolkit after their successful use for over 35 years,” Cirbus said.
The town of Ellery, acting as a lead agency, completed a State Environmental Quality Review as part of the state’s requirements. As a result, herbicide treatment is available in 11 communities, including the towns of Ellery, Ellicott, Busti and North Harmony, as well as villages of Bemus Point and Celoron.
Cirbus said nine permits for herbicide use have been submitted to the DEC. He said the CLP anticipates the permits to be issued in early May, necessitating the emergency funding by the legislature.
“Treatment contracts are being prepared, herbicides are being procured and logistics are being planned for May treatments, which are necessary for optimal weed management and also for minimized impacts,” Cirbus said.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Chautauqua Lake, a Great Lake Seeking a Greater Future

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Chautauqua Lake, a Great Lake Seeking a Greater Future
UPDATE:  April 10th, 2018
Springtime failed to come to Chautauqua Lake on March 21, as Spring arrived. As you can see in the photo, we still had snow on the ground and ice on the lake this week! But, we know that summer will be here soon, get ready!
Your Chautauqua Lake Partnership’s (Partnership) all-volunteer Officers, Board Members, Advisors and others are progressing all Partnership Projects during this never-ending winter. We’re proud to say that the Partnership is the only Chautauqua Lake organization actively addressing watershed, in-lake and regional lake issues. [Note: Contrary to a rumor spread by another lake organization, no Partnership Officers, Advisors or Board members are compensated for their thousands of hours of volunteer time. As opposed to other lake organizations, 100% of your Partnership contribution goes to lake improvement projects.]
We described the Partnership’s support for development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for herbicide use in the last update. Despite the obstruction by a few, described in the last update, the SEIS was completed, approved by the Town of Ellery Board, the Lead Agency, and issued on schedule on April 5, 2018, after 6 months and $250,000. Recall that Chautauqua Lake is the only lake in New York State (NYS) with such an SEIS-requirement, a result of a short-sighted 1986 agreement between the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the CLA.
We mentioned a lawsuit by ~15 Maple Springs and Chautauqua Institution residents against the Town of Ellery, Chautauqua County and the DEC in the last update. This Article 78 suit organized by Jane Conroe, member of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Alliance Science Committee, wife of CLA Executive Director and mother of the CLA Treasurer, organized the suit. We described the suit as of no merit in the last update, and in fact, it was dismissed on one of several faults by Judge Dillon of the NYS Supreme Court, on February 26, 2018.
The now-issued SEIS, intended to be included in the County’s Macrophyte Management Strategy scope but never completed, will satisfy the 1986 DEC/CLA agreement and pave the way for DEC’s processing of herbicide permits. 3400 Letters of Notification were sent March 14 and nine herbicide permit applications were submitted to DEC by four Towns (Ellery, Ellicott, Busti, and North Harmony) and one Village (Celoron) on March 16, 2018. We expect the DEC will issue permits for several days of herbicide treatment of the invasive weeds Eurasian Water Milfoil and Curly Leaf Pondweed in ten areas of the lake in early May, 2018, well before the summer season begins. That is optimal timing for herbicide effectiveness and minimal negative impact. [Note: Contrary to a rumor spread by another lake organization, Agent Orange, the Vietnam-era defoliant contaminated with dioxin, the chemical which got our servicemen sick, was not used in the successful 2017 Bemus Bay herbicide treatment. Only EPA and NYS DEC-approved herbicides are used after environmental review and permitting under the supervision of the NYS DEC. Note that Chautauqua Lake weed cutting/harvesting undergoes no such environmental review, requires no permits and is not supervised by the DEC.]
Several OpEd’s, developed by the Partnership and published in the Jamestown Post-Journal over the last several months can be found on the Partnership website,
  • “Weed Management in Chautauqua Lake, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” by Jim Wehrfritz, Tom Erlandson, PhD, Doug Neckers, PhD, Dr. Jim Cirbus and Mike Latone, Partnership Officers and Science Advisors, identifying DEC-documented negative environmental impacts of weed cutting/harvesting, was published in the Jamestown Post-Journal on January 21. Read the article here.
  • “Chautauqua Lake: The Importance of People” by Partnership Science Advisor Tom Erlandson, focusing on the importance of people’s use of the lake as a necessary catalyst to lake improvement, was published March 18.   Read the article here.
We encourage you to read all Partnership OpEd’s to get an objective and unbiased view of lake issues and the required action.
We were happy to hear that $95,000 for the Partnership has been included in the NYS 2018 Budget. This is the first state funding support we’ve received. Thank you, Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell.
We updated new Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello on Partnership projects, challenges and funding requirements on April 2. Given that the Partnership has now completed the SEIS which the County abandoned, we are confident the County will significantly increase its $15,000 contribution made to the Partnership in 2017. We also hope to access significant fund balance held by the County and County–sponsored entities for 2018 Partnership projects.
We appreciate the financial support you’ve provided thus far, ~$125,000 to date!  However, with the large slate of Partnership projects and required resources, we must ask again. We will begin herbicide treatment cost-focused fundraising for 2018 in mid-April. Contributions from around the lake and in the ten communities slated for treatments are crucial to take advantage of the completed SEIS and DEC permits in process and, ultimately, return herbicides, used all over NYS and the USA, as a weed management tool available to Chautauqua Lake. Please go to our website, to make a PayPal contribution, mail a check to the Partnership at PO Box 337, Bemus Point, NY 14712or contact Sara DeMink, Partnership Fundraising Chairperson, at
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of “Chautauqua Lake, A Great Lake Seeking a Greater Future”. 
Chautauqua Lake Partnership
Officers, Advisors and Board Members

