General News

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Farewell from SLA’s first Executive Director                                 Rachael DeWitt

Through my entire life Skaneateles Lake has taught me many things. Growing up I learned how to swim, scuba dive, sail, waterski, and wakeboard on the lake. What started with water related hobbies cultivated a passion for water and a desire to protect and conserve water quality. In middle school I began volunteering with the SLA to spread awareness of the threats of milfoil. In high school I worked on the Milfoil Boat surveying the lake for patches of milfoil, and I began working as an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward. The foundational experiences I had growing up in Skaneateles inspired me to attend college at University of Vermont and major in Environmental Science with a concentration in Aquatic Ecology, Policy, and Management. I then went on to protect other lakes including Onondaga Lake and Lake Champlain only to return to Skaneateles Lake as the first Executive Director of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA). I like to joke that the SLA has kept me employed over the past 10 years.


It’s been an incredible year working for the Skaneateles Lake Association. The SLA is a unique organization in that a majority of the organization is comprised of volunteers. This year our board is expanding from 20 to 25 members. Our board is made up of PhDs, scientists, environmental consultants, lawyers, engineers, not-for-profit executive directors, political affiliates, teachers, doctors, nurses, self-employed individuals, and many other backgrounds. Combined they poses an incredible variety of skills and are providing them to the SLA free of charge. Think of what someone would have to pay to hire a consulting group with that much knowledge! This knowledge base is what I had access to this year, and this community should recognize the gift that these individuals provide at no cost. They are truly remarkable people who are willing to put in 12-hour days if it means protecting this lake.


With this foundation of people to make up the SLA, we have accomplished a lot over the past year. Our membership has expanded to over 1,000 households (or ~2500 individual members). We are expanding the Aquatic Invasive Species Stewardship Program to cover all the boast launches entering Skaneateles Lake. We’ve acquired an office in St. James Church at 96 East Genesee St (however our mail still goes to PO Box 862). We are combating harmful algal blooms (HABs) through remediation projects, educational opportunities, and scientific studies. We have identified 30 remediation projects such as catch basins, riparian buffers, restabilization of streams, settling ponds, and wetland restoration. Our identified remediation project list seems to grow daily and we are breaking ground on several of these projects this year. Unlike our board members’ ability to work free of charge, our effectiveness in preventing HABs does require money. As a result, we developed the Legacy Fund, which is specifically devoted to fighting harmful algal blooms. We have been able to raise significant funds to implement remediation projects, monitor streams, and other activities that can help reduce the likelihood of a HAB occurrence. We’ve also engaged government officials, local/state/federal government agencies, environmental not-for-profits, universities, freshwater institutes, engineering firms, environmental consulting groups, businesses, and other groups into our efforts. Collaboration is the key to success. We have also hosted several educational and fun events to inform the public about HABs, landscaping for water quality, aquatic invasive species, and general SLA initiatives. These are some of my favorite moments working for the SLA because I am always in awe of how many people come to attend these events. It truly shows how many people care about this lake and will take action to protect it. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved or supported the SLA. I am amazed at all that has been accomplished by so many impassioned people.


Though it is hard for me to walk away from all that has been started, I know the SLA will be in good hands with our new Executive Director, Frank Moses, who has an incredible resume and toolbox of skills to carry the torch on all the initiatives that have been started. The leadership of the SLA board will guide him, just as they guided me. I will be leaving the SLA on June 14th to continue my environmental education at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. I will be starting a Master’s degree program on June 26th in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and intend my next career path to focus on coral reef conservation. I am thankful and forever indebted to the SLA for giving me a start in this field. This job has been fun, meaningful, and is one of the reasons I believe I was accepted into graduate school. Though I will be moving across the country, Skaneateles Lake will never be far from my thoughts and I am still happy to serve as a lake conservation resource to anyone seeking advice. I will truly miss the SLA and hope to be helpful to them from across the country.



Please thank the following for their sponsorship of the Milfoil Boar for a day: Nancy & Douglas McDowell, Elmer Richards & Sons, Donna & William Davis, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Katherine & Joseph Compagni, Jane & Peter Hueber, Marjorie & Kenneth Blanchard, Alexandra & Richard Nicklas, and Libby & Arnold Rubenstein.

Please thank the following for their co-sponsorship of the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days: Anne & John Sveen;, Maureen & Joseph Wilson, Richard Alciati, Joan Christy & Thomas Bersani, Susan & Dana Hall, Kathy & Kevin LaGrow, Pamela & Michael Odlum, John Priest, Rhonda & Craig Richards, Patricia & David Stone, Carolyn & John Tierney, Lisa & Michael Wetzel, Paul White, Sharon & Edward Barno, George Ann & Edwin Bock, Carol & Tom Fletcher, Mark Allyn, Ann Buehler, Jacqueline Bays & Joseph McCaffrey, Elizabeth Downes & Patrick Doyle, Barbara Egtvedt, Jean Shook & Chris Johnson, Molly & Bill Spalding.

Please thank the following for their sponsorship of a Steward for a day or multiple days: Martha & William Cole, Lori Ruhlman & Dan Fischer, JJo & Bob werner, Lisa Letizia & Paul Floreck, Dr. Robert Vitkus, Dessa & William Bergen, Kathryn Pasqua & James Helmer, Suzanne & Scott McClurg, Christine & Robert Pierce, Judd Seales, Brenda & Thomas Parkes, Racquel & James Vlassis, Kristopher Scholl, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Jane & Peter Hueber.

Please thank the following for their donations to the David Lee Hardy Fund which significantly supports our Steward Program: Linda Solana & Clifford McBroom, Patty & Jim Hertz, Mary Ellen Faughnan & Gregory Kenien, Robert Warfield, Graia Koziol, Nancy Murray, Kuni & Patrick Riccardi, Carol Lynne Krumhansl & Jeff Roberts, Katherine & Joseph Compagni, Joan & Alan Coates, Mary Giroux, Kathleen & Dan Mezzalingua, Jane & Peter Hueber, Edward & Deborah Brennan.

Join all these generous donors in SLA Membership, Milfoil Boat, Steward and Hardy Fund Sponsorship and go beyond SLA Annual Membership and support the Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake. You can do this online at or call 315-685-9106 for a Member Registration Form.

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer





News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Letter to the Press-Observer

From the natural springs that feed into it, to the unfiltered water that pumps out – Skaneateles Lake truly is the beating heart of our community and our region. It’s our lifeblood. It’s our economic engine. It’s a shared love that unites us all. Now it’s time we step up to maintain the legacy of collective care, appreciation, and preservation of our most precious resource.

On behalf of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) Board of Directors, we want to thank the hundreds of people who attended the “Party on the Point” on Sunday, May 24th. In addition to expanding the organization’s membership base, the event provided the SLA an opportunity to launch the Legacy Fund, a capital campaign designed to fund research and remediation efforts to address the scourge of Harmful Algal Blooms. Action must be taken now to better understand the causes of the bloom and to test preventative measures.

Investing in our lake now will eliminate the costs of doing nothing:

  • Treating tainted drinking water at a cost of over $150 million if the filtration avoidance waiver is lost.
  • Losing a $2 billion tax base as lakefront property values plummet.
  • Compromising the ecosystem of one of the cleanest lakes in
    the United States.
  • Reducing the appeal of living and recreating in Skaneateles to prospective employees of the various local businesses.

One of the most exciting announcements at the event came from County Executive, Ryan McMahon, who will provide the Town of Skaneateles with a loan of $106,000 to expedite the monitoring and analysis required as we develop our comprehensive watershed plan (also known as the 9 Element Plan). This investment will pay dividends in the future and frees up the SLA to invest more money into remediation projects.

By all measures, the event was an enormous success and due to the efforts of many, many people, including:

Entertainment: The Dean’s List and Passengers, The Band.

Hosts: The Skaneateles Country Club (also working with the SLA to remediate Dowling Creek).

Government Leadership: Bob Antonacci, Ryan McMahon, Julie Abbott-Kenan, Mike Plochocki, and Janet Aaron

Promoter: Chase Design.

Raffle donors: Debbie Bobbett, the Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Lakes Navigation, Skaneateles Country Club, Betsey and Bob Madden, Lakeview Auto/Bob DeWitt, and the Skaneateles Marina.

Volunteers: Bill Dean, Fran Fish, Paul Torrisi, Kelli Ide, and the many other SLA volunteers.

SLA staff: Frank Moses, Incoming Executive Director, and interns Mia Grasso and Mitch Madden.

If you have not made an investment in the Legacy Fund, please consider doing so now. For information on how to make a donation, visit We thank you and look forward to seeing you at future SLA events, including the Annual Meeting from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm on June 29th at Lourdes Camp.

Jessica Millman, Co-Chair

Legacy Fund Campaign


Rachael DeWitt, Executive Director

Skaneateles Lake Association

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer




News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Membership Matters – verb and noun                                               Fran Rotunno Fish

Membership matters – verb. Yes, membership matters because each and every membership helps to substantiate the SLA as a significant organization. READ MORE

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.READ MORE

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.READ MORE

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. READ MORE

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. READ MORE

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”.  READ MORE

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.   READ MORE

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.READ MORE