Welcome to

Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation

Hope blooms eternal


"Tioughnioga is the river that flows through Cortland County.  The Delaware Indians gave it this name meaning waters with flowers hanging over their banks.

"Tioughnioga River is a larger form of the native word Tioga that refers to the forks of a river...which comes from the Indian word Te-ah-hah-houge meaning meeting place of trails and water at the same place."

Cited from Aboriginal Place Names of New York














Blue Moon

Who is us?

Officially, us is the Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors…who function under the guidelines of legal documents and carry out the mission to which the foundation is dedicated. Unofficially, us is everybody or any entity that has any interest direct or otherwise in the well-being of the lake. Members of the Tioughnioga Lake Association are us.  Year round residents are us, seasonal residents from counties across central New York are us, out of state summer residents from five states and the Virgin Islands are us. Bass fishermen and others who enter fishing tournaments on the lake are us.  Our government entities are us.  Local merchants are us.  The best of us are supporters of the foundation.

Legal Fact Check – Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation, Inc.

Certificate of Incorporation approved by the NYS Department of State as not-for-profit, non-member charity, February 6, 2012.

Received IRS Letter of Determination approving federal income tax exemption, Oct 18, 2012.

NYS Sales Tax exempt organization certificate, 

July 3, 2013

Sorting Out the Issues:

Creating Us

The motivation to develop a tax-exempt corporation evolved during the term of TLA president Mike Curran (2005 – 2009).  At the same time zebra mussels and Asian milfoil became significant problems.  A given was that the TLA lacked sufficient funds to combat an ever-expanding invasion of alien species. The Paul Lord study commissioned by the lake association was an eye opener…as well as a question raiser. 

A buzz around the lake about creating a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation got louder.  Some said who needs it?  Others said the work of the lake association could be enhanced with an interested other party capable of raising money. There were thoughts the TLA itself could be transformed into the tax exempt organization. Close inspection of IRS rules suggested that a homeowner membership association would not qualify.

Some facts were obvious: the cost of weed harvesting was going up, implementation of the Paul Lord study would cost at least $60,000 and it was a given that people donate more to their favorite charities when their contributions are deductible.  Beyond that, all of us wanted to keep the lake environmentally sound.

The First Step:

An ad hoc Committee Did Its Job.

At the September 2010 meeting of the Tioughnioga Lake Association President Richard Alter appointed an ad hoc committee charged with determining if and how a 501 (c) (3) corporation should be created. The assumption was that, if created, the corporation would be tasked with identifying endangering environmental elements in and around the lake and support intervention to combat them.

Those who served on the committee were Carol T. Jeschke, John Murad, Jr, legal counsel; Michael Curran, immediate past-president of TLA; Kathleen Kennedy Dwyer, Susan Skeele Hansen, Michael Palmer, Jerry Rice  and Richard Alter (ex officio).  Each committee member brought a special expertise to the committee…in law, finance, business, development, foundation management or environmental knowledge.  All had a keen interest in the on-going preservation of a healthy and environmentally sound DeRuyter Lake.

Part of the committee’s work included an opinion survey of DeRuyter Lake residents. A questionnaire dated 12/7/2010 was sent to the TLA membership. There was an 86% response.  Most responses were positive and enthusiastic.  99% favored the idea of creating a foundation, understood the clear difference between a foundation and the operation of the TLA, felt it was appropriate for the TLA to contribute to the start-up costs of a foundation and most were willing to become contributors.

Separate but Supportive Paths:

The Foundation Takes Shape

At the September 2011 meeting of the TLA, following an update of the work of the committee throughout the previous year, the membership approved a motion that the Tioughnioga Lake Association express its support for the creation of a Tioughnioga Lake Preservation Foundation. The work of the TLA ad hoc 501 (c) (3) investigative committee ended and the ad hoc committee was dissolved.  The effort to create a foundation independent and separate from the lake association – as required by law – was underway.


