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News From the Skaneateles Lake Association

Moving forward on SLA’s 4-part HAB Action Plan

Rachael DeWitt, SLA Executive Diretor

The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) is pleased to announce that through the Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, The Town of Skaneateles, with support from the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, was approved for funding to complete a Nine-Element Plan for the Skaneateles Lake Watershed. The award totals $235,650. This is significant for the SLA’s HAB Action Plan.

The 9 Element or “9E” Plan will address nutrient loading and Harmful Algal Bloom control as well as identify measures to address water quality issues throughout the entire watershed to sustain Skaneateles’ natural resources and the primary drinking water source for City of Syracuse.

The completion of the 9E Plan will be critical in our ability to secure even larger grants going forward.

The Skaneateles Lake Association, in conjunction with the Town of Skaneateles and Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, was instrumental in developing the application for this grant.

A 25% matching investment of $78,500 was required from the local community to receive the awarded grant. As an in-kind match, Skaneateles Lake Association invested $60,115, which was used in 2018 for vital tributary monitoring. The Town of Skaneateles also invested $18,435. These two additional investments bring the total project cost to $314,200.

SLA is excited to announce that our first step in creating the 9 Element Plan will be a public input period. Stay tuned for this in the near future. Mark Dengler and his team at Research & Marketing Strategies Inc. (RMS) out of Baldwinsville, NY are in the process of developing a public input survey about Skaneateles Lake and its watershed. Current watershed concerns, issues, as well as thoughts about how stakeholders envision the future of the lake and watershed will be captured in the survey. The results from this survey will be used by the Skaneateles Lake Association and the Watershed Advisory Committee to begin the strategic planning and visioning process that serves as part of 9 Element Plan. The survey is scheduled to launch in mid-January. Please keep an eye on our emails, website, press releases, and social media platforms for the official launch of the survey.

The SLA has already begun taking steps to develop the 9 Element Plan, and we look forward to seeing it through to completion.

We thank the following whose memberships and additional generous donations supported the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days:  The Bryce Family Foundation, the Columbian Foundation, Lynn & Gardner McLean, an Anonymous Donor.

The memberships and additional donations of the following individuals and businesses providing funding to co-sponsor the Milfoil Boat for a day:  Nicolena & Robert Errico, Mark Heffernan, Mary & Richard Kokosa, Erica & Ken Byrne, The Sherwood Inn, Mary Beth & William Gleason, Lynn & Charles Kelly, Kathleen & Ben Tarantino.

Our Stewards were sponsored for a day by the memberships and additional donations from:  Syracuse Crunch Hockey, Barbara & Richard Evans, Catherine & Steven Fedrizzi,

The following contributed to the David Lee Hardy Fund to support our Steward Program:  Erica & Ken Byrne, Camille & Thomas Potter.

With the announcement of the award of funding for the 9 Element Plan, everyone in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Community owes a round of applause to our SLA Board and community members who comprise the Nutrient Management Committee and who spent hundreds of hours developing the application for the 9 Element Plan.  Your applause can be generated by joining the other (to date) 940 members of the SLA as a 2018 annual member.

If you have not yet joined the Skaneateles Lake Association this year, please do so now.  You can join at or call 315-558-3142 and ask for a member registration form to be mailed.  We are within range of 1000 members for 2018 and your prompt action today can make that happen.  Our memberships are rolling and effective for 1 full year from the date paid. 

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Jo-Anne Humphreys, The Nature Conservancy Finger Lakes WaterQuality Specialist, Ralph Fabiani, a volunteer, and Shannon Fabiani,Cornell Cooperative Extension Water and Ecology Specialist, pose for a photo with native plants that were used to construct the riparian buffer along the  shoreline of Skaneateles Lake

Trees for Tribs: Riparian Buffer Planting

Rachael DeWitt, Executive Director, Skaneateles Lake Association

Back in October the Skaneateles Lake Association, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of Skaneateles, and City of Syracuse hosted a Landscaping for Water Quality forum. At this forum, the audience learned how to landscape and garden their properties with water quality in mind. We had several excellent speakers present and many wonderful organizations/businesses table at this event to guide attendees on how to “shorescape” (landscape along the shore), garden with native plants, and educate the audience about New York State’s Nutrient Law. One of the major takeaways from this forum was the need for riparian buffers along streams and lake front property. Riparian Buffers stabilize banks, control erosion, slow runoff, and filter nutrients out of runoff before the water enters our tributaries and lake.

