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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.   Layered natural landscapes (leaves, groundcovers, shrubs and trees) capture rain, allowing it to filter into the earth rather than running into the lake.   We struggle with the harms of increased runoff in eroded stream banks, failing roads, crumbling lakefront and toxic algae.  However, there is a joyful way to begin the urgent work of renaturalizing the land, thus healing the waters.  It is gardening  –  one of the most popular hobbies in America!  Let your holiday gift giving be about this essential and beautiful work –using native plants to rebuild bigger better buffers for a healthier more resilient watershed.  Here’s how:  Gift a subscription to Habitat Gardening of Central New York, ($40) out of Liverpool, or the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society ($20) based in Ithaca.  Bookmark  their websites for their robust programming and extensive resources.  Sign your friends and family up for their free newsletters.  Gardening for habitat directly translates to landscaping for water quality.

What kid doesn’t love to dig in the dirt?  Gift a bug net and magnifying glass, insect and bird identification guides, and a gift certificate to Prairie Nursery Native Plants and Seeds.  Over the winter with your little one, learn about native plants, and figure quantities (math!)  As they tend their little piece of the backyard next spring, they’ll be cultivating not just the land but patience and stewardship.  Oh, and don’t forget a journal to maintain a bug and bird list over the years, there will be lots of fascinating visitors.

 Nudging green thumbs, choose a garden apron, a hand tool or sunhat, and a generous gift certificate to one of the four regional nurseries that specialize in propagating native plants.  All of them keep up extensive, illuminating websites and free newsletters.  All have proprietors that are eager to share their wisdom and experience, including design services.  Spread the wealth, buy from each – (alphabetically) Amanda’s Garden in Dansville, Nannyberry Native Plants in Fulton, The Plantsmen in Groton, and White Oak Nursery in Canandaigua. 

 The holiday gift list can also be, alas, an ode to commercialism.  Resist more stuff!  Instead, share the joy and beauty of native plants and you’re giving a legacy gift to our beloved watershed. 

Mary Menapace works with the Skaneateles Lake Association on outreach and education.  If you are not a member already, Join!  

Source:  Skaneateles Press

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.

Ironically, the Jefferson Project’s Vertical Profiler and I both started working on Skaneateles Lake at the same time. The Vertical Profiler was added to Skaneateles Lake on July 31st and I began working with the SLA on August 1st. Over this period of almost 3 months, we both have taken in a lot of information.

SLA has met with the Jefferson Project several times since the Vertical Profiler was added to the lake. Though SLA has not been able to obtain the raw data from this device, we have been able to learn about some of the findings the device has collected and the Jefferson Project scientists have analyzed. One thing we has become more aware of, as a result of partnering with the Jefferson project, is the role of internal nutrient loading. This means that nutrients that are already in the lake, from many years of runoff, are now being resuspended and are becoming available to the algae.

On October 10th, I made a trip up to Lake George. On this trip, I was able to see a visual model that the Jefferson Project developed of our lake. This model depicted an internal seiche within the lake. We think an internal seiche may be contributing to internal nutrient loading. A seiche is a standing wave in an enclosed body of water. It’s almost like sloshing in a bathtub, but think of it with thermal layers in a lake. It is caused by a period of wind pushing in one direction for a significant period of time. The wind forces the warm layer of water downward on one end of the lake, which pushes against the cool layer of water beneath, and ultimately creates this wave that travels toward the other end of the lake where it hits at about 15-18 meters in depth. The force of this impact is enough to suspend sediment and nutrients, which algae can then take up. When the wind then calms and the weather is warm enough, it can form a bloom. It just so happens, that when the seiche hits the bottom at the North end of the lake, it hits close to where the Country Club sits. When it hits at the South end of the lake, it hits at about ¾ of a mile from the end of the lake. This means that nutrients are likely being suspended in both of these locations and could attribute to blooms there.

It is important to note that a seiche is not a new occurrence. Seiches have been happening for thousands of years and are common in most long, North-South oriented lakes. Unfortunately an internal seiche is not something we can control, and it is nearly impossible to remove the nutrients that are already in the lake. However, we can control external nutrient loading, this is why SLA plans to continue working with stakeholders around the lake to reduce their nutrient input into the lake. We all have a stake in our lake’s water quality and we must do as much as we personally can to stop nutrient loading into the lake.