Those who had been on the committee served as a transition team for the foundation as plans took shape. The team met over several weeks beginning in the fall of 2011.  A mission statement was written.  Operational procedures were determined that became the backbone of the bylaws.  John Murad and Marion Hancock Fish led this effort with the assistance of associates at the Hancock & Estabrook law offices. The next step was to file with the NYS Department of State to become a NYS charitable corporation. Those listed on the founding documents are Carol Jeschke, President, Susan Hansen, Treasurer, Mike Curran, Secretary, John Murad, Jr. Those members elected to the first board of directors were Carol Jeschke, President; Sue Hansen, Treasurer; Mike Curran, Secretary; John Murad, Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Dwyer, Mike Palmer and RIchard Alter.

A Word about the Lake or Reservoir:

Whatever We Call This Place with Three Names

Us would be nothing without the lake.  So, the lake is also us – puzzling as the name-game sometimes is.  For the purpose of this Web site and official foundation documents, this place is Tioughnnioga Lake.  The same body of water is also referred to as DeRuyter Lake and DeRuyter Reservoir in other places.  An early historical account refers to the lake as DeRuyter Reservoir but suggests it is sometimes called Tioughnioga Lake because it was originally filled with waters from a branch of the Tioughnioga River that runs from the Susquehanna watershed north to Cortland then splits.  One branch is the feeder for the lake at the inlet. 

The EPA says this about the lake: DeRuyter Reservoir is one of the larger lakes in Madison County. The…lake has a distinctive history and hydrology…. Artesian springs feed the lake at its southern end supplementing natural runoff from its inlet streams and small watershed.  The DeRuyter Reservoir outlet forms the eastern headwater tributary of Limestone Creek…and ultimately converges with Chittenango Creek before flowing into Oneida Lake.

At the same time, the NYS DEC says DeRuyter Reservoir is a highly developed lake located on the border of Madison and Onondaga counties near the Town of DeRuyter. It is one of the numerous area reservoirs built to supply water to the Erie Canal. Its physical features suggest an elevation of 1,300 feet, area of 575 acres, length at 1.8 miles and a maximum depth of 55 feet. There is abundant vegetation on the shallower south end and also along most of the shoreline out to about 12 feet of water. Walleye, chain pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass are the main game fish found in the reservoir. Bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, black crappie, yellow perch, rock bass and brown bullhead are also found in the reservoir.

The First Problems Weren’t Zebra Mussels and Milfoil:

Think Farm Runoff, Bad Septic Systems and Phosphates

A big part of Us is and always will be the lake association. The TLA took the lead when the first problems were identified.  An EPA September 2008 story headline says of DeRuyter Lake - Water Body Improved. The article explains how excessive phosphorous from agricultural runoff and on-site wastewater systems from lakeside residences violated water quality standards and contributed to eutrophication of New York’s DeRuyter Reservoir. The problem included excessive growth of rooted aquatic vegetation that impaired boat traffic and discouraged fishing.  As a result, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) added the reservoir to the state’s 1998 303(d) list for nutrients. This was not good.  It may have taken ten years to earn an improved rating, but it happened.

Here’s how it was done.  A combination of a nonpoint source management project addressing each of the three principal sources of impairments – sediment, agriculture and on-site wastewater systems – improved water quality.  Therefore, NYS DEC proposed removing DeRuyter Reservoir from…list of impaired waters for nutrients (phosphorous). As part of a comprehensive nutrient management plan developed jointly by Madison County Planning Department and the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Tioughnioga Lake Association led an effort to help reverse the lake’s unhealthy diagnosis.

The report says that a circa 2001 DeRuyter Reservoir Septic Tank Pumping Project pumped nearly 25% of the residential systems on the lake and led to upgrades of nearly one-fifth of those systems pumped. Home use of cleaning products with phosphorous was discouraged.  Area farms adopted county recommendations for handling manure distribution on fields around the lake and the lake association developed a septic tank dye testing program designed to help monitor household septic systems. 

The lake association and the lake residents along with partners from local, state and federal agencies have been working on environmental conservation projects at DeRuyter Lake for a long time. Those efforts continue to this day. The foundation and friends uphold strong environmental preservation traditions at DeRuyter Lake.