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Ellery Takes ‘A Huge Step’ Toward Lake Treatment

A big step in the process of receiving permits for herbicide treatment in Chautauqua Lake was taken recently by the Town of Ellery.
Jim Wehrfritz, Chautauqua Lake Partnership vice president, said the final Chautauqua Lake Herbicide Treatment Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was accepted last week at a Town of Ellery Board meeting. The town of Ellery took up the lead on the project, with sponsorship from the Chautauqua Lake Partnership.
The SEIS is a document that addresses the impacts related to herbicide use in Chautauqua Lake.
Wehrfritz said the draft of the SEIS for herbicide use was issued on Feb. 8 with a public comment period starting on March 1. The written comment deadline, which was extended, ended on March 16.
“All of this is being done in the name of the town of Ellery,” Wehrfritz said. “They’re very courageous. They’ve provided the leadership for the whole lake.”
Wehrfritz said the process took an effort of about $250,000 in a six-month timeframe. He said there were about 1,500 volunteer hours put into the project. The reason the process was undertaken, he said, was because the original SEIS was completed in 1990 and the DEC said no more permits for applying herbicides would be granted until the SEIS was updated. In 1986, the DEC and the Chautauqua Lake Association signed an agreement which required a supplement for Chautauqua Lake to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which is a different scenario than any other lake in the state.
Wehrfritz said last year, the Chautauqua Lake Parternship received a special permit called a data collection project from the DEC, which is different than other permits that were received in previous years. However, he said the DEC would not issue any more special permits such as the data collection project permits until the SEIS was updated.
The Macrophyte Management Strategy said it is acceptable to use herbicides in 50 percent of the lake, Wehrfritz said. He said part of the scope of the MMS was to update the SEIS, but that was “pulled” from the scope in 2016. In that case, the owness to update the SEIS was on the entity seeking a permit.
“The town approval of this was a huge step,” Werhfritz said.
He said the next step is the issuing of funds by involved agencies, which should be done in the next few weeks. Following the issuance of findings will come the approval of permits which will then be followed by herbicide treatments.
Wehrfritz said nine herbicide permit applications were submitted to DEC by four towns including Ellery, Ellicott, Busti and North Harmony and one village, Celoron, on March 16.
Wehrfritz said the CLP is grateful for $95,000 that was recently announced by Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean. He said it is the first significant funding the partnership has seen from the government.
Wehrfritz added that everyone involved in the CLP are volunteers and do not receive salaries.

