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Although spring was a bit cool, summer is just around the corner and that means HABs, Cyanobacteria blooms, aren’t far behind.
We are looking for the following assistance:
Shoreline volunteers to monitor a mutually-agreed shoreline zone at least once a week from August through early October. A two-hour training session will be provided (likely remotely) for all volunteers.
HAB sign placement volunteers to install informational signs at water entry points in Ontario and Yates counties. We really need a few people to make this happen.
Administrative support to run the HAB program behind the scenes where we can use help to conduct a number of activities.
To volunteer for any of these roles, go to the Seneca Lake website volunteer page HERE. Hit the green “Sign Up To Volunteer Here” button then select the role you are volunteering for in the “Citizen Science & Water Testing” drop down field.
As most of you know, the National Lake Trout Derby has been an iconic event on Seneca Lake for the last 55 years. Over the course of that half century, avid trout anglers in the Finger Lake region and beyond, have taken to their boats and docks, with a flashy assortment of spoons, lures, and baits in their tackle boxes, to catch trophy fish and compete for prizes and recognition in the Derby, on “The Lake Trout Capital of the World” - our own Seneca Lake.
Many of us were concerned that the Corona virus situation, across New York and the country, would impact the ability of the Derby committee to hold the event this year. But as of the publication of this newsletter, the good news from the committee is --- “the Trout Derby is STILL ON”.
While there will be some restrictions on the fish weigh-in procedures, and some scale back of the usual social aspects of the Derby celebration (all consistent with the social distancing guidelines established by the Governor), the NYS Department of Health has approved the event to go forward, for the dates of May 23, 24, and 25th.
Prizes this year will be pro-rated based upon the volume of registrations, and Stivers' Marina will host the sole weigh-in station. As Bob Stivers has stated,
"Fish safe with friends and family - the same ones you sit around your living room with. Weigh safe - Bring your fish to the weigh stations one boat at a time, one person to the scales at a time, wear a mask, and stay six feet apart. Wash hands again and again. The Derby is on. Get signed up to keep the prizes at full price."
Registrations, as well as event rules and procedures, are available on-line at the link below, in person at Stivers Marina, or at Roy’s Marina, up until May 23rd. There is also great information available on Facebook under “National Trout Derby on Seneca Lake”.
Good luck to all of our members who will participate --- and stay safe!
Boater Safety Week
Over the next few months more of us will be using boats on the Finger Lakes. Since National Boating Safety Week is this week (May 16-22, 2020) , it is a perfect time to review boating safety guidelines.
Cold Water Hazards - In the earlier portions of the boating season our lake temperatures are dangerously cold. If boaters happen to fall into the cold water, it can be a matter of a brief few minutes before they become incapacitated.
As a safety precaution, those rowing boats, such as kayaks and canoes, should attempt to stay close to the shoreline. Should a boat capsize, that may allow the boater to make it to shore or possibly obtain assistance from someone nearby.
Weather - No matter what type of boating you are doing, check the weather forecast for the day with a keen eye for wind conditions that might change quickly causing high waves and a boat to capsize. If things look dicey, stay ashore. If you are on the lake and the wind starts to rise or if you see a storm is approaching, it’s time to get off the water and save your recreation for another day.
Boat Maintenance - If you are operating a motorboat or sailboat, make sure all equipment is in good working condition. If there is a breakdown you can be stranded for hours on a large lake since other boaters may not be close enough to hear your horn or whistle, or you shouting for help.
Safety Equipment - Never get in any boat without having a life jacket that fits you. Insist that family and friends also wear a life jacket. This goes for good swimmers and on any type of boat.
We want you to observe these cautions yourself and with your friends and family. Take opportunities to spread the word among friends, neighbors, and folks around the lake, so that everyone can enjoy a happy, safe, sunny summer in the Finger Lakes!
