ALERT: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have been observed in the south eastern end of the lake.  LEARN MORE


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 or call 315-558-3142 and ask for an Annual Member Registration Form to be mailed.

Source:  Skaneateles Press