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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