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

It’s The Official Start Of Fishing Season

Today begins the official start of fishing season in our part of the country. Inland trout season opened today and with Mother Nature loosening her ice grip on Chautauqua Lake, anglers will be heading to the lake for the annual crappie run, while others will be starting on shore to hit the channels and creek mouths, which have begun to open up.
As the weather begins to turn for the better, so does the fishing. Early spring brings ice-off and crappie fishing, jumping trout in local streams, catch-and-release bass fishing, and the distant sounds of mature gobblers waking up all in earshot throughout Chautauqua County woodlots.
Ice-off always signals the time to go crappie fishing. That looks to be a bit down the calendar road. We are about two weeks behind schedule in regard to when the ice is generally off the lake. Fishing is always good after ice-off, but it does come with many risks. Between floating debris and barely above-freezing water temperatures, ice-off fishing isn’t for faint of heart.
More years ago than I would care to remember, my childhood friends and I would stand on the shores of Chautauqua Lake at on the edges of the canals catching buckets full of crappie.
As a young man, I would spend hours on the shores of Chautauqua Lake and catch crappie after crappie. As months turn into years, our ideas of a good time, really didn’t involve a fishing rod and smelly worms. Spring meant cars and girls. The fishing rods would gather dust in the closet for a few years.
Like our childhood, many things have changed, but others have stayed the same. The same is true with the spring fishing on Chautauqua Lake. First, the days of taking buckets filled with crappie are gone; there are currently limits. Always make sure to know creel limits before heading to the water. Currently the creel limit for crappie is nine-inch minimum and 25 per day limit. Secondly, a drive up and down the lake’s shoreline will find few kids on bikes with fishing poles strapped across the handle bars.
Many folks believe that calico are native to Chautauqua Lake, but that is not actually true. Calico bass were introduced back in the late 20s and early 30s by the DEC. These first fish actually were pulled out of Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario.
The gift of crappie to Chautauqua Lake almost 100 years ago is one of the best the state has given local anglers.
While the sight of kids fishing from shore isn’t as abundant as years gone by, there is still one thing for sure. There are folks who every year want to be the first boat on the water.
One of things I have learned, and all but guarantee, if you want to get a kid hooked on fishing, take them when the crappie are biting. When you find a school of hungry crappie, there is nothing that will keep a child’s attention than waiting for their bobber to go down. Then watching them fight their catch will be a memory they will keep for a lifetime.
That is all well and good, but a shakedown cruise can be interesting if you haven’t taken the time to get your boat ready for the water.
Some folks work on their boats themselves and have the knowledge to do so, but for the record I am not one of them. With that said, it’s important to understand your limitations before you tackle a marine project. If you don’t feel comfortable with fixing your boat, there are several excellent marinas around the lake.
Here some tips you may want to consider when you take your boat in for repairs.
In today’s economy, a tight budget is expected. Just make this clear before the job begins. The shop may be able to suggest ways to complete the project in stages. Always ask how much similar repairs have cost in the past, and what kinds of problems are possible along the way.
Have the marina write it up or take your chances. Get a written estimate before work begins, and remember that it is based on an approximation of how much the job will cost. With boats, it’s not unusual to have unforeseen problems crop up later, so taking your frustrations out on your repairman won’t help. You can always ask the shop to obtain your authorization before proceeding with unforeseen repairs or when work goes beyond the estimated price. Ask the repairman for evidence of the repair, and ask to get back old or damaged parts. If you’re not comfortable with the first estimate, get a second opinion from another mechanic.
Once you approve the estimate, a work order should be drawn up. Ask for a target completion date and write this into the work order. This is a big one. Most marinas are busy and get even busier as the season goes on, so make sure your timeline is the same as the marina’s.
Keep everyone in the loop. Always be sure the actual mechanic working on your boat has a copy of your work order when the project begins.
Understand that when tackling large jobs, boat repair shops often require payments at various stages of completion. Be sure to verify that each stage has been completed before paying.
Working on boats can be an interesting road to travel. That is why I leave it to the professionals. In my many years on the water, I have never seen a tow truck.
I have learned the over the years to always keep a couple extra props on hand. The bottom structure of Chautauqua Lake will change from a soft bottom to a rock bottom in a blink of an eye. It doesn’t take much to tear up a plastic trolling motor prop. For the price of them, it is always good to carry a spare.
As far as main engine prop, the same goes. While not as easy to change out on the water, your main engine prop is vital to a successful trip, or your safe return to shore as it would be. Changing out a trolling motor prop can be as simple as pulling out the motor shaft and switching out the prop. Main motor props may a bit more difficult and should be done on dry land, but if one takes time to practice the switch, often times it can be done without getting wet.
A quick note, it seems I forgot to include my email address for the youth essay contest. Send essays to Sorry for the mixup.

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