News From the SLA…Looking Back and Looking Forward

News From the SLA…Looking Back and Looking Forward

Fran Rotunno Fish

The Board of Directors of the SLA, SLA members and the entire lake community know that 2017 will be a year to remember ….for many reasons.

The year begin with the Board of Directors making the decision to purchase another acre of matting to be prepared by John Menapace with cable/rebar to hold it in place so that during the season we could increase matting of milfoil patches from 5 to 6 acres.  This was a $10,000 decision that could only be made with the confidence that our ANNUAL membership dues and additional donations would grow to support the decision and still fund our total Milfoil Control Program and the Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program.  With intensive membership promotion efforts, the lake community responded.

The Board determined that it needed to enhance its efforts to protect the lake from additional invasive plants and animals by expanding the Steward Program season into the Fall and beginning it earlier in the Spring (when our student stewards are generally not available) AND to develop written materials and audio-visual programs that we could use on our website, at community meetings and via social media. To accomplish this effort the SLA would need seed funding and it was decided to apply for a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.  A group of SLA Board members worked together to complete the grant application and in June 2017 the Board was advised that the grant had been approved.

As a result, we were able to hire 4 adult Stewards to be on site at the DEC, the Town of Skaneateles and the Town of Scott boat launches during the Fall season and over 400 boats were inspected to ensure no potentially invasive plants or animals were transported from other bodies of water into Skaneateles Lake.  Continuing an expanded season for our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards can only continue with an increasing ANNUAL SLA membership as grant seed money is provided to get something started not maintain long term programs.

The SLA has also started working with Carrie Lazarus, who is volunteering her services, to produce a video about Skaneateles Lake emphasizing what makes it special, how invasive species will continue to be a threat and what everyone needs to do to help prevent the introduction of new or additional invasive species into the lake.  We look forward to the completion of this video for widespread use.

In July, we held our 7th annual SLA meeting on the property of Bill and Janet Stinson in the Highlands of Skaneateles.  Over 250 people joined together in their commitment to the continued beauty of Skaneateles Lake and its clear, pure water.  At that meeting, perhaps prophetically, Bill Stinson spoke of his hope we would all work together and that the landscape would remain green and the lake water blue.

AND THEN IN SEPTEMBER THE HARMFUL BLUE GREEN ALGAL BLOOM APPEARED and the Skaneateles Lake Association was the first responder, collecting the sample, getting it initially tested and alerting all the government agencies.

The SLA Board immediately went into action and consulting with community experts to develop an action plan and the workgroups described in that action plan have been hard at work and gathering participation from committed community members.

The Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup chaired by SLA board members, Bob Werner and Bill Dean, tasked to study and control nutrient management and runoff, has been meeting regularly to develop a plan to control input of nutrients into Skaneateles Lake at levels that would greatly reduce the probability of a harmful algal bloom (HAB).

The Watershed Community Involvement Workgroup, chaired by Mary Menapace, is developing plans for community forums, literature and programs.  The plans will offer every member of the lake community the information needed and the opportunity to do the right thing to care for the watershed and the lake and step up to the plate to help conduct these programs and practices on an ongoing basis.

The Watershed Governance Workgroup headed up by Bob Liegel, Esq. and Rich Hole, Esq. is working to establish a Watershed Council of all the watershed municipalities to speak with one voice regarding watershed rules and regulations, and enforcement.  This would help unify the entire watershed and expedite much of the work that needs to be accomplished.

The opportunity to discuss the seriousness of the Harmful Algal Bloom and the SLA’s commitment to respond to it was provided at a community meeting hosted by the Falcone Family and organized by the SLA on October 18th.  Community representatives from across the Lake Community and village, town, county and state representatives from every level gathered and gave insight to the issues and potential for action.  With the presence of the Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation it was a powerful meeting and a powerful vehicle for gaining the close attention of the Governor.

This Action Plan and its 3 Workgroups have become all the more important with the announcement by the Governor of significant funding for the protection of 12 NYS Lakes, including Skaneateles Lake, from Harmful Algal Blooms.  While we anticipate that this funding and the actions taken will be implemented under the State DEC we know that Aimee Clinkhammer from the Finger Lake Watershed Hub, who has already been working with the SLA Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup will be the DEC coordinator for Skaneateles Lake.  As such we expect our Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup will continue to be a key member of the team.

The Board of Directors of the SLA reminds the entire Skaneateles Lake community that we need their continued ANNUAL membership and the memberships of many more, especially lakefront property owners who have not previously joined the SLA, to continue to carry out all of our ongoing plans to protect the treasure that is Skaneateles Lake.

You can join the Skaneateles Lake Association online at or call 315-685-9106 and ask that a registration form and return envelope be mailed to you.

Source:  Skaneateles Press