NALMS 2023 Recap – Erie, PA

NALMS 2023 Recap – Erie, PA

The North American Lake Management Society’s (NALMS) 43rd International Symposium took place October 22-26, 2023, at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. This year’s theme was Great Lakes, Local Solutions. 

The Chautauqua Lake Association had the privilege of serving on the planning committee and was also invited to speak at this year’s event. On day two of the conference, Doug Conroe and Heather Nolan-Caskey delivered a presentation about the versatility of the CLA’s services and how its equipment is used to multi-task based on the current needs of Chautauqua Lake.

Download our full presentation here

A Unique Perspective 

The conference opened with remarks from Jason Corwin, a Professor at the University of Buffalo, who is of Seneca Nation heritage. He discussed the long-standing relationships that indigenous peoples have with the environment and water. Their unique perspectives on aquatic ecosystems provide critical viewpoints on conservation management at a time when environmental threats of all sizes exist. 

Top Takeaways

An array of topics were covered throughout the course of the three day conference and attendees were welcome to migrate between topics of interest. 

Presentations included AIS Prevention, Nitrogen Monitoring & Removal, Plant & Mussel Management, Sediment Nutrients, Mapping, Roads Salts, Hydrilla, HABs and Climate Change.

Below, CLA Executive Director Doug Conroe (DC) and Heather Nolan-Caskey (HN) share a recap of their top takeaways from the 43rd annual NALMS symposium.

1. Invest in Spread Prevention

HN: One statement that jumped out at me: $1 towards prevention = $100 in control methods once invasives are introduced. This refers to aquatic invasive species prevention and confirms the value of our steward program. 

It was also noted that Minnesota has a state Environmental Trust Fund set up from lottery proceeds which funds all state-wide lake and watershed projects. I believe there are other states that utilize funds from the lotto. This might be worth looking into for future funding.

2. HAB Behaviors, Invasives & Nutrient Reduction

DC: Every session included an Algal Bloom and Harmful Algal Bloom component. Researchers from around the nation presented on algal behavior and various mitigation techniques. Heather and I attended many of those topical presentations.

Another session of particular interest, included management of phosphorus releases from the sediment into the water column, which could reduce a cause of algal blooms. This was referenced in discussions of what’s happening on Lake Erie and how they are dealing with algal blooms. 

There were also topical presentations on utilizing stormwater wetlands to stop nutrients from reaching waterbodies. It was quite interesting to observe how one community has daisy-chained wetland installations to achieve nutrient reduction goals.

The installation of lakeside buffer zone plantings was another stormwater flow nutrient reduction action that was determined to be important for a lake’s health.

We additionally learned how some are addressing the Starry Stonewort growth situation and how others are dealing with Hydrilla infestations.

3. Educate the Community Through Shared Data  

HN: An idea that stemmed from a session I attended was to create a map that notates current HABs on Chautauqua Lake. This map would be shared each week throughout the summer on the CLA’s website and social platforms. 

There are state and national sites that do this already, but I believe the CLA could apply the results received from its weekly samples to a map of Chautauqua Lake and it would be very informative to visitors as well as local lake users. 

A point brought up in this session was that scientific findings are not always passed on to the public. I guess that never really occurred to me, however I find it to be true and creating this HAB map would be a positive step in communication.  

4. Reintroduction of Native Plants in Areas Depleted of Vegetation

HN: In a presentation about the Presque Isle Wetlands, it was noted that they are using herbicides to remove the invasives that have overrun some areas of the park. As the sections are being cleared of invasives, they are planting native plants in their place and seeing great results. These native plants are cuttings from other areas in the wetlands, so it’s very cost effective. 

This may be something to consider for Chautauqua Lake. We always hope the natives will return after an area has been depleted, but why not help them return? This could be a great volunteer opportunity and something I plan to look into.

5. Technology & Emerging Environmental Issues  

HN: There were several discussions about artificial intelligence, aerial surveillance, citizen science, and of course information on herbicide and algaecide use. 

DC: The conference also included presentations on the impact that climate change has on waterbodies, utilizing satellite imagery for algal bloom awareness, and an interesting session on emerging contaminants and issues posed by oil & gas hydro-fracking operations.


DC: It was an honor to present on behalf of the CLA and I enjoyed the opportunity to network with attendees from across the nation. Again this year, the main take away from the comments we received is that our CLA program is on the right track. We are doing the right things.

HN: As always, there was a large variety of topics and we tried to attend as many different sessions as we could. I like to take the information learned and think of ways to apply it to our programs here on Chautauqua Lake. It was reassuring to hear from other lakes that we are on the right track here. 

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