Little York Lake Preservation Society outlines upkeep plan

(Photo Source: Little York Lake NY Neighborhood Facebook page).

Little York Lake’s main preservation group presented a plan at a recent Cortland County Agriculture, Planning and Environmental Committee meeting to continue cleaning up the kettle lake and holding off invasive species.

The plan for the upcoming year has a $2,500 shortfall between the Little York Lake Preservation Society’s (LYLPS) revenues and expenses. Don Fisher, the group’s treasurer, noted during the plan’s presentation that the preservation society would be looking to secure the $2,500 in funds from the county.

Legislators at the meeting voted unanimously to direct county administrator Rob Corpora to figure out a proposal to award the group with funding. Corpora will bring the proposal forward at Legislature committee meetings next month.

The LYLPS plan focuses on clearing the lake of invasive species, primarily the pervasive variable leaf milfoil (vlm), pondweed, and starry stonewort. These “weeds,” Fisher said, have in previous years “taken over the lake and choked it.”

“The boat launch was completely invaded by weeds,” Fisher said of an incident with the invasive species a few years ago. “It prompted us to take a look at the management plan developed in the 1990s by Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). We Identified key things we needed to do to get the lake back to a usable state.”

Fisher referred to the lake as a crown jewel of Cortland County. He noted the LYLPS has been working these last four years to put together a plan that includes invasive species control, a rapid response program to flooding, education for local residents on lake upkeep, and other monitoring tactics that help the lake.

Below is a map of the treatments around the lake:

(Photo Source: Cortland County).

Treatments, which include using a mechanical harvester, will start in the summer, Fisher said. Vlm treatment will cost $7,700, while pondweed and starry stonewort treatments will cost $8,000 respectively. The LYLPS has raised $16,250 from nearby resident donations. The group has also secured $5,500 in funding from the SWCD. 

“We tried herbicide treatments and felt they were not effective or cost effective,” Fisher said. “Add in environmental concerns and it is just not worth it. Our focus is to restore the lake so it can be used by the entire community for recreation and for everyone’s general enjoyment.”

LYLPS successfully established a special taxing district for the residents in the town of Homer and Preble living around the lake. The district was approved by voters in February and will start collecting taxes in 2023.

The proposed district was dubbed as the “Little York Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District” and would tax at least 114 private residents in a designated area surrounding the lake.

“As we transition into the new tax district, we should ask for the county to create a separate line item for funding treatment through the SWCD budget,” Fisher said.

Fisher was clear in requesting funding from the county.

“The residents are putting their money in, and we are looking to the county to also put some money in on an ongoing basis so we can keep the lake in great shape,” he said, noting that the group expects the special taxing district to generