Header image photography courtesy of Matt Champlin

November 22, 2022  – Welcome to the Skaneateles Lake Association’s (SLA) monthly e-newsletter distributed the last Thursday of each month (or for this month the Tuesday before Thankgiving).

Clear Lake. Pure Water. promotes watershed wide protection of Skaneateles Lake by sharing news on SLA’s and community partner work around the watershed along with tips and takeaways on how we can all play a part in lake protection through Lake Friendly Living efforts.

In this issue please find the following:

  • Community Outreach & Education – SLA hosts “Tour of Watershed Champions” for City of Syracuse Students as part of initiative supported by SLA’s Legacy Fund and CNY Community Foundation.
  • Invasive Species – Update on Hemlock Woolly Adelgid efforts.
  • Septic Enhancement Grants – still available in Cayuga, Cortland, and Onondaga Counties.
  • Membership & supporting SLA through Amazon Smiles with online holiday shopping.

Please enjoy and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for your support!

Photo – Expeditionary Learning Middle School Students on the shores of Skaneateles Lake with Dr. Bahram Salehi of SUNY-ESF.

Over 50 City of Syracuse 7th Graders connect with lake protection professionals as part of SLA education program

In early November, the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) welcomed 57 students from the City of Syracuse’s Expeditionary Learning Middle School as part of the career development component through the Skaneateles Lake Emerging Watershed Scientists (SLEWS) program that is supported by SLA’s Legacy Fund, the CNY Community Foundation, and City of Syracuse School District.

In addition to developing science curriculum for middle and high school students within the Skaneateles Lake area, the SLA recognized a need to connect City of Syracuse students to learn about and have opportunities to help care for Skaneateles Lake as their source of drinking water. The inaugural visit to Skaneateles Lake was to meet a variety of professionals working around Skaneateles Lake.

“It was a jam-packed morning with many opportunities to meet some champions around the lake helping address different problems,” said Frank Moses, Executive Director of SLA.  “We are very grateful that representatives from Fesko Farms, CNY Land Trust, Anchor QEA Engineers, and SUNY-ESF made themselves available to share their experiences working to help protect Skaneateles Lake.”

The tour originally was scheduled to visit High Hickory to learn about land preservation and Eastern Hemlock tree protection with CNY Land Trust Executive Director Simon Solomon and Director of Stewardship Paul Porter, but the buses were delayed, and the tour had a great kickoff at Fesko Farms.

Owner and operator Kim Brayman with son Everett teach City of Syracuse students about strip cropping that helps slow down storm runoff.
The tour through Fesko Farms was led by three generations of the family. Chris Fesko, her daughter Kim Brayman, and Kim’s son Everett led the way on the buses introducing many strategies on how a working dairy farm employs Best Management Practices (BMPs) to help keep manure and other nutrients in the soil upland and help avoid over loading into the lake. Students learned about strip buffers, cover crops, and manure storage and other management techniques during their visit.
Principal Tim Johnson with Anchor QEA LLC describes benefits of watershed improvement project to City of Syracuse 7th graders
Next, the students traveled to visit a completed watershed improvement project in the uplands of Willow Creek that SLA helped finance with in-kind support from Brillo Excavating and Waste Disposal and engineering expertise provided by Principal Tim Johnson and his team at Anchor QEA LLC.  Johnson greeted the students and gave them and overview of how streams can carry sediment and nutrients into lakes that can then feed Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Students then learned about a solution used on Willow Creek to divert high flow waters with a log structure into a detention basin that would capture sediment to help keep the lake clean.
Dr. Bahram Salehi and PhD candidate student Sina Jarahizadeh of SUNY-ESF demonstrate a drone flight for City of Syracuse students.
Lastly, students travelled to the SLA offices at St. James Church where they learned about SLA and met with Dr. Bahram Salehi and PhD candidate student Sina Jarahizadeh from SUNY-ESF’s Salehi-Geolab. Sina and Dr. Salehi taught students about how technology like satellites and drones are being used to help monitor and better understand lake water quality. The students were able to see a high-tech drone in action as it flew over the water.

“All in all, it was a unique and meaningful educational experience for the Expeditionary Learning Middle School students,” said Jason Toner, 7th grade science teacher. “We are thankful for the opportunity SLA and all the site hosts provided and look forward to learning more in the field and on the water in the late spring.”

Photo: Hemlocks in 10 Mile Creek ravine

Saving the Hemlocks, Saving the Lake         

Frank Moses, Buzz Roberts, Fran Rotunno Fish

I am sure most have heard before Dr. Robert Werner’s statement made in the 1970s in regard to Skaneateles Lake…..”if we lose the Hemlocks, we lose the lake”
More recently, SLA members like the late Bob Duckett, Ron & Roseanne Gaye and Steve Kinne and the CNY HWA Hunters, the NYS Hemlock Initiative, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension have helped bring to light the threat of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) that is infiltrating Skaneateles Lake’s Hemlock trees from the south.  As the SLA’s Milfoil Survey Team was conducting its annual survey of the lake to plan for next year’s matting of milfoil, SLA Board Member, Bill Dean, who was on that team, noted that significant swaths of Hemlocks infected with HWA were being seen more north on the west side of the lake.

Photo: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) egg sacs infecting a tree near 10 Mile Creek. 

Hemlocks are essential to a healthy Skaneateles Lake and are a valuable asset in helping to prevent Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).  Hemlocks are one of the best steep bank and ravine sediment control strategies available to reduce the amount of phosphorus that can feed HABs.  Hemlocks reduce carbon from the atmosphere and keep streams cool.  Hemlocks are especially important in the Skaneateles Lake watershed with its many steep ravines because they are the best natural solution in these areas to helping reduce nutrient/sediment loading into Skaneateles Lake. Their ability to establish root systems on steep slopes and help keep stream cool and thus lake temperatures lower is in high demand now that Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are of major concern. HABs and the toxins they can produce thrive in warmer nutrient rich waters.

The effort to combat and control HWA is being carried out by both Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) and the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA).

The Skaneateles Lake Association has designated $50,000 from the Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake to fund HWA management efforts.  Board Members Buzz Roberts and Patty Orr have surveyed many areas of deep ravines along with Zeb Strickland, a licensed pesticide applicator with extensive experience int treating HWA.  Their survey efforts resulted in identifying large swaths of infected hemlocks on both preserve and private lands that could be treated.  The SLA also received input from private landowners who had identified infected Hemlocks on their properties.  We were especially fortunate to have Zeb Strickland on our team as he is willing and able to rope and repel into deep ravines….which he did to carry out treatments.

To date the SLA has funded treatment of large swaths of Hemlocks infected with HWA on both the south west and sought east side of the lake.  Unfortunately, the HWA Team noted areas of Hemlocks where the damage to the trees from HWA was so severe that treatment was not possible and the trees could not be saved.

Photo: Dead Eastern Hemlock “Ghost” Trees along southwest shoreline of Skaneateles Lake.

In addition to treating large swaths of infected Hemlocks, the SLA has been a resource to property owners to help them identify HWA infection if they were suspicious of it in their individual trees and refer them to licensed pesticide applicators with whom they could contract .

The SLA’s plan is to continue all of its efforts to control and combat HWA next year.  We know that none of this effort would have been possible without the generous donations of our members to the Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake and hope that all of our members will become supportive of the Fund at the most generous level possible.

Click HERE to Support the Legacy Fund Today!
All of the SLA’s efforts relative to HWA were enhanced by the experience and expertise of SLA Board Member, Dr. Dana Hall, who had initiated and coordinated a similar effort for the Owasco Lake Association where he as also served as a Board Member and Board President.

There are two bright notes to end this article.  One to share with all of you the sheer beauty of the many ravines that are a component of the Skaneateles Lake watershed with many areas of natural vegetation and many small waterfalls.   We encourage those of you who can to get out to the public areas available and enjoy the beauty.  The second bright note is that we need to envision the treatment of HWA as a bridge to the future use of silver flies to combat HWA.  Cornell University is assessing the use for release into areas infected with HWA as the silver flies actually eat the Woolly Adelgid.  Neither pesticide treatment nor silver flies will completely eliminate HWA, but both are tools in our packet to help Save the Hemlocks and Save the Lake.

Photo: Dr. Buzz Roberts releasing Silver Flies at Fillmore Glen State Park on Owasco Lake as part of a pilot project with NYS Hemlock Initiative led by Dr. Mark Whitmore at Cornell University.

You can join the SLA and donate to the Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake online at SkaneatelesLake.org or call Fran Rotunno Fish at 315-558-3142 for additional information and an SLA Member Registration Form.

Septic Enhancement Grants

Funding is still available for septic system replacement or upgrades for eligible residents in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed.  Please click on the respective County below regarding program details. Failing septic systems can add nutrients to our lake and add to the problem of Harmful Algal Blooms. Thank you for considering making upgrades to better protect Skaneateles Lake.

Cayuga County

Cortland County

Onondaga County

SLA Membership & Support

Please help share the word with your neighbors encouraging them to become members of SLA if they aren’t already.

Also, shopping online for the holidays?  You can now support SLA as you shop. Consider locking in SLA as a default organization to support. Visit HERE for more details or follow step by step instructions below.

Visit smile.amazon.com  – Log in to your Amazon account – Select “Get Started”
Enter “Skaneateles Lake Association” into search bar and select “Search”
Click on the “Select” button next to Skaneateles Lake Association Inc.
Click on the “Yes” box and select “Start Shopping” – Enjoy your holiday shopping and thank you kindly for your support!
(starts after viewing of video on “The Bob” – better quality version in video above annual meeting recording)
“Localized” Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) observed – Tuesday, August 23, 2022 at 8:56 am at Monitoring Zone 3525 near Skaneateles Village Docks

L2R – Olivia Green & Jim Howe with The Nature Conservancy; Joanie Mahoney – SUNY-ESF President; Zach Maslyn – Skaneateles Country Club General Manager; Gian Dodici – US Fish & Wildlife Service; Tim Johnson- Anchor QEA Engineers; Dr. Paul Torrisi – SLA Board President – planting an Elderberry Bush



Skaneateles Lake Association in cooperation with the Skaneateles Country Club, The Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, SUNY-ESF, and Anchor QEA Engineers celebrate stream enhancement project

October 19, 2021 – SKANEATELES, NY – The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) co-hosted a ceremonial planting event today with the Skaneateles Country Club (SCC) and project partners involved in making improvements to Dowling Creek, a tributary to Skaneateles Lake. The planting event was a celebration in supporting lake protection through the stream project that included The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchor QEA Engineers, and SUNY-ESF. READ FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE

L2R – Brandy Neveldine – ESF; Dr. Dana Hall – SLA Watershed Improvement Project Development Chair; Dr. Don Leopold – ESF Restoration Science Center Co-Director; Dr. Neil Murphy – SLA Board Member; Joanie Mahoney – SUNY-ESF President discussing plants

Click HERE to Learn More and Take the Lake Friendly Land Care Pledge Today!

LEGACY FUND: Fighting Harmful Algal Blooms together

Labor Day Parade

Editor, Skaneateles Press Observer:

In 1932 when Victor Arden and Phil Orman wrote the song “I love a Parade”, they gave tribute to the military parades of the times that still ring true for the present on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Veteran’s Day.

But, here in Skaneateles, the Skaneateles Volunteer Fire Department gives the community members and visitors a different type of parade to love on Labor Day   It is a parade that embodies so much of the life and spirit of Skaneateles – organizations, businesses and community groups “march” to showcase who they are and what they do for the community and the community and visitors come to cheer them on and, of course, grab some of the never-ending candy.  After two years of no parade, this year the crowds on the sidewalks and gathered on lawns in front of village houses were never ending

The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) was pleased to be selected by the Fire Department to be one of the community groups honored in the Labor Day Parade this year and we thank the Fire Department for the honor.

The SLA was showcased by our boat/float, “The Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat” with the Werner Family (Jo, Kitty, Kurt and Andy) on board the boat along with the boat’s do-designer and builder, Bill Dean and Tess Torrisi in charge the candy toss.  John Menapace, co-designer and builder of the Boat, and Paul Torrisi, SLA President, carefully pulled the boat and its passengers in the parade.

Frank Moses, SLA Ex. Dir., and I are thankful for the students who volunteered to also showcase our efforts to keep Skaneateles Lake clear and its water pure.  Isabella Karpinski in the Milfoil Monster Costume with Carolyn McSwain as a Milfoil Team Member “matted” the Milfoil Monster all along the parage route.  Max Karpinski and Lilly Miller carried the “Milfoil Control” banner that can be seen on the Milfoil Team boats when they are out working on the lake and Elliot Holm and Tara McSwain junior Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards carried the sign to remind all that our SLA Stewards help those who come to launch ensure their watercraft and trailers are clean, drained and dry.

For so many reasons, “We Love a Parade”.  A community showcase and specifically for the SLA an opportunity to showcase our many efforts to keep the Skaneateles Lake clear and its water pure.

Thank you to the Skaneateles Volunteer Fire Department for putting in all the effort for give the community a PARADE to love.


Fran Rotunno Fish

For the SLA Board of Directors

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer 9/15/2022


Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat “Commissioned”      

Gretchen Robert & Fran Rotunno Fish

 On Monday, July 27th, The Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat, affectionately known and secondarily, named “The Bob”, was commissioned into action at the Skaneateles Country Club where it will be moored via the courtesy of the Club.

Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) Executive Director, Frank Moses, welcomed the assembled community of donors and introduced SLA President, Dr. Paul Torrisi.  Torrisi noted that all had gathered for 2 reasons: to honor the man most responsible for promoting the conservation and preservation of Skaneateles Lake, Dr. Robert Werner. and to commission the boat in his name and memory to provide research efforts and educational/community outreach to all who live, work, and play here…along with hundreds of thousands in CNY who rely on this clear/pure body of water for its drinking and sustenance

Torrisi noted that two volunteer directors of the SLA needed to be recognized for their efforts.  He noted that Fran Rotunno Fish had initiated the idea of the boat being constructed in Bob’s memory; had raised the funding from the community and had obtained the many in-kind donations from community businesses that were also significant to our funding.  Dr. Torrisi noted that as the design and scientific requirements evolved during the early construction on the boat by John Menapace and his staff last year, it was volunteer Board member Bill Dean who jumped in to give so much of his time and expertise. He was able to complement John, Pete, and staff by researching the scientific needs of the boat through his position as Co-Chair of the SLA LET, from an operational, mechanical, and electrical perspective.  Bill worked days, weeks, months alongside John Menapace and his staff to finish the construction of this boat.

Torrisi noted that what was now in front of the gathering was a very soundly constructed tri-toon with a strong and easily maintained deck, hull, railings, and permanent “bimini” roof with solar panels energizing a complex series of lithium batteries, along with very sophisticated navigational, operational and scientific instrumentation and equipment.  It is a boat named in honor and memory of Werner, one that Werner would be very pleased to see, and what hopes to be a valuable asset to not only the SLA, but the entire watershed and CNY community for years to come…helping to keep this lake clear and pure, as it states in SLA’s mission statement and on our logo.

Fish shared the ease of the effort to raise the funding for the boat.  With assistance from Bob DeWitt and Steve White they had reached out to community members and not one of them refused assistance and many gave very generously for specific components of the boat.  She also noted the generosity and helpfulness of many area businesses was an important component of the funding for the boat.

With the gathering assembled on the shoreline and on the slips on each side of the boat, Bill and Bobbi Dean unveiled the boats signs naming it the “Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat.”

Bill Dean gave the gathering an overview of the equipment of the boat and what it   could be used for.  He explained the complex lithium battery system, the solar energy source and the very special trolling motor with GPS that will hold the boat in position for those activities that have to be done in very specific locations.

SLA member and Bob’s friend and neighbor, Larry Weiss, provided some words of reflection for the day.  He noted that the boat was one of Werner’s living legacies and that it is a testament to three things.  It is a testament to how very seriously Werner took his responsibility as a steward of Creation. Werner prophetically both took action himself, and also called the whole community to action to protect this lake. That is the role of a prophet, to rouse the community to action.  It is a testament to the response of the community to Werner’s prophetic spirit of stewardship.  Finally, in ages past, a great prophet was commissioned by receiving the mantle of their predecessor. The Skaneateles Lake Association, the related organizations, and most of all, the individuals who responded and continue to respond to Bob’s prophetic guidance and leadership in preserving the life of this lake are receivers of Werner’s mantle. Lord willing, may we also receive a double portion of Werner’s spirit. This boat will carry it forward.

Bill Dean did the honors of hanging the small flag with the name “The Bob” high on one of the “gull away” poles.  The “Commissioning” was closed with Jo Werner, Kurt Werner and Kitty Werner Robinson joining Bill on board for a “champagning” of the boat.

Bill Dean did the honors of hanging the small flag with the name “The Bob” high on one of the “gull away” poles.  The “Commissioning” was closed with Jo Werner, Kurt Werner and Kitty Werner Robinson joining Bill on board for a “champagning” of the boat.

The Skaneateles Lake Association thanks the following for their donations that funded the Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat:  David & Amy Allyn, Henry & Helga Beck, Dessa Bergen, David Birchenough & Carrie Lazarus, Wendy Blewett, Virginia Bryce, Laura Busby, Jeffrey & Marybeth Carlberg, Delores Chappell, Aimee Clinkhammer, Paul & Linda Cohen, The Columbian Foundation, Stephen Congel, Suzanne Congel, Jim & Sharon Cross, Robert & Roberta Culbertson, Jeffrey & Barbara Culhane, William & Barbara Dean, Merrill & Paula Denslow, Sid & Suzanne Devorsetz, Charles & Kimberly Driscoll, Ham & Fran Fish, Ronald & Rose Ann Gay, Sheila Goetzmann, David Graham, Greenville LLC, Holland Gregg & Patience Brewster, Amy Lynn Gregory, Brian & Maureen Harkins, Kenneth & Barbara Hearst, Donna Himmelfarb, Richard & Deborah Hole, Robert & Claire Howard, Peter & Jane Hueber, Jackie Keady, David & Sheril Ketchum, Edward & Lena Kochian, Richard & Mary Kokosa, Dorothy Krause, Judith Krieger, Lakeview Auto & Marine (Bob, Terri & Rachael DeWitt), Carolyn Legg, Brian & Jean Madigan, Mary Marshall, Kevin & Fran McCormack, Jim & Julie Moore, Judith Morrissey, Frank Moses, Patricia Orr, Michael Paciorek, Lawrence & Nan Pardee, Steven Phillippy & Janice Kemp Phillippy, Shirlee Powers, Floramay Racz, N. Sandor & Kristy Racz, Yvonne Racz, William & Gretchen Roberts, Andy & Kitty Robinson, Daniel & Linda Roche, Scott Rogers, Michael Schrader & Lauren Kochian, Steve & Sharon Songer, Wolfram & Elena Stahl, Mr. & Mrs. Robert A. Stevens, Gene & Joan Tarolli, Nancy Tiedemann, James & Deborah Tifft, Paul & Mary Torrisi, Larry & Katherine Weiss, Joe & Shasta White, Randall & Paula White & Frank Canastrano, Charles Williams, Lucy Williams, Marilyn Wurzburger

The SLA could not have completed the Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat without the in-kind donations from members, vendors and Skaneateles community businesses.  Join us in extending a thank you to each of them.

John David Hammond who donated the pontoon boat, which was originally used in the Milfoil Project, and later provided the basic framework and two of the pontoons for “The Bob”; Dorothy Krause for the use of her trailer during the first summer of the boat’s construction; the Mercury Motor Company for a special non-profit organization price on the new Mercury motor; Pete Severson at Sevey’s Boatyard for facilitating and supporting our request to the Mercury Motor Company for the motor and for special pricing on accessories; the Skaneateles Sailboat Shop for special pricing on accessories and safety equipment; Brinson’s Marina for special pricing on the specific trailer we needed for the boat; Lakeview Auto and Marine for providing gratis, safe winter storage; and The Skaneateles Country Club which is providing a gratis mooring for “The Bob”.

You can help support the work of “The Bob” and all of the efforts of the Skaneateles Lake Association to keep Skaneateles Lake clear and its water pure by becoming an annual member of the SLA.  Join online at SkaneatelesLake.org or call Fran Rotunno Fish at 315-558-3142 for a Member Registration Form to be mailed to you.

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer 7/7/2022