Chautauqua Institution today announced that it has signed on to the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the Chautauqua Lake Weed Management Consensus Strategy championed by Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. The MOA seeks to bring together lake agencies and organizations, as well as the municipalities located around Chautauqua Lake, so they can more effectively work together to manage invasive aquatic plants, nuisance native vegetation, and hazardous algal blooms in the lake while being considerate of the lake and its watershed’s economic, recreational and ecological significance. Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill signed the MOA on the Institution’s behalf.

“I proudly signed this memorandum on behalf of Chautauqua Institution because it represents the comprehensive and scientifically sound approach for Chautauqua Lake conservation that we’ve been advocating for many years,” Hill said. “We are hopeful that all other agencies and municipalities will join us in signing the MOA and supporting this incredibly important strategy. We thank County Executive Borrello for his resolute leadership on this crucial issue. While Chautauqua Lake faces many challenges, we’re confident that with an independently sourced, science-based comprehensive approach and the support and leadership of a consensus of stakeholders, we will save and preserve Chautauqua Lake as the source of so much of our livelihood in Chautauqua County.”

The consensus strategy was developed through a collaboration of the County Executive’s Office, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Development, representatives from the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), and the consulting firm Ecology and Environment, Inc. (E&E). E&E, which is headquartered in Lancaster, New York, facilitated three meetings earlier this year, where it met with key lake stakeholders to discuss their most pressing issues and concerns surrounding the management of weeds and harmful algal blooms in Chautauqua Lake. These stakeholders included representatives from Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua Fishing Alliance, Chautauqua Lake Association, Chautauqua Lake Fishing Association, Chautauqua Lake Partnership, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Town of Busti, Town of Chautauqua, Town of Ellery, Town of Ellicott, Town of North Harmony, Village of Celoron, and Village of Lakewood. Other input, which was also considered in the development of the MOA, was communicated to the county executive during informal meetings and in written form.

The deadline for organizations and municipalities to sign on to the MOA is April 17.

As part of the information-gathering phase for the consensus strategy, Hill and Chautauqua Vice President of Campus Planning and Operations John Shedd accompanied Borrello and several other county officials and leaders on an October trip to Lake George, New York, to learn about a successful model for lake conservation. In just five years, Lake George stakeholders have united behind a consensus strategy that uses sound, validated science to spur decisions, greatly and demonstrably improving the health and water quality of a lake with challenges similar to Chautauqua Lake.

“It was an honor to share the Lake George experience with our county neighbors and leaders, with such a sense of shared urgency for saving Chautauqua Lake,” Hill said. “It was invigorating and affirming to see such disparate Lake George stakeholders creating and basing actions upon a foundation of universally accepted, sound science. I know that kind of approach can work for Chautauqua Lake. And I firmly believe that, through this consensus strategy and the collaborative efforts that it will foster, that we will create sustainable solutions to the issues affecting Chautauqua Lake.”