Finding common ground on waters

Commentary: A better Chautauqua Lake

As a key economic driver for our county and one of our most valued natural resources, Chautauqua Lake boasts an array of engaged stakeholders ready to weigh in with opinions on how best to manage this most vital of shared resources.

From the new Chautauqua Harbor Hotel and Webb’s Lodge at Chautauqua Lake Mayville Condo project, to the throng of summertime boaters, anglers, and lakefront property owners, our lake supports a multitude of users with diverse interests. It is no wonder that at times we have seen intense emotions dominate the conversation about proper Chautauqua Lake aquatic plant and algae management.

These conflicts can be deeply divisive. However, when re-directed within a more unified framework, our differences in opinion and approach become our strengths, presenting an opportunity to maximize our collective efforts toward a singular purpose — a healthy Chautauqua Lake.

As the interim executive director of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, I am reaching back to my training in joint military operations and embracing a fundamental principle of mission success — Unity of Effort. According to the U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms, Unity of Effort is “the product of successful unified action” and consists of “coordination and cooperation toward common objectives even if the participants are not necessarily part of the same command or organization.”

As we look ahead to our 2020 recreational season, I am highly optimistic that our Unity of Effort framework will deliver the best possible outcomes that come from a balanced approach to Chautauqua Lake and Watershed management. The board of directors has evaluated and prioritized 15 new Alliance member projects for 2020 focused on watershed-based nutrient and sediment loading reduction (via stormwater, erosion, and education projects), invasive aquatic plant detection and response, near-shore nuisance aquatic plant cleanup, nuisance aquatic plant harvesting, targeted herbicide use, and expanding aquatic data collection and monitoring for the purpose of combatting harmful algal blooms (HABs) through science-based lake management actions.

These anticipated 2020 projects, made possible by the generosity of local Foundations, coupled with the large and continuously growing stable of New York state grant-funded (largely watershed-based) projects spear-headed by the Alliance and its members, seek to implement a balanced and adaptive work plan.

This approach aims to address both the causes and symptoms of lake impairment by emphasizing our members’ core competencies while also encouraging a heightened level of collaboration and coordination to eliminate redundancy and maximize benefits to the lake and its users.

Our Unity of Effort framework capitalizes on our county executive’s Chautauqua Lake Memorandum of Agreement and the wonderful consolidated grant process embraced by the Sheldon, Lenna, and Chautauqua Region Community Foundations. During my visits to watershed municipalities, Alliance member organizations, area businesses, and property owners, it is clear that the time is now for rallying around a single purpose of high-quality lake and watershed management through Unity of Effort actions.

Over the next several months, Chautauqua Lake and Watershed property owners will have the opportunity to join in on our Unity of Effort framework. The Chautauqua Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Agency will have a series of community outreach opportunities to engage property owners on the most effective way to fund member projects to sustain our efforts of high quality and robust lake and watershed management.

As a lakefront property owner myself, I encourage you to take full advantage of these important opportunities with an open mind and an eye to the future of our wonderful Chautauqua Lake.

Vince W. Horrigan is an interim executive director of the Chautauqua Lake & Watershed Management Alliance.


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