Lake conference to be held for ‘different perspectives’

The first ever Chautauqua Lake Conference will soon bring together several nonprofit organizations in a public, free and educational effort Saturday at Chautauqua Institution with the theme of “Working Together for a Healthy Lake.”

Two years ago, planning began once the concept of gathering stakeholders with different perspectives took shape. Ted First, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy board member and year-round Chautauqua Institution resident, thought the grounds would be a perfect place to host those interested in learning more about the intricate systems of environmental processes and human maintenance that control the lake.

“We always need education and ways to network,” First said. “We ought to have all the players around the table. We have to define from various perspectives what is ‘healthy.'”

The CWC, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance will be represented by members who will be hosting presentations and staffing informative tables.

Now hammering down outreach and communication for the conference, First said “the timing is incredible” for the first conference to follow collaborative efforts such as the Burtis Bay cleanup and the beginning weeks of the Memorandum of Agreement for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy, which took effect May 1.

First said the conference will focus largely on long-term needs for Chautauqua Lake. Discussion of invasive weeds and herbicides, he said, has taken up much of the public conversation for the lake, so he thinks the more holistic approach for the conference makes sense.

During the conference, which will last from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., keynote addresses and sessions will keep visitors busy. Nancy Mueller, manager of the New York State Federation of Lake Associations, will deliver an opening address about current management of lakes statewide.

County Executive George Borrello will give a closing address regarding consensus strategies for Chautauqua Lake. Other addresses include a detailed weed management timeline given by Dave McCoy, county watershed coordinator; an understanding of algae given by SUNY Fredonia assistant professor Courtney Wigdahl-Perry; a project prioritization lecture given by Erin Brickley, alliance executive director; a discussion on watershed and land use given by Fred Lubnow, director of aquatic programs at Princeton Hydro; and a wildlife and fisheries lecture given by Twan Leenders, president of RTPI.

The conference is free to attend, with free parking included, and an optional box lunch will be available for purchase. More information can be found at chautauqualakeconference.org.

“It’s really important,” First said. “The lake is the heart of the community and the region.”


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