Skaneateles Lake watershed preservation topic of workshops

A handful of residents came out Wednesday, Aug. 13, to the Niles Town Hall for an evening public workshop on conservation options in the Skaneateles Lake watershed.

The presentation was the first of two public workshops to discuss conservation options for landowners and communities in and around Skaneateles Lake and pertained primarily to those living on the south end of the lake. The second workshop was held Tuesday, Aug. 19 at the Skaneateles Public Library.

To present conservation ideas and open discussion with the community on the south end of the lake, Mark Whitmore, project manager for the Finger Lakes Land Trust conservation planning efforts, and Rocci Aguirre, land protection specialist with FLLT, spoke to the group.

"The take home from this is to get input from the communities in our service area," he said.

Aguirre said, as a land protection specialist, he is responsible for 12 counties in his region, which amounts to approximately 6,000 miles and roughly 10,000 acres of protected land.

"The program that we have is one that addresses an opportunity," Whitmore said. "(The project is) to help people become aware of what you have before it's gone."

Whitmore's project consists of cataloging wildlife and plant life in the area so the community is aware of what they have in terms of natural resources, plants and animals. Due to the enormity of the project, he will not be able to individually catalog each species, and is instead going to be taking information from other people and places, such as the City of Syracuse and fellow scientists, he said.

"When I look at this area I look at the forest," Whitmore said, noting the recreational opportunities for hunting and fishing. "One of the great secrets of this area is Bear Swamp. ... Bear Swamp is it for orchids."

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