The Schroon Lake Association was founded more than a century ago in response to a threat to the lake’s very existence. The group is now led by Mark Granger, its new president.
The Schroon Lake Association was founded more than a century ago in response to a threat to the lake’s very existence.
“The threats are very different, but we’re still committed to ensuring the health of the lake and its surrounding communities,” Mark Granger, SLA president, said. “We face serious challenges, but are confident we can succeed with the support of local residents and governments.”
Granger, who was elected last August, officially took the reins of the SLA Jan. 1.
Schroon Lake is a 4,126 acre lake surrounded by two counties — Essex and Warren — and three towns — Schroon, Horicon and Chester. Schroon Lake and its watershed area are part of the Hudson River drainage system.
In 1911 New York State was considering a plan to dam the Schroon River in order to create a huge reservoir for downstate cities. That reservoir would have destroyed Schroon Lake and its surrounding communities. Today’s hamlet of Schroon Lake would have been flooded.
“The Schroon Lake Association was founded to fight that plan,” Granger said. “It succeeded — instead the state created the Great Sacandaga Lake (reservoir) — and ever since the organization has been dedicated to improving the environment and lives of the people in the area.”
Granger is a long-time SLA member. He started visiting Schroon Lake as a youngster in 1952, eventually buying a camp on Paradox Lake in 1985. An attorney, he recently retired from a Boston law firm and has taken up full-time residence in the community.
“I have a great love for the community and the area,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the prettiest place in the world. Moving here was a dream come true.”
The work of the association is much easier, Granger said, because of the support it receives.
“We have a very dedicated board of directors and we have wonderful partnerships with local officials,” he said. “Roger Friedman, who is on the (Schroon) town board is a vice president. Mike Marnell (Schroon supervisor) is just a phone call away. The town and community are extremely supportive of the organization.”
The SLA shares similar relations with the towns of Horicon and Chester, Granger noted.
“We work together very well,” he said. “We share our boat launch steward, milfoil harvesting and water quality testing programs with each town.”
An example of that cooperation is a $300,000 grant awarded to the town of Chester from the state in December. That grant will allow the SLA and the three towns to implement the association’s lake management plan, which was adopted in 2010.
“This plan is a shining example of local government and local conservation groups working together to protect the future of Schroon Lake,” Granger said. “Now the state has recognized the quality of that joint effort to support its implementation with a grant to the town of Chester and the lake management steering committee.”
The management plan calls for stormwater control projects, roadside erosion control, wastewater education, invasive species eradication efforts, education programs and more.
The adoption of the plan by all parties involved is a great success, Granger said.
“It was done in absolute harmony,” the SLA president said. “Everyone left their political issues outside the meeting room door. People just wanted to work together for the benefit of the lake.”
With the help of Steve LaMere, a certified lake manager, the Schroon Lake Association has established its goals for 2013. It plans to:
— support programs to prevent introduction of invasive species;
— continue work to eradicate the lake’s three existing invasive species, Eurasian milfoil, curly-head pond leaf and purple loosestrife;
— monitor lake quality;
— study the affects of run off into the lake;
— search for contamination hot spots;
— study zooplankton and aquatic plants, which will lead to determining the health of the fish populations; and
— support boating safety classes and other educational efforts.
The SLA will also continue to sponsor its annual arts and crafts fair as well as support other community events and celebrations, Granger said.
“More than 100 years ago we almost lost the whole thing (Schroon Lake),” he said. “In some ways the threats are even more dangerous today because they’re hidden. We can’t ignore the threats to the lake.
“Our biggest challenge is to keep people informed and involved,” Granger continued. “When people work and vacation in an area there are a lot of distractions. One of our jobs is to make people aware just how important this is. We want to educate people and hope they’ll join us.”
Granger replaces Helen Wildman as Schroon Lake Association president.
“What a wonderful job Helen did,” Granger remarked. “She’s left very big shoes to fill. I’m hopeful I can do the job she did.”
The Schroon Lake Association board of directors meets the first Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. in the Schroon town hall on Leland Avenue. Those meetings are open to the public and people are encouraged to attend, Granger said.
For more information on the SLA go online at www.schroonlakeassociation.com