We’d like to acknowledge our most recent event, our Landscaping for Water Quality Forum at the High School on October 23rd. This event allowed homeowners to learn about how they can reduce nutrient loading into the lake from their lawns. Thank you to our Presenters: Aimee Clinkhammer, Matt Biondolillo, and Don Leopold. Thank you to our co-sponsors: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of Skaneateles, City of Syracuse. We’d also like to thank the High School Environmental Club, volunteers, organizers, tabling organizations, and everyone who came out to the event.

Source:  Skaneateles Press


News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Going for 1000!                                                  Fran Rotunno Fish

The Board of Directors of the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) has not taken an official vote on setting a membership goal for 2018, but informally we all agree that we should easily reach a membership of1000 and it is important to make every effort to do so.

In 2011, when the SLA evolved from its predecessor organizations (Skaneateles

Lake Pure Water Association, Inc. and the Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association), the SLA Board of Directors determined that its future financial stability and ability to carry out the activities necessary to fulfill its mission would require broad community support, not the limited large donations and one-time government grants that had funded its efforts in the past.  Thus, SLA Annual Membership was born with efforts to reach a broad scope of the lake community to “spread the pain” of funding the SLA’s efforts.

In 2011, the first membership year, 293 families, individuals and businesses joined the SLA and in 2012 the membership grew to 548.  While our membership grew from 639 in 2013 to 822 in 2017, the threats to our lake also grew.  The scope of our action plan to protect the lake had to grow as we focused more expansively on milfoil control and preventions of the introduction of other invasive species, especially, the dreaded Hydrilla.  Of course, the Algal Blooms of the Fall of 2017 and this past summer have further intensified the need for expanding our membership and support.

There is no reason why we cannot achieve a membership of 1000 for 2018.  These are the families, individuals and businesses we need to join the SLA right now to achieve that goal.

There are 156 memberships paid between Oct. 2017 and Dec. 2017.  If 100% of them rejoin, we will be well on our way to 900.  They have all received renewal reminder letters in the past month or will be receiving those reminders in Nov. if they joined in Dec. 2017.

There are 177 memberships (74 of which are known lakefront or lake rights property owners) that were registered for a year or more between 2011 and 2017, but have not rejoined in 2017 or 2018.  If they all jump in and join, we make the 1000-member goal.

And, we can do better than that!  There are still 93 memberships registered between Jan. and Sept. 2017 that have not been renewed for 2018.  All of these have received membership renewal letters and follow emails, when available.

Perhaps the saddest number to report is the approximate 500 lakefront and lake rights property owners who have never supported the SLA or its predecessor organizations via membership or other donation.  Getting any of them onboard as members would certainly solidify achievement of our 1000-member goal.

Today there are two things you can do to surely get us to the 900-member goal, but we should be able to get to 1000 with your help.  So, if you are in any one of the “missing from 2018 membership groups”, join now!  If you have already joined go to our website (, click on the membership tab and check over the list of current members.  If you see anyone missing who should be a member and for whom a nudge from you would be helpful, please call me and confirm the status (as we have 30 anonymous members).  Then, if appropriate give them a call and share your reason for SLA membership and why you hope they will join also.

You can reach me at 315-558-3143 for membership status confirmation, if you want to have a member registration form mailed or if you want to help us grow our membership and can put in some hours to help with the effort.  With your help, we can make that goal of 900 and there is really no reason why we cannot reach 1000 members for 2018.

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Lawn Care, Lake Care for October                   Fran McCormack

You are a resident in the Skaneateles Lake watershed.  You’re concerned about the algal blooms and understand everyone can help our lake with better landscaping practices.  It is October.  Here is what you or your landscaper should do this month.

 Leaves and Lawn:  Keep mower blades sharp.  Mow grass no shorter than 3 – 4 inches in the Fall with a mulching lawn mower so that grass can still peak through.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn or rake and bag leaves or use as plant mulch so they don’t enter streets, road side ditches, drains, or gullies.  Or, do not mow your yard at all!  Mowing avoidance adds habitat, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and restores pollinators.

Seed bare spots to reduce erosion by establishing healthy, dense growth because thin, patchy lawns will have an increased amount of runoff and will transfer more to the lake (even if they are not fertilized).  Test your soil before considering fertilizing your lawn. Most soils in our area do not need fertilizer. Call Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) (585) 394-3977 for testing.

