Board of Directors
Kathleen D. Sherlock
John M. Moore
Keith D. Ward
The Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation develops creative, pro-active projects based on sound science as interventions to assure environmental protection and conservation of the lake and its watershed.
Welcome to the Web site of the Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation.
The Board of Directors welcomes the opportunity to share the vision of the foundation with friends and visitors. The site briefly describes a bit about the lake and the development of the foundation. It also outlines the foundation’s modus operandi – what’s going on now and what lies ahead. While the foundation asks for strong financial support, it acknowledges with thanks those donors who appreciate the intrinsic value of DeRuyter Lake and support it. The foundation is on the job to keep DeRuyter Lake clean, healthy, safe and beautiful. All help is welcome.
The first chapter of the foundation story begins with a funny little fingernail-sized, stripped thing - the zebra mussel. It feels like a long time ago when the infamous sea-faring hitchhiker was first noticed in fresh water in the United States. The next thing anybody knew zebra mussels were in Oneida Lake and sneaking into virginal lake territories throughout the northeast. DeRuyter Lake stalwarts thought Not us. Those things will never get in our lake! Guess what, they did. Zebra mussels were first noticed here – attaching themselves to docks and sea walls - in 2006
That discovery was followed by a certain amount of shock and no small amount of panic. What do we do? Turns out there was nothing lake residents or the Tioughnioga Lake Association could do. Frankly, nothing has been developed since that gets rid of zebra mussels once they are in the lake. Oddly enough, zebra mussels have remarkable survival skills and tend to control their own population. For a few years they were everywhere, then their number began to diminish. Why? They were getting hungry. There were too many of them to thrive.
Weed harvester cuttings being towed away 2012
Alga - one of many varieties
Zebra mussels eat algae. DeRuyter Lake represented a veritable feast for zebra mussels for a while. Algae were everywhere. The zebra mussels so stuffed themselves that they dramatically reduced the algae count in the water. The food supply dwindled. There wasn’t enough for them to eat. No algae, less zebra mussel breeding, lower population and VOILA! Temporary hold on zebra mussel population. How nice. Everybody was happy. The water was clear and clean and crisp. What were we so worried about?
Think unanticipated consequences. A demon woke up. Hidden away on the bottom of DeRuyter Lake was Eurasion milfoil – an invasive weed – aka the demon. It lived modestly among the native weeds of our lake in relative obscurity for a long time. With the algae gone, the sun’s rays penetrated the clear lake water and the milfoil grew like grass on a spring lawn. Milfoil on steroids.
Eurasian milfoil outgrew native plants and suffocated many natives as it rushed from the bottom of the lake toward the sun. While residents were enjoying the clarity of the water, the Eurasion milfoil grew and spread so fast it became a menace. Boat props were fouled. Water skiers slogged through the stuff. Who wants to swim in weeds? There seemed to be no stopping it.
After several years of frustration with milfoil, the Tioughnoga Lake Association took a couple of very positive steps to deal with the problem. First, the association began an annual weed harvest. That was costly. Down the road, the cost was going to be more than the lake association could handle. Beyond that, it didn’t solve the problem. Some felt it exacerbated the situation. Still, the weeds were cut, gone and towed away by the ton at the height of the season. People felt better. The second thing the lake association did, working with the staff of the Madison County Planning Department, was to agree to work closely with Dr. Paul Lord who would conduct a study on DeRuyter Lake to explore if and how Eurasian milfoil could be diminished and controlled through natural means.
This is the point in the story where the notion of the foundation takes root.