However, it is not enough just to talk about riparian buffers, they need to be constructed. As result of a partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension Onondaga, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Skaneateles Lake Association, on November 15th and 19th riparian buffer was constructed at a lakeside home. If you are a local, then you are well aware of the amount of snow that was present on both of these dates. The original planting date even had to be postponed due to all the snow. Dedicated volunteers, members, and employees of these organizations worked tirelessly in inhospitable conditions to get this project finished.

On November 15th the site was prepped, this process included sod removal, staking out planting locations, and going over the process of the project including site design to species selection. On November 19th, with the support of dedicated volunteers and two hospitable homeowners, over 150 riparian native grasses, native perennials, shrubs, and 1 tree were planted on November 15th.

The goal of this pilot project was to increase riparian buffers on private properties and reduce nonpoint source pollution to Skaneateles Lake through education and community based plantings. This is the first of several riparian buffers projects that will be constructed under the Trees for Tribs program. If you are interested having a riparian buffer constructed on your property, please email us at or email Shannon Fabiani at

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our project partners at Cornell Cooperative Extension (especially Shannon Fabiani), Onondaga County Soil and Water, White Oak Nursery, The Nature Conservancy, The City of Syracuse and all the volunteers for working tirelessly to protect our lake and for being a part of this service learning stewardship project. When the weather gets warmer, keep an eye out for future riparian buffer construction projects in our watershed. We hope you will consider volunteering and getting your hands dirty for the protection of our lake.

We thank the following individuals for sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days: Karen & Paul Black,  Nancy & Ted Norman, David Graham, Linda & Dan Roche.

We thank the following individuals and organizations for co-sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days: Leanne & David Willard, John Rizzo, Racquel & James Vlassis, Jack Rudnick, Skaneateles Rotary Foundation. Eileen Murphy & CJ Ryan.

Our steward program received special support from: Benjamin Lowery & Maura Swan, Susan Mark & Mary Knepper, Joyce & David Larrison.  Thank you to them.

We are grateful to those who continue to support the David Lee Hardy Fund established by his family to also support our steward program.  Thank you to MB & Jeff Bronk, Joseph Reagan, Joyce & David Larrison, and Lynda & John Parsons.

You cansupport the SLA and give applause to all of its volunteers by joining the SLAtoday!  You can join online or, better yet, save us the 3% PayPal or credit card feeand mail your check to the SLA (P. O. Box 862 Skaneateles, NY 13152) or call315-685-9106 and ask for a Member Registration Form and return envelope to bemailed to you.

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Buzz Roberts, SLA Board Member and Roy Truswell, Invasive Species Monitoring Steward trying out the new Steward Shed at the DEC Boat Launch


Fran Rotunno Fish & Rachael DeWitt, SLA Executive Director

When designing the banner for the first issue of the SLA Newsletter in the Spring of 2011, we chose the following headline for the banner…”For all those who have a stake in the lake”.  Over the years and especially since the major Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) in the Fall of 2017, the SLA board has taken steps to expand on that banner headline theme via written materials, newspaper articles and small group presentations and collaborating in providing educational forums to encourage all who have a stake in the lake to become stewards of the lake and for the lake.  The response from the community has been significant.  Community members have stepped up to the plate to learn how they can individually take small steps to promote the health of the lake water, dozens have joined in to monitor the lake for the appearance of Harmful Algal Blooms and obtain water samples during storm events.  Much of this community stewardship was ignited by the HABs and the SLA Board intends to continue to promote and expand this type of community response.