Remove all pet waste – bag it and throw it in the trash. (15-20% of bacteria that enter our waterways comes from pet waste).  This is good lake care every month.

Native Trees/Shrubs/Perennials:  Consult with a certified nursery professional for native trees, shrubs and pollinator-friendly plants.  Plant in the Fall before ground freezes (as long as you can dig) and mulch.  Plant native plants as a buffer along shorelines or stream beds to act as a sponge for storm water runoff.  A buffer can also discourage geese from walking on your property!

Plant a rain garden in a low area where water collects and plant with native plants to slow rainwater flow into the lake or streams or use a rain barrel under gutter downspouts.

New York State Lawn Fertilization Regulations are important to follow every month.  Do not use lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorus unless you are establishing a new lawn, or a soil test shows that your lawn does not have enough phosphorus.  Do not use any lawn fertilizer December 1 – April 1. Don’t apply fertilizer on sidewalks, driveways or other impervious surfaces. If fertilizer spills, sweep it up to prevent it from washing into drains or waterways.  Do not apply lawn fertilizer within 20 feet of any water body unless there is at least a 10-foot buffer of shrubs, trees or other plants between the area you are fertilizing and the water.

You will find a month-to-month guide for lawn care at this site:  The Homeowner’s Lawn Care and Water Quality Almanac –

Please Save the Date and plan to join us on Tuesday October 23rd at 7pm at the Skaneateles High School auditorium.  The SLA, CCE and Town of Skaneateles are collaborating on a forum on Landscaping for Water Quality with Landscape Architect Matt Biondolillo and Native Plant author and dendrology professor at ESF – Don Leopold.  You can register for this forum at

Join us in thanking the following for co-sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day:  Jessica & Douglas Fetterman, Annette & Peter Becker.

We thank an anonymous donor for sponsoring an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward for a day.

Every single membership counts.  70 households will be receiving letters this week reminding them it is time to join the SLA for 2018.  If all 70 join we could achieve a total household membership of 900 and that means by the end of the year we could get to 1000.  If you have received one of our annual renewal letters or a reminder letter that you were missed last year and are needed back this year please join today.  You can join the SLA online at or call 315-685-9106 and ask for a membership form to be mailed to you

Source:  Skaneateles Press



News from the Skaneateles Lake Association


  Landscaping for Lake Quality               Terry Hoffmann-DeWitt, Rachael DeWitt and Kathy Gorr

We’re hearing a lot of information about the quality of our beautiful lake, and people are asking ‘What can I do?’  Well, a sub-group of the Skaneateles Lake Association has formed to focus on providing those answers for you.  And the amazing thing is we don’t have to create the information.  It’s already been done for us by qualified people and organizations.  So the answer is ‘YOU can take this knowledge and do a lot!’

In the coming months, we will publish a number of articles which will cover 1) the role of phosphorus and nitrogen and landscaping with native trees and shrub plants to improve lake quality, 2) the Cornell Cooperative Extensions’ master gardener program, 3) contact information on local resources, 4) questions for a professional landscaper (with answers), 5) preparing for Spring and 6) environmentally friendly substitutes for harmful, invasive, non-native landscaping plants. This article will focus on the role of phosphorus and nitrogen and the benefits of planting trees, shrubs and groundcover that are native to our area, which can act as filters for unwanted elements entering the lake.

Phosphorous and Nitrogen:  Phosphorus in the form of phosphates is a powerful fertilizer which feeds algae.  Nitrogen is similar to phosphorus in that it also feeds microscopic plants and aquatic plants.  These two nutrients exist in the lake and are generally limited in quantity.  But when these nutrients are present in large amounts, typically from septic systems, lawn fertilizers, agricultural runoff and additional organic material in the lake such as raked leaves and when other conditions are right (hot weather and calm waters) they create an environment that allows algae to grow out of control with the potential of producing toxic and harmful effects on people, animals and aquatic organisms.

