• Protecting The Finger Lakes
  • Educating People About Our Natural Resources
  • Working Together Regionally
  • Protecting The Finger Lakes
  • Educating People About Our Natural Resources
  • Working Together Regionally
  • Protecting The Finger Lakes
  • Educating People About Our Natural Resources
  • Working Together Regionally
  • Protecting The Finger Lakes

News

Another Successful Finger Lakes Issues Briefing “For the Sake of the Lakes:

On June 26, 2015, the Ventosa Winery on Seneca Lake hosted a lively discussion about current issues facing the Finger Lakes. Lisa Cleckner, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Institute served as moderator with presentations being given by Nancy Mueller from the NYS Federation of Lakes and Hilary Mosher from the Finger Lakes invasive species program (PRISM).  Also attending were State representatives and aides from throughout the Finger Lakes.

The highlights of the discussion appeared in Waterworks, the newsletter of the NYS Federation of Lakes Association.

“Hilary Mosher from the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management discussed the impact of invasive species, and NYSFOLA Manager Nancy Mueller urged increased staffing for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as follows: Over the last two decades, what was once the NYS DEC “Lakes Services Section” (responsible for monitoring, assessment, management, permit review, technical assistance, special studies, research, public education, etc.) has been drastically reduced. In the late 1980’s-1990’s, this section had 8-10 staff members in Albany, In addition, each of the 9 DEC regional offices had a designated “lake manager” who handled at least some of the lake related work load.

During this time, the DEC Division of Water was heavily involved in acid rain research, the restoration of Onondaga Lake, administering and developing management plans for many large lakes, helping lake related organizations, and contributing to other activities in support of private and public lake management. Since then, many of the same lake related issues remain while new issues have moved to the forefront.

DEC staff must now concern themselves with new concerns about harmful algal blooms, newly identified aquatic invasive species, numeric nutrient criteria requirements, and emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals.

At the same time, the “Lake Services Section” has been downgraded to the “Lake Monitoring and Assessment Section” with fewer staff members, less management responsibility, and even less funding. Monitoring budgets have dropped by more than 75%. DEC no longer has a collaborative agreement with the Department of Health to monitor and analyze water samples. The Federal Clean Lakes Program has disappeared. DEC sampling boats are all between 10 and 20 years old. Collaborative programs with several academic researchers are sunsetting. The Division of Water now has a very limited involvement in the management of most high profile lakes and acid rain research. There remain some regional staff dedicated to the Great Lakes, but there is little to no involvement in the management of the more than 7500 inland lakes in New York.

With retirements and attrition, only four lakes staff remain in Albany, and only a few of the regional offices maintain any lake expertise. Most of this has shifted to Fish & Wildlife staff. In the last year, four DEC Division of Water staff, who worked closely with the lakes program and represented 125 years of combined experience, have retired. None of them have been replaced.

In addition, younger seasonal staff who were kept on in an effort to maintain barebones programs have left because permanent jobs did not become available. As the remaining staff members age (all but one are over the age of 50), programs have been further eroded. Nearly all of these staff members will be gone in a decade.

The majority of the lake management work in New York, supported by the NYS DEC Division of Water, is conducted by a single staff person. Lake support from non-Division of Water staff is limited primarily to fisheries and public access support. Although there continues to be partnerships with other organizations, such as NYSFOLA, to deliver programs like the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program, lake management in New York, as overseen by the Division of Water, now falls well short of the high standard set for many years.

The situation will only become worse as the last remaining staff retire or get diverted into other programmatic needs. To make matters worse, many academic researchers at public and private universities have also retired or are near retirement. New York needs to put the “Service” back in the Lake Services Section! Research on lake related issues needs to move forward. We urge the Governor Cuomo and the state legislature to allow the NYS DEC Division of Water to hire 4-5 mid-level Research Scientists with expertise in lake management issues.”

A year earlier, on June  7, 2014 the inaugural Finger Lakes Issues Briefing was held at the Gould Hotel, Seneca Falls. Lisa Cleckner, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Institute, and Hilary Lambert, President of the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance were the event facilitators. The event focused on issues of concern regarding the environmental health and economic well-being of the Finger lakes region. Bob Bower, Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, and Jim Beckwith,  Owasco Lake Association, gave a presentation entitled “Our lakes as the economic engine of the Finger Lakes region”. This was followed by Eric Randall from the Conesus Lake Association who gave a talk about the need for an overarching statewide, all-agencies coordinated effort to prevent the spread of invasive species. Patricia Bergin Bedard from the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant and Jim Bromka from the Seneca Lake Association and the Manager of Village of Waterloo Water Supply, discussed “Finger Lakes drinking water concerns now and into the future”.

Following the presentations Lisa Cleckner facilitated a dialogue between audience members who included aides from many state representative’s offices, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. It was Barbara Lifton who co-sponsored the present New York State invasive species law.

 

The FLRWA Announces its Position on Hydrofracking