The Sherwood Inn Tavern is one of my favorite places in town; on countless occasions I have passed through its doors for a delicious meal, cozy environment and scenic views of the lake. Yet, before last month, I had never noticed the second of two plaques affixed to its rear entrance, and the words inscribed into it struck me with their relevance.
Delivered by John D. Barrow at an 1876 Centennial Address, the plaque's quote says:
"Let us not forget our local trust and duties...let us especially remember the beauty of our lake and its shores...may we all do something...so that after another one hundred years, our successors shall meet together and rejoice and thank us for what we have done."
I assume it was this sense of stewardship that led past generations of Skaneateles residents to exercise self-restraint in order to preserve, for themselves and for future generations, both the pristine water of Skaneateles Lake and our community's character. Today, 134 years after Mr. Barrow delivered his address, the duty to protect our lake and its shores lies with us, and there may have existed no greater threat to them than the one they now face: Hydrofracking.
Significant quantities of natural gas lie beneath our watershed's soil, and the extraction process known as "Hydrofracking" could start here within the next year if we don't stop it. As many Skaneateles residents already know, hydrofracking has devastated communities in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and other states by contaminating soil, water, and air with carcinogenic toxins. It has also disturbed their landscapes and social dynamics, and, after enriching a few, left a net negative economic impact.
I am not an expert on hydrofracking. In fact, until attending an information session of the group "You Can't Drink Money" at my church in May, lawn signs led me to suspect that "Frack" may be an unpopular local politician. What I do know is that I treasure this place and accept my duty to pass it on in good condition to future Skaneateles residents. There is no price tag for being able to drink straight from the lake as we swim in it, for being able to confidently breathe our air deeply into our lungs, or for watching the sun set over a pastoral landscape. So I have to ask myself- do enough people here feel the same way?