Fertilizers containing phosphorus should not be used on your lawn.  Take the time to read fertilizer labels.  The DEC advises to ‘Look for the Zero’ and purchase phosphorous-free products.  New York State law requires retailers to post signs notifying customers of the terms of the law and to display phosphorous fertilizer separately from those that are phosphorous free.  Be sure to look at the bag label for the phosphorous content.  The label should list a series of numbers and a lake friendly fertilizer might look something like this “5-0-5”.  The first number is the nitrogen percentage, the second number is the phosphorous percentage (which should be 0) and the third number is the potassium/potash percentage.  Low numbers are good.  You can decide to go chemical free.  Lawns don’t need fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers to look great.  Organic lawn care is possible and safe and effective alternatives exist for most products containing chemicals for pesticides and fertilizers.  These products promote deep root systems, natural photosynthesis and longer grass growth.  These alternatives can be found on the DEC’s Lawn Care web page.  Visit  Also, allowing lawns to grow native flowers such as snowdrops, forget-me-nots, violets, trout lilies and tiny daisies brings a whole dimension of flora and fauna beauty to your lawn.

Trees, shrubs and ground cover:  These provide excellent defenses against pollutants entering the lake.  There are other pollutants besides phosphorous and nitrogen such as an overload of soil, branches and other sediments containing nutrients.  If you plant a riparian buffer along streambeds or along shorelines using native plants, the volume, velocity and timing of surface runoffs have a chance to slow or even be completely absorbed before it enters our lake.

Native plants:  Native plants work well because they are already adapted to our local environmental conditions (like soil and insects), they require less water (which conserves a natural resource), create a habitat for birds and other wildlife, they don’t need fertilizers or pesticides and they prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.

Cornell Cooperative Extension has an extensive list of trees and plants.  Some examples are birch, serviceberry, dogwood, willow, ash, maple, fern, elderberry, sumac, elm, chestnut, blackberry, huckleberry, milkweed, lobelia, and coneflower to name a few.

There are a number of native plant nurseries locally who can provide even more information and are worth checking out.  Here are a few to consider:  The Plantsmen Nursery in Lansing, White Oak Nursery in Canandaigua, Nannyberry in Fulton and Amanda’s Garden in Dansville.   Another excellent source for native plant sales and programming is Baltimore Woods in Marcellus.   The Finger Lakes Native Plant Society in Ithaca is another excellent organization dedicated to promoting native flora.

Retention Ponds:  If you have a large amount of acreage, you might consider putting in a retention pond.  These ponds are situated in a low-lying area that is engineered to temporarily hold a set amount of water while the water slowly drains into another location.  Retention ponds limit the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen entering the lake.  They also reduce the chances of flooding.

Learn More:  You can learn more about landscaping for lake quality.  We recommend a publication of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, “Introduction to Organic Lawns and Yards” and CCE’s “Landscaping for Water Quality in the Finger Lakes Region”.   CCE’s contact information is (315) 424-9485,

Look for additional articles we plan to publish relating to Landscaping for Lake Quality as well as an upcoming workshop.  Save the DateTuesday October 23rd 7pm Skaneateles High School.  SLA and CCE are collaborating on Landscaping for Water Quality with Landscape Architect Matt Biondolillo and Native Plant author and dendrology professor at ESF – Don Leopold.

Through responsible landscaping and soil maintenance, you can make a real difference in the health of our waters.

Please thank the following for co-supporting the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days:  Elizabeth & Evan Dreyfus, Kimberly & William Gilberti, Jane & Thomas Hanley, Jack Rudnick, Janice & Richard Wiles, Elaine Palmer, Theresa & Jim Reed, Anonymous Donor.

Please thank the following for sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day:  Gwen Birchenough, Alexandra & Richard Nicklas

Please thank the following for their contributions to the David Lee Hardy Fund which supports our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards:  Stacey & Steven McClintic.

Every single membership counts.  This past month we wrote to over 200 members who had joined the SLA some year or years between 2011 and 2016, but who had not joined in 2017 or 2018.  If those 200 were to join for 2018 we could reach a membership of 1000 households and that would be great.  We look for each of them and each of or 2017 members to join for 2018.  You can join the SLA online at or call 315-685-9106 and ask for a membership form to be mailed to you.  It may be too cold for some to jump in and swim, but you can JUMP IN AND JOIN THE SLA TODAY!

