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City of Syracuse working with Skaneateles Lake Association to prevent invasive species

Ellen Abbott
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Marty Minet, a volunteer steward with the Skaneateles Lake Association

The Skaneateles Lake Association is continuing a program meant to keep invasive species out of the lake, but they could use some help.

Anyone who launches a watercraft from one of the lake’s three boat launches, could run into Marty Minet or Roy Truswell, volunteer stewards for the Skaneateles Lake Association.

"What we normally do, check any vehicle going into the water, and as you can see it goes from power boats, to sail boats, to power vehicles, kayaks, canoes," said Minet. "We check to see if they are bringing in any invasive species and we ask where they’ve been prior."

If they spy things like hydrilla or zebra mussels, boaters are directed to a boat or car wash. 99% of the boaters are agreeable, but there’s always one that gets away.

"I had one guy that thought the problem was already here, and we wasn’t gonna fix it and drove on by me," said Truswell. "He refused to be checked, didn’t want to answer any questions," added Minet. "And all you need is one or two like that, and that’s the real reason we do this program."

Because it takes only one tiny piece of milfoil or hydrilla, or a thumbnail-sized quaaga or zebra mussel to infest a lake. And while the Skaneateles Lake Association has been dealing with these species for years,   it’s become more urgent, because if unchecked, invasive species can be a significant driver of the dangerous blue green algal blooms.

Skaneateles Lake Association Vice President Buzz Roberts said a more formal inspection program would help.

"We’d like to team with the city [of Syracuse], eventually form an inter-municipal council of towns around the lake, giving our stewards authority to inspect every boat and if they fail inspection go to a boat wash," said Roberts.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said that’s a possibility.

"If we’re able to have a little bit more teeth in the program, to be able to inspect those boats, ultimately that’s a good thing," said Walsh. "But in lieu of that, we’re working on a volunteer level and that seems to be working well."

Minet said the future of the lake is at stake.

"We won’t have clean water if we let those go by," she said. "We’re trying to keep the lake as it is, and if we can enhance the program, it’ll make it even better."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.