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July 28, 2022  - Welcome to the Skaneateles Lake Association's (SLA) monthly e-newsletter distributed the last Thursday of each month.

Clear Lake. Pure Water. promotes watershed wide protection of Skaneateles Lake by sharing news on SLA's and community partner work around the watershed along with tips and takeaways on how we can all play a part in lake protection through Lake Friendly Living efforts. 

In this issue please find information on the following:
  • Calendar of Events - SLA Virtual Annual Meeting August 23rd @ 7PM and SLA with "The Bob" at the Antique Boat Show - July 29th - 31st
  • Watershed Improvement Projects - Making Way for Meadows!
  • Spotlight on Research -  SUNY ESF Satellite Lake Monitoring Pilot Study supported by SLA and the newly commissioned Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat
  • Water Quality & Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Updates - Lake Data, Kickoff to Volunteer Shoreline Monitoring for HABs, and how you can help be on the lookout as well
  • Invasive Species - Milfoil Control matting in place and opportunities to report additional invasive species
  • Membership & supporting SLA through Amazon Smiles with back to school shopping
Please enjoy!
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
July 29-31 - Antique Boat Show - Village of Skaneateles Clifft Park - SLA will be there showcasing the "Dr. Robert Werner Research and Education Boat" - please come say hi.

August 23rd @ 7 PM - SLA Virtual Annual Meeting - Register HERE - program details to follow...
WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
Make Way for Meadows!

Throughout history, landscapes have changed as society has evolved, eventually becoming what some would call a part of “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Lawns date back to medieval times, when shorter rye fields were used to increase visibility of intruders and became associated with the upper class. In Scotland, sheep cultivated lawns for bowling on the green and golf.  During the early 20th century, topiaries inspired by Italian gardens, like those of Edith Jones Wharton (likely one of the proverbial Joneses), became a status symbol. The lawns we know today were established with the availability of lawnmowers and the growth of suburban developments after World War II.

Today, our freshwater lakes face insurmountable threats, like Harmful Algal Blooms, stemming from nutrient overload sometimes attributed to storm water runoff. These threats call for reevaluation of whether our lawns around waters like Skaneateles Lake should continue to adhere to what history has shaped or whether we should look to new solutions and “keep up with” a new type of “Joneses”.

Fortunately, there is a national movement – and a recent surge of resources -- to support the transitioning of lawns to meadows to allow for more water and nutrient retention with plants that provide deeper roots than typical sod lawns. One local resource that has been developing local demonstration sites to educate our community is the Restoration Science Center (RSC) at the SUNY College of Environmental Forestry (SUNY-ESF). 

In its Private Lands Initiative Lawn to Meadow Program, RSC is leading the cause: assisting and overseeing the transition of traditional lawns to diverse and beneficial meadows. RSC coordinated with SLA, local landowners Dan Fisher and Lori Ruhlman (at the Colony on the east side of Skaneateles Lake), and Janice Wiles and Mary Menapace who are co-founders of GoNative! Perennials.

Considered a Skaneateles Lake Watershed Improvement Project (SWIP), the runoff reduction effort started with some top-bank buffer plantings supported by Dan and Lori, SLA, and Local Scout Troop 61 with consultation from Go Native! Perennials, and Dr. Donald Leopold of ESF. After the buffer plantings, there was still the issue of the long sloping grass hill.  In the fall of 2019, Fisher and Ruhlman joined forces with their next-door neighbors in the Colony and ESF to come up with a solution. 

Under the guidance of Sam Quinn, private lands conservation biologist at ESF, they planted a meadow June 2021. This summer, boaters slowed to see a field of gold as Black-eyed Susans -– one of 25 species in the seed mix – – bloomed. The previous nearly lifeless lawn is now home to insects, bees, butterflies, and songbirds. What’s happening where the eye cannot see is just as important: the roots are like an upside-down forest, slowing the flow of water and acting as a filter: the lake’s perfect kidneys (capturing nitrogen and phosphorus - limiting nutrients that can feed algal blooms).


Many thanks to Dan & Lori and their neighbors at the Colony for their leap of faith in changing their landscape for the better and inspiring our community to consider something similar.  Additionally, Go Native! Perrenials and Doce Lume Farms have dedicated countless hours and valuable land to showcase what a “Lawn to Meadow” transition can look like.

More information on the Restoration Science Center can be found by visiting: https://www.esf.edu/research/restorationscience/            

A helpful resource booklet on “Lawn to Meadows”, can be found HERE.

Please enjoy the video below on the subject and thanks for considering to “Make Way for Meadows”!

