COVID-19 Statistics Fran Rotunno Fish
In the early Spring, amid the pandemic and the necessary public health guidelines for personal safety and prevention, the Skaneateles Lake Association Board of Directors spent some days considering the appropriateness of continuing our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program at launch sites around the lake. The Board considered that while an important part of our mission is to protect the Skaneateles Lake from the introduction of additional invasive species, we also had to be confident that we could protect our Stewards from exposure to COVID-19 19.
Under the direction of SLA Board Member, Buzz Roberts, a careful plan that including educating our Stewards on mask and distancing requirements, providing them with those masks and hand sanitizer and having sandwich board signs posted to ask those who came to launch to protect our Stewards by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. With that plan in place the Board determined, we could go forward with the program, but would pull back if there was any indication of a problem with the safety of our stewards who are high school and college students and adults from the watershed community and beyond.
None of us knew when we started the Stewards on Memorial Day weekend how important that decision to go forward with the program amid the pandemic would be
The pandemic and the public health guidelines for responsible behavior by our citizens made Skaneateles Lake a safe alternative to other options for getting out and about. You know the old line, “if you build it, they will come”, but for our lake that line became “if it’s there and we can get on it, we will go there.” Boat sales around the northeast went off the charts and people drove from more confined places in New York state and neighboring states to the NYS lakes and other bodies of water for some open space that was safe.
The statistics objectively tell the story of what happened here on Skaneateles Lake. Our 16 Stewards under the direction of Head Steward Marty Minet inspected 9,952 watercraft that launched into Skaneateles Lake. The number is almost double wat it was in prior years. They also educated 21,254 boaters who came to launch regarding the NYS regulation requiring watercraft to be clean, drained and dry before launching into any NYS body of water. But, the most important statistic was that 6.59% of the watercraft they inspected came to the launch site with organisms or debris on the watercraft or trailer. That % in prior years has been 2 – 2.5%. The SLA has written, spoken and shared via various media of the significant risk that new invasive species could be to Skaneateles Lake all of them with their own threats to the lake, but none more threatening than Hydrilla. Our Stewards saved samples of the organic material from the watercraft and trailers for confirmation of type and while none were Hydrilla, there were others such as the round goby that were identified. The increase in the % of watercraft coming to launch with organisms or debris also occurred in the 9 Finger Lakes where the Finger Lakes Institute manages Steward Programs. Overall, they had a 10% rate of watercraft coming to launch with organisms or debris on the watercraft or trailer.
The number of watercraft coming to launch into Skaneateles Lake was so increased that the SLA Steward Program had to expand its hours and days of coverage and pull Stewards who were not scheduled in on days when the DEC Launch site was so quickly filled that boaters were being sent early in the morning to the Town Boar Launch in Mandana. Additionally, the Town of Scott launch became a very busy site. This occurred over the early months of the season as those coming to the Skaneateles Lake from the south end of the state, Pennsylvania and beyond seemed to quickly learn that it was better to get into the Town of Scott launch site than travel further north and not be sure they could get into either the DEC or Town of Skaneateles launch sites
When the SLA Board made the decision to run the Steward Program this past summer, they were aware of two risks. The risk for the lake water if we did not run it and the risk for our Stewards if we did run it. Given the statistics reported above we know we made the right decision to run the Steward program this summer. The entire SLA Board is pleased that the general public coming to launch were generally compliant with our request for social distancing to protect our Stewards and about 25% of them followed our request that they wear masks. The Board is also very proud of our Stewards for carrying out their responsibilities during a very busy season while protecting themselves and others while doing so. It would also appear that our Stewards were responsible to their communities at large both on and off the job as our last statistic to report is that no Steward became ill with COVID-19 19 or tested positive for it this summer. Please join the SLA Board in saluting our Stewards, Roy Truswell. Julia Torrisi, Jim MacLachlan, James Murphy, JP Soderberg, Lili Winkelman, Robert (Bob) Deyo, Wendy MacLachlan, Meredith Wolanske, Lauren Place. Hope Cross-Jaya, Ella Callahan, Sage Crawford, Neil Minet and Brian Harkins, for a job well done and responsibly done:
You can join the Skaneateles Lake Association and help support our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program and all our efforts to keep Skaneateles Lake clear and its waters pure. Call 315-558-3142 for a Member Registration Form to be mailed to you or join on line at SkaneatelesLake.org.
We thank the following for their sponsorship of a Steward for a day: Michele Jenkins, Judith & Steven Zdep, Margaret & William Lee, Suzanne & David Nangle, Barbara & Robert Amsler, Suzanne & Scott McClurg, Cathy & Rick Fedrizzi, Merilly & Gerhart Heyer, Virginia & Jeffrey Stannard, Casmir Bobowski, Mary & Michael Hearn, Joanne Viggiano & Kenneth Cannon, Alison & Richard Conley, Lorraine Gudas, Bob Honold, Chris & Bob Latella, Locust Lane Association, Eri Loberfeld, Sharon & Fredrick Singler, Jennifer & David Campanile, Laura & Sean O’Keefe and an Anonymous Donor.
We thank the following for support of the David Lee Hardy Fund: Charles Major, Jeffrey Stregiel, Jennifer & David Campanile, Judy & John Varney, Judith Pearsall, Leah & Thomas Valenti.
We thank the following for co-sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day: Ann Hinchcliff, Patricia Orr, Paula White, Barbara Egtvedt, Judy & John Varney, Judy Pearsall, Leah & Thomas Valenti, Bartlett Tree Experts, Kathy & Kevin LaGrow, Rebecca Cohen & Brandan McGinn, Pam & Mike Odlum, Kate & Mott Pooley and an Anonymous Donor.
Source: Skaneateles Press Observer 12/10/2020