Fishermen and women enjoy the natural beauty of the lakes and rivers they haunt, and the peacefulness and solitude of the sport. But what really gets us out there is catching fish. “The tug is the drug” is a T-shirt slogan that captures the reason we’re out there in all kinds of weather. Experienced Seneca Lake anglers have noted that many fish populations have dropped precipitously in recent years. This has been especially true of the warm water species (northern pike, bass, perch and other panfish), but we’ve also seen a reduction in catch rate of the cold water/trout species.
I live on the lake and fish it throughout the year for a number of species. I’m a fairly casual fisherman, though the thoughts contained here are influenced by reports from some more serious fishermen. First a quick summary of changes noted in fishing success will be provided, followed by a discussion of potential factors for the changes seen. Brad Hammers, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), Region 8, Fisheries Biologist, was kind enough to provide input on this article. Where Brad’s view differs from mine, or provides additional information, I’ve included his response in italics.
With no personal experience, I’ve heard many reports from winters’ past of fishing weed bed edges for large catches of big northern pike. When I moved full time to the lake in 2010, I would see and catch some northerns during winter perch fishing. In recent years, that fish has become rare in my area of the lake. (Brad- A 2014-15 fish community survey found a fair number of northern pike throughout the lake, and we have reports of good pike fishing in the last couple of years).
The bass fishing that was once excellent has degraded significantly, though there are some signs of a recent rebounding. (Brad- The ‘14-15 survey found a moderate number of smallmouth bass. Uncertain now, but had planned a bass survey for this spring, along with other fish surveys, to compare Seneca to other NY waters).
Fishing for large perch in large numbers was common in Seneca Lake, recognized as strong as its famous lake trout fishing. The last few years have seen a dramatic decline of perch anglers, who have now largely moved to other lakes to pursue this quarry. Experienced perch anglers are still getting some fish, but it’s a much tougher game to find a school and catch a few fish these days. Very disturbing to me is an apparent lack of small fish . (Brad- The ’14-15 survey found large numbers of perch. Hearing from anglers that perch are there but are more finicky.)
Lake trout fishermen report reduced catches and smaller fish, whether pulling copper, running down riggers, or jigging. The trout derby has seen fewer fish of smaller sizes in recent years. (Brad- Stocking levels were reduced due to increased natural recruitment in the mid 2000’s. Recent surveys indicate decreased natural recruitment. Less stocking, lower recruitment, and increased sea lamprey population likely causes of lower adult lake trout numbers. DEC is now increasing stocking levels.)
Smelt fishing (net dipping) was once a spring-time ritual across the Finger Lakes. Now that fish seems to be gone from these water bodies. (Brad- Smelt likely at an undetectable level.)
There have been many changes to the lake ecosystem that are likely contributing to these observations of our fish populations and fishing success. Discussions with experienced fishermen and inputs from biologists have been distilled down to some observed changes with potential impact to the fishery. One overriding theme is the large impact of invasive species.
It’s curious to me how similar and yet different this lake is from our nearest neighbors, Keuka and Cayuga Lakes. While they suffer from most of the same invasive species, the response in their fisheries seems quite different.
Many thanks to Todd Cook for initiating the thread of emails that prompted this article. The view that invasive species are a major factor in the changes we see in the Seneca Lake fishery seems to be well founded. The lake will change and adapt to these and other impacts, while anglers will continue to search out their quarry. To help assess the lake fishery and biology as it changes, and to support actions to improve it, Seneca Pure Waters intends to pursue a more active partnership with the fisheries area of NYS DEC Region 8.
Read the article HERE.
2020 WENY NEWS, CHRISTINA EPISCOPO - 1/15/2020
Read the Article
Click to read the article on Finger Lakes Daily News
According to the USGS website: "Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) are increasingly a global concern because CyanoHABs pose a threat to human and aquatic ecosystem health and cause economic damages. Despite advances in scientific understanding of cyanobacteria and associated compounds, many unanswered questions remain about occurrence, environmental triggers for toxicity, and the ability to predict the timing, duration, and toxicity of CyanoHABs. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are leading a diverse range of studies to address CyanoHAB issues in water bodies throughout the United States, using a combination of traditional methods and emerging technologies, and in collaboration with numerous partners. By providing practical applications of cutting edge CyanoHAB research, USGS studies have advanced scientific understanding, enabling the development of approaches to help protect ecological and human health."