SLA continues to work diligently in identifying and prioritizing projects based on landowner willingness and available watershed data that helps drive decision making. To date SLA has invested over $115,000 into watershed improvement project design and implementation through generous donations made to the Legacy Fund.
Restoration Science Center of the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry's "Lawn to Meadow" program overview.
SPOTLIGHT ON RESEARCH
Photo (furthest to closest): ESF Graduate Students Andre Luo and Victor Igwe, ESF Professor Dr. Bahram Salehi, SLA Intern Nicole Kleinberg, and SLA Volunteer and Member John MacAllister training on water clarity data collection using a Secchi disc.

SUNY ESF Satellite Lake Monitoring Pilot Study supported by SLA and the newly commissioned Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat

Along with currently supporting the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) and Syracuse University's effort in "Developing 350-year records of Nutrient Loading and Environmental Change in Skaneateles Lake" (story to follow in future newsletter), SLA and the Dr. Robert Werner Research & Education Boat, (nicknamed "The Bob"), is now host to SUNY-ESF's Satellite Lake Monitoring Study led by Dr. Bahram Salehi.

On Wednesday, July 27th, Dr. Salehi and his team joined SLA to conduct a kickoff training on field data collection that will be used in machine learning efforts so that satellites can help monitor turbidity in Skaneateles Lake. Dr. Salehi and team will also be exploring the utility of drones helping provide additional data as well. SLA is working with additional volunteers to collect clarity data with Secchi discs at various points around Skaneateles Lake. 

"The Bob" hit the waters on June 27th of this year and is already being put to good use for better understanding Skaneateles Lake to help guide water protection strategies.

To learn more about "The Bob" named after the late Dr. Robert Werner who dedicated his time and expertise to SLA since its inception in 1969, please visit: https://skaneateleslake.org/thebob/ 

A recent article from the Press-Observer on the "Commissioning of the Bob" can be found HERE.

Please enjoy the video below re: "Commissioning of the Bob" produced by Bob Werner's son-in-law Andy Robinson with PRProductionsTV.com
"The Bob" 
WATER QUALITY &
HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM UPDATES
On July 15th, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's (NYS DEC) Shoreline Monitoring Program for Skaneateles Lake kicked off. SLA coordinates with trained volunteers covering about 30 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) monitoring zones around the lake. The NYS DEC and NYS Department of Health continue to promote "Know it. Avoid it. Report it." when it comes to responding to HABs. 

Observations of HABs on New York State lakes including Skaneateles, can be accessed HERE.

To learn more about the dangers of Harmful Algal Blooms, how to identify them, and how to report them, please visit HERE.  We need more eyes on the lake to be aware of any HABs. Thank you!

As of July 28, 2022, SLA is unaware of any HABs being reported on Skaneateles Lake this year. 

HAB experts have noted that algal bloom growth under the right conditions including nutrient availability can be optimal when water temperatures reach 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

A graph of United States Geological Survey (USGS) temperature readings by the Skaneateles Village Pier for the month of July can be found below. More real time and historic USGS data on Skaneateles Lake can be accessed HERE.
COMBATTING INVASIVES
Photo: team from Aquatic Invasives, Inc. supporting SLA's Milfoil Control Program 

Milfoil Control

Efforts to address the growth of the Eurasian Watermilfoil in Skaneateles Lake is well underway with over 325 mats (6 acres of matting) placed along critical areas of the lake bottom.  The benthic matting used is designed to stop growth of the Milfoil where it is installed by Aquatic Invasive, Inc. divers. 

Research suggests that plants like Milfoil, that if left unchecked, can grow exponentially and provide additional nutrient loading as they die off at the end of their growth season. An increase of the plant population can also replace native plants and significantly change the lake make-up that supports aquatic life like trout and other fish as well as quality of life for recreation. 

Investments from SLA to address threats from Invasive Species costs over $250,000 annually. This includes support of the Milfoil Control and the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention program with the boat stewards.  Onondaga County has recently committed $40,000.00 through the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FLLOWPA).  Thanks greatly to all who continue their support of these important programs!

Remember to keep your boats "Clean, Drained, & Dry"!
Want to make a difference in your community? Want to help the environment? Need a reason to get outside and back in shape? Join the Trail Trek! The Trail Trek is a volunteer initiative by the Finger Lakes PRISM to find three of our worst invasive species across the FLX in the month of August.
 
Taking part is easy, after a brief virtual training, on 8/8 @ 6pm, you will record the presence of these three species if you come across them on a hiking trail, in a park, or in your backyard. Invasive species are one of our greatest environmental threats. Help us fight invasive species!
 
Email any questions to gallo@hws.edu
MEMBERSHIP
SLA Membership & Support

Please help share the word with your neighbors encouraging them to become members of SLA if they aren't already.  

Also, have kids going back to school or other reasons to be purchasing on Amazon?  Yo can now support SLA as you shop. Consider locking in SLA as a default organization to support. Visit HERE for more details.
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