Volunteers are Vital for Healthy Lakes
by Betsy Janes
At the annual conference of NYSFOLA, the New York State Federation of Lake Associations, representatives of the member associations have expressed a common concern year after year: the membership is growing older; those who volunteer are aging out; it’s harder to convince young people to join, and few of them have the time to volunteer.
Some lake associations have memberships large enough (and/or wealthy enough) that they can hire paid staff. Others, like the Queechy Lake Club, rely entirely on volunteers willing to donate the time and effort needed to keep their lakes healthy.
We need to develop the next generation of volunteers. We need you.
We need you to watch for exotic plants that can overwhelm a lake. We need you to keep an eye out for invasive animals like zebra mussels and Asian clams, and to recognize algae blooms that might harm the health of lake users. Once you've learned which species are cause for concern and SHOULD BE REPORTED THE MINUTE YOU SEE THEM (really, I mean it!) you can be an "exotic spotter" whenever you’re on the water or strolling the lake road. If we catch invasives as soon as they arrive, there's a chance they can be eradicated. Once they gain a foothold, the effort and expense required to manage them can exhaust a lake association's human and financial resources.
Learn what you can do to improve the landscaping on your property, so that fewer nutrients will enter the lake from precipitation runoff or wave-generated shoreline erosion. Excess nutrients lead to increased weed and algae growth. And when boating, remember to observe the no-wake zone within 100 feet of shore.
We need people willing to pitch in on "chores." Offer to drive your pontoon boat once or twice for the bi-weekly water sampling we do for CSLAP (the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program, a monitoring and education program managed by NYSFOLA and NYSDEC.) Each trip takes only an hour or two. If you enjoy that, take the training so you’ll be qualified to collect the samples. Or, equally glamorous, spend a morning collecting for the end-of-summer bacteria testing!
When you've taken leave of your senses and decided you're able to make a greater commitment, volunteer to serve on the board of directors. If you survive that, consider leading the exciting life of a QLC officer: occasional meetings! With coffee and pastries! Any time and effort you can spare will make a difference.