While this community steward response to the HAB events is very important, the Board is also keenly aware that we have to continue to focus on the continued threat of invasive species to our lake water and the lake as a community resource and economic driver. The Great Lakes have 183 invasive species, Skaneateles has 5. That number could easily rise from just one boat bringing in a new invasive. Here in Skaneateles we are less than 40 miles away from Lake Ontario, and their problems are knocking on our door. If you would like to learn more about invasive species and the problems facing our freshwater lakes, we highly suggest reading the book, “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes,” by Dan Egan. We need to act now before our problems get worse. SLA is ramping up our Invasive Species Steward Program to protect our lake and prevent this from happening.

Recognizing that the threat of additional invasive species, especially the dreaded Hydrilla found extensively in nearby lakes, needed expanded attention, the SLA Board applied for and received a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation to expand our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program.  The funds received enabled us to start our Stewards working at the beginning a May and keep them on duty into October.  Further, with the grant funds we were able to have the Stewards in place longer hours during the day and more days at more launch sites around the lake.  We accomplished this by hiring adult Stewards from the community in addition to the high school and college students we have always employed.  Along with funds to pay for the additional personnel and hours, our grant funds also enabled us to purchase a small shed to be kept permanently at the NYS DEC Launch site on West Lake Rd.  With our Stewards starting earlier in the season, earlier in the day and staying later in the season and later in the day, providing them with shelter was important and the grant funds allowed us to do this. 

Most of you know that grant funds are intended to provide an organization with an element of structure or equipment or to provide initial funding for an expansion of service.  However, grant funds are never intended to supplant the need for ongoing funding of an organization’s program.  In order for the SLA to continue the expansion of our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward coverage of Skaneateles Lake launch sites we need to have every 2017 member who has not yet joined for 2018 to join now and we need several hundred additional members more than we had in 2017.  Our membership is growing but in these last weeks of 2018 it needs to grow significantly more.

You can join the SLA for the first time or renew your membership for 2018 online at or call 315-685-9106 and ask for a Member Registration Form to be mailed to you.  Our SLA annual memberships are rolling and effective for one year from the date paid.

We thank the following for or supporting the Milfoil Boar for a day or multiple days:  Frank Suits, Allyn Family Foundation, Elizabeth & John McKinnell, Deborah & James Tifft.

We thank the following for co-sponsoring the Milfoil Boar for a day:  Laura & Sean O’Keefe, Heather & David Wheat, Judy & Philip Hider, Patricia & Ralph Troisi, White & White Antiques and Interiors (Bev & Steve White), Gretchen & Caleb King, Gina & Geoffrey Wickwire and an Anonymous Donor.

We thank the following for sponsoring a Steward for a day:  Casmir Bobowski, Karen & David Hempson, Nancy Peck, Virginia & Jeffrey Stannard, The Higgins Family, Judith & Steven Zdept, Jacqueline & David Eng.

We thank the following for their contributions to the DavidLee Hardy Fund:  Susanne Guske & LeeKlosowski, Karen & David Hempson, Nancy Peck, The Higgins Family, DavidAltmeyer, Connie Brace & Paul Higman, Robert Hogan, Aster Weddings, VermontGreen Mountain Specialty Company, Thomas Potter.

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Tis the Season –  Gifts for the Watershed                                                     Mary Menapace

 The holiday gift list is a tangible reminder of the essence of the season – the joy of sharing our blessings with loved ones.  This year, consider our watershed – all you can see when you stand on the pier in the village looking south – the entire valley, all the streams and the lake.   Consider, every time we have cleared to build, drained to farm, paved a drive, manicured more lawn, and most especially cut down a single tree –our human imprint on the land has compromised the natural buffers of forest, meadow and wetland.   Layered natural landscapes (leaves, groundcovers, shrubs and trees) capture rain, allowing it to filter into the earth rather than running into the lake.   We struggle with the harms of increased runoff in eroded stream banks, failing roads, crumbling lakefront and toxic algae.  However, there is a joyful way to begin the urgent work of renaturalizing the land, thus healing the waters.  It is gardening  –  one of the most popular hobbies in America!  Let your holiday gift giving be about this essential and beautiful work –using native plants to rebuild bigger better buffers for a healthier more resilient watershed.  Here’s how:  Gift a subscription to Habitat Gardening of Central New York, ($40) out of Liverpool, or the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society ($20) based in Ithaca.  Bookmark  their websites for their robust programming and extensive resources.  Sign your friends and family up for their free newsletters.  Gardening for habitat directly translates to landscaping for water quality.

What kid doesn’t love to dig in the dirt?  Gift a bug net and magnifying glass, insect and bird identification guides, and a gift certificate to Prairie Nursery Native Plants and Seeds.  Over the winter with your little one, learn about native plants, and figure quantities (math!)  As they tend their little piece of the backyard next spring, they’ll be cultivating not just the land but patience and stewardship.  Oh, and don’t forget a journal to maintain a bug and bird list over the years, there will be lots of fascinating visitors.

 Nudging green thumbs, choose a garden apron, a hand tool or sunhat, and a generous gift certificate to one of the four regional nurseries that specialize in propagating native plants.  All of them keep up extensive, illuminating websites and free newsletters.  All have proprietors that are eager to share their wisdom and experience, including design services.  Spread the wealth, buy from each – (alphabetically) Amanda’s Garden in Dansville, Nannyberry Native Plants in Fulton, The Plantsmen in Groton, and White Oak Nursery in Canandaigua. 

 The holiday gift list can also be, alas, an ode to commercialism.  Resist more stuff!  Instead, share the joy and beauty of native plants and you’re giving a legacy gift to our beloved watershed. 

Mary Menapace works with the Skaneateles Lake Association on outreach and education.  If you are not a member already, Join!  

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Letter from the SLA Executive Director:  Jefferson Project Update
Rachael DeWitt

Many of our regular readers are aware that the Skaneateles Lake Association has partnered with the Jefferson Project on Lake George to collect data on our lake. This past summer, the Jefferson Project added a Vertical Profiler to our lake. Examples of some of the measurements the Vertical Profiler can record include weather, water currents, temperature, chlorophyll A (which is helpful for detecting algal blooms), turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and others.

Ironically, the Jefferson Project’s Vertical Profiler and I both started working on Skaneateles Lake at the same time. The Vertical Profiler was added to Skaneateles Lake on July 31st and I began working with the SLA on August 1st. Over this period of almost 3 months, we both have taken in a lot of information.

SLA has met with the Jefferson Project several times since the Vertical Profiler was added to the lake. Though SLA has not been able to obtain the raw data from this device, we have been able to learn about some of the findings the device has collected and the Jefferson Project scientists have analyzed. One thing we has become more aware of, as a result of partnering with the Jefferson project, is the role of internal nutrient loading. This means that nutrients that are already in the lake, from many years of runoff, are now being resuspended and are becoming available to the algae.

On October 10th, I made a trip up to Lake George. On this trip, I was able to see a visual model that the Jefferson Project developed of our lake. This model depicted an internal seiche within the lake. We think an internal seiche may be contributing to internal nutrient loading. A seiche is a standing wave in an enclosed body of water. It’s almost like sloshing in a bathtub, but think of it with thermal layers in a lake. It is caused by a period of wind pushing in one direction for a significant period of time. The wind forces the warm layer of water downward on one end of the lake, which pushes against the cool layer of water beneath, and ultimately creates this wave that travels toward the other end of the lake where it hits at about 15-18 meters in depth. The force of this impact is enough to suspend sediment and nutrients, which algae can then take up. When the wind then calms and the weather is warm enough, it can form a bloom. It just so happens, that when the seiche hits the bottom at the North end of the lake, it hits close to where the Country Club sits. When it hits at the South end of the lake, it hits at about ¾ of a mile from the end of the lake. This means that nutrients are likely being suspended in both of these locations and could attribute to blooms there.

