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News from the Skaneateles Lake Associaton

SLA seeks community responses on watershed survey
Rachael DeWitt, SLA Executive Director

The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) has partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct an online survey regarding perceptions of Skaneateles Lake. The survey will take approximately 7 to 10 minutes of your time and will help the SLA with its strategic planning activities and visioning for the Skaneateles watershed. This survey is voluntary and confidential. Please go to the link below to begin:www.rmsresults.com/Skaneateles

The survey asks respondents a variety of questions including those gauging familiarity with the lake, opinions on water quality protection efforts, what the most pressing issues are, how to best address those issues and more.We are hoping for 400 responses to the survey to ensure the answers are statistically significant.

At the end of the completed survey, you can enter a raffle to win (1) of (3) $100 Amazon gift cards for your participation (must be 18 or older to enter). Thank you in advance for your time! If you have any questions about this survey, please contact RMS at 315-635-9802 and mention the Skaneateles Lake Association survey.

If you would like to stay up to date with the work the Skaneateles Lake Association is doing and support our efforts, please join us as a member for 2019. If you joined early in 2018, it is time to renew for 2019. You can join/renew online at SkaneatelesLake.org or call 315-558-3142 and ask for an Annual Member Registration Form to be mailed

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Collaboration is Key to Success       Rachael DeWitt, SLA Executive Director

Since I started working as the Skaneateles Lake Association’s (SLA’s) Executive Director in August, I’ve become increasingly more impressed with the collaboration I have witnessed among various groups in the community.

At the forefront of this collaboration effort is SLA’s Nutrient Management Committee. This committee was formed in the Fall of 2017 as a part of SLA’s 4 Part Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Action Plan. The role of this committee is exactly in its name: to control the nutrients entering our lake and the nutrients that are already in the lake, which can lead to the formation of HABs. This committee meets once a month to discuss nutrient management strategy.

Bob Werner and Bill Dean, both on SLA’s Board of Directors, are spearheading this collaboration effort and leading the Nutrient Management Committee. There are many representatives and groups involved in this committee. These individuals and their respective groups are as follows: Mark Burger with the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program, Aimee Clinkhammer with the Department of Environmental Conservation, Rich Abbott with the City of Syracuse, Max Heitner with Finger Lakes Land Trust, Neil Murphy with State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Brian Madigan with GYMO Architecture Engineering & Land Planning, Richard Wiles with Center for Climate Integrity, and Mary Sennett from the Skaneateles Lake Association.

As evidenced above, there are many players that play a pivotal role in protecting our lake and its watershed. After meeting for many months now, the Nutrient Management Committee is functioning as a well-oiled machine. Strategies, action plans, and remediation projects are developed at each meeting. As of late, the meetings have grown in size to include other individuals and groups to help with remediation projects, the 9 Element Plan, and other efforts. Jo-Anne Humphreys with The Nature Conservancy, Jim Greenfield from the Town of Skaneateles, Kathy Bertuch with Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, and Buzz Roberts, Charley Driscoll, Mary Menapace, and Dave Birchenough from the Skaneateles Lake Association have all joined these meetings.

Outside of the Nutrient Management Committee, collaboration continues to happen in many forms. Education, restoration, data sharing, and information sharing are just a few other ways collaboration happens. Shannon Fabiani with Cornell Cooperative Extension has partnered with the SLA on many occasions to host public forums, share educational materials, and plant riparian buffers.

Data collection is another collaborative effort. Upstate Freshwater Institute, Department of Environmental Conservation, US Geological Survey, O’Brien & Gere, The Jefferson Project, Finger Lakes Institute, City of Syracuse Water Department, Syracuse University, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and SLA are all organizations collecting data on Skaneateles Lake. Communicating the types of data that each group is collecting to minimize duplication of efforts has been key. Data sharing to compare findings and subsequently implement remediation efforts is critical.

On a greater scale, Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance has bimonthly meetings to bring all of the Finger Lakes together to discuss everyone’s watershed actions and strategies. Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency holds monthly meetings with all lakes within the county to advise the Cayuga County Legislature on matters related to water resource management and planning. Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance coordinates all counties in the greater Lake Ontario watershed to implement water quality actions.

Collaboration, coordination and communication have been vital to our success. The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing, and these meetings allow all parties involved to gain useful knowledge and then decide on the best course of action together. Our SLA Annual Members form the final component of the partnership that comprises our collaborative team.  Their significant financial contributions provide the funding for what we have done and will be able to continue to do. We thank all of our partners for their continued involvement, investment, and support. The Skaneateles Lake Association is looking forward to continuing our partnership with all of these groups in 2019 for the betterment of our lake and watershed. As Edward Everett Hale once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

If you did not join the SLA as a partner in our efforts in 2018, please join now for 2019.  If you joined early in 2018, it is time to renew for 2019.  You can join/renew online at SkaneatelesLake.org or call 315-558-3142 and ask for an Annual Member Registration Form to be mailed.

Source:  Skaneateles Press

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 SkaneatelesLake.org 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 skanlakeassoc@att.net or email Shannon Fabiani at slf226@cornell.edu.

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 atSkaneatelesLake.org 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

Stewardship                                                      

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 SkaneatelesLake.org 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