Source:  Skaneateles Press


News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Happening Now and Soon      Fran Rotunno Fish

JEFFERSON PROJECT VERTICAL PROFILER.  Hopefully, you all read the article in last week’s Skaneateles Press about the vertical profiler that has been moored in Skaneateles Lake for the past few weeks by the Jefferson Project.  And hopefully, also, you read about the Skaneateles Lake Association’s initial outreach early this Spring to facilitate a working relationship with the Fund for Lake George and the Jefferson Project for the benefit of both Skaneateles Lake and Lake George.  If you have not read it, please do so.  If you did not get the paper or need a copy of the article, please request one from the SLA via the “contact us” tab at

FUND RAISING EVENT AT THE KREBS.  On September 12th, please join us for a fun filled evening with SLA guest bartenders, Paul Torrisi (Doctor of Drinks), Dave Birchenough (skilled at sailing/sliding them down the bar), and Debbie Bobbett (she can Stand Up [Paddle board] for the lake like nobody else) and more. They will be serving drinks from 6-8pm. All tips will benefit the Skaneateles Lake Association.

If you are curious about the state of our lake, want to donate, or want to know what we are doing to preserve and protect our lake, come! SLA Board Members will be available to share information about our current efforts and answer question.  Bring your friends who aren’t members, and we will encourage them to join the Skaneateles Lake Association.

MILFOIL CONTROL TEAM ACTIVITY.  The Milfoil Boar Team under the direction of John Menapace is in the process of picking up the 6 acres of matting put down on the largest patches of milfoil early the season.  First matting down is the first matting taken out.  Bob Werner and Bill Dean have finished the survey of the lake that is used to identify the location of further large patches of milfoil that will be included in the matting done next year.  The data collected will be analyzed and based upon the size of the areas of milfoil and their location being suitable for matting a plan will be made for next year. Please use caution if you see the Milfoil Boat in an area while you are out in your own watercraft as there are likely to be divers in and under the water.  Rolling these mats up is not as simple as rolling up a carpet in your living room.

EMAIL ADDRESSES.  When people fill out the SLA Annual Member Registration Form, they are asked to provide an email address.  Some do not do so because they are concerned about too many emails from too many people.  However, this last week with the recurrent Algal Bloom, as we worked to keep our membership and the community informed, there were people contacting the SLA to be added to our email list and some contacting us to update their emails.  In both cases these people had heard about our email updates and wanted to be kept informed also.  We, of course, add all who request to be added to our email list and, if not SLA members, we encourage then to join.

LOST AND FOUND ITEMS.  The Skaneateles Lake Association Website maintains a “lost and found site” to assist area residents with recovering or returning items that have broken away, broken off or just been left behind.  If you find something significant on the shoreline or recover it from the lake or lose something in the lake, use the “contact us” tab on our website and report your lost and found.  We will keep your identification confidential and help you get it back or return it.  Currently on our website we have five found items posted.  On Aug. 15th in the area of the Skaneateles Country Club a pair of red and black O’Brien Water Skis floating in the lake was picked up by a boating SLA member.   On August 31st an SLA member found what appears to be a sailboat rudder floating in the water about a quarter mile north of Lourdes Camp.  The fin is white fiberglass/composite with a wooden handle and an aluminum extension.  Finally, we have 3 items left at Lourdes Camp following our SLA Annual Meeting on 30th including a golf cap with a Renouvous Solar logo, a RAF Electronic Hardware water bottle, and a black Skaneateles Country Club Ladies Challenge Team blanket.  If any of these items are yours, please contact the SLA with your name and contact information via the “contact us” tab on our Website.  Thank you.

Please thank the following for co-supporting the Milfoil Boar for a day or multiple days:  Greenfield Lane Association, Lakeview Auto and Marine (Terry, Rachael and Bob DeWitt), Barb Conner and Doug Wood.

Please thank the following for sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days:  Kitty and Tim O’Donnell, Sheila Hemami, Kristine and Jeffrey Bogart, Coffin Construction, LLC, Demitra Vounas, Ten Mile Point South HOA, Cindy and John Varney.

Please thank the following for sponsoring an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward for a day:  Ann Kilian, Marie and Joseph Grasso, Collen & Peter Dean, Sandra & William Nichols, Susan and Bill Anderson.

Please thank the following for their contributions to the David Lee Hardy Fund which supports our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards:  Liz and Bill Sharp, Martha and Thomas Squires, Katie and Jason Armijo, Pine Bluff HOA.

 Source:  Skaneateles Press