Visit the Current Conditions page of this website to access a link to the real time data provided by the USGS Advanced Monitoring Platform/Buoy.
By Hobart and William Smith Colleges on April 26th, 2019
Villages, towns and cities around Seneca Lake now have a fulltime advocate for the management of their water supply’s health and longevity.
As the Seneca Watershed Steward, Ian Smith will be coordinating regional efforts to preserve Seneca Lake as a clean source of water. Hired in early 2019, Smith reports to the executive committee of the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO), the regional body covering the 40 municipalities in five counties that span the Seneca Lake watershed. Smith is based at Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute (FLI), under the supervision of FLI Director Lisa Cleckner.
“People use the lake for recreation and drinking water, so first and foremost we want to protect what’s already functioning and highly valuable,” says Smith, who hopes “to take the framework of on-the-ground projects to get ahead of the game” on issues like invasive species, nutrient loading and algal blooms.
As watershed steward, Smith is tasked with developing expertise in Seneca Lake’s watershed challenges and providing guidance to steer the programming and actions of SWIO. Under this umbrella, his mandate includes updating and maintaining watershed quality data and water quality improvement projects; helping implement a Nine-Element Watershed Plan for the Seneca Lake watershed; organizing and executing programs to support SWIO plans; improving public understanding of Seneca watershed issues; and cultivating funding options for such initiatives.
Smith’s position is supported through state funds earmarked for the Town of Geneva as part of a wider $110 million effort to preserve New York drinking water at its sources through lake and watershed conservation, including protection against pollution and invasive species.
State Senator Pam Helming, who represents Geneva and helped secure that funding, notes that “the Finger Lakes as a whole, and specifically Seneca Lake, have experienced significant amounts of harmful algal blooms and toxic blue-green algae in recent years. These contaminants threaten municipal water systems and homeowners that use Seneca Lake as their main source of water. This Seneca Lake Watershed Steward will combat this by bringing together the Town of Geneva, other communities, and stakeholders along Seneca Lake to address water quality challenges through a coordinated, collaborative effort. I am grateful that we were able to secure the critically important funding for this position in last year’s state budget, and I look forward to working with the incoming watershed manager. Working together as a community, we can safeguard our lakes and enhance them for generations to come.”
“We tired to get funding for two years and then Senator Helming, knowing that we needed a watershed steward for Seneca Lake, was able to get it and make this a reality,” says Geneva Town Supervisor Mark Venuti, a member of the SWIO executive board. “We had more than 30 people apply for the job. Ian was our first choice, and we’re looking forward to working with him and helping SWIO make a significant impact for the betterment of the lake and region.”
Smith, who has worked on water quality issues in West Virginia coal country, Maryland Mennonite communities and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, will coordinate among the SWIO, individual Finger Lakes municipal groups, area farmers and organizations like the Finger Lakes Land Trust and Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association. The key, he says, is “building bridges so people can figure out what everyone is doing. We have all these different groups heavily invested and doing good work, so now amplifying its impact through communication and coordination is the next step; that will ultimately get us to the watershed scale improvements we are looking for.”
Under memorandum of understanding, members of the SWIO are working toward the protection and improvement of Seneca Lake’s water and surrounding bodies and tributaries. (The Seneca Lake watershed includes all of Keuka Lake’s watershed.) The SWIO includes an appointed member from each municipality who participate in meetings and report plans and actions to their local government. Ex officio membership extends to regional planning board members, county Soil and Water Conservation District members, academic institutions including Hobart and William Smith Colleges and local water quality interest groups.
The SWIO meets next on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the County Auditorium of the Yates County Building, 417 Liberty Street, Penn Yan.
2019 Lakewatch Annual Report
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Geneva, NY 14456