It is important to note that a seiche is not a new occurrence. Seiches have been happening for thousands of years and are common in most long, North-South oriented lakes. Unfortunately an internal seiche is not something we can control, and it is nearly impossible to remove the nutrients that are already in the lake. However, we can control external nutrient loading, this is why SLA plans to continue working with stakeholders around the lake to reduce their nutrient input into the lake. We all have a stake in our lake’s water quality and we must do as much as we personally can to stop nutrient loading into the lake.

We’d like to acknowledge our most recent event, our Landscaping for Water Quality Forum at the High School on October 23rd. This event allowed homeowners to learn about how they can reduce nutrient loading into the lake from their lawns. Thank you to our Presenters: Aimee Clinkhammer, Matt Biondolillo, and Don Leopold. Thank you to our co-sponsors: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of Skaneateles, City of Syracuse. We’d also like to thank the High School Environmental Club, volunteers, organizers, tabling organizations, and everyone who came out to the event.

Source:  Skaneateles Press


News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Going for 1000!                                                  Fran Rotunno Fish

The Board of Directors of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) has not taken an official vote on setting a membership goal for 2018, but informally we all agree that we should easily reach a membership of1000 and it is important to make every effort to do so.

In 2011, when the SLA evolved from its predecessor organizations (Skaneateles

Lake Pure Water Association, Inc. and the Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association), the SLA Board of Directors determined that its future financial stability and ability to carry out the activities necessary to fulfill its mission would require broad community support, not the limited large donations and one-time government grants that had funded its efforts in the past.  Thus, SLA Annual Membership was born with efforts to reach a broad scope of the lake community to “spread the pain” of funding the SLA’s efforts.

In 2011, the first membership year, 293 families, individuals and businesses joined the SLA and in 2012 the membership grew to 548.  While our membership grew from 639 in 2013 to 822 in 2017, the threats to our lake also grew.  The scope of our action plan to protect the lake had to grow as we focused more expansively on milfoil control and preventions of the introduction of other invasive species, especially, the dreaded Hydrilla.  Of course, the Algal Blooms of the Fall of 2017 and this past summer have further intensified the need for expanding our membership and support.

There is no reason why we cannot achieve a membership of 1000 for 2018.  These are the families, individuals and businesses we need to join the SLA right now to achieve that goal.

There are 156 memberships paid between Oct. 2017 and Dec. 2017.  If 100% of them rejoin, we will be well on our way to 900.  They have all received renewal reminder letters in the past month or will be receiving those reminders in Nov. if they joined in Dec. 2017.

There are 177 memberships (74 of which are known lakefront or lake rights property owners) that were registered for a year or more between 2011 and 2017, but have not rejoined in 2017 or 2018.  If they all jump in and join, we make the 1000-member goal.

And, we can do better than that!  There are still 93 memberships registered between Jan. and Sept. 2017 that have not been renewed for 2018.  All of these have received membership renewal letters and follow emails, when available.

Perhaps the saddest number to report is the approximate 500 lakefront and lake rights property owners who have never supported the SLA or its predecessor organizations via membership or other donation.  Getting any of them onboard as members would certainly solidify achievement of our 1000-member goal.

Today there are two things you can do to surely get us to the 900-member goal, but we should be able to get to 1000 with your help.  So, if you are in any one of the “missing from 2018 membership groups”, join now!  If you have already joined go to our website (, click on the membership tab and check over the list of current members.  If you see anyone missing who should be a member and for whom a nudge from you would be helpful, please call me and confirm the status (as we have 30 anonymous members).  Then, if appropriate give them a call and share your reason for SLA membership and why you hope they will join also.

You can reach me at 315-558-3143 for membership status confirmation, if you want to have a member registration form mailed or if you want to help us grow our membership and can put in some hours to help with the effort.  With your help, we can make that goal of 900 and there is really no reason why we cannot reach 1000 members for 2018.

Source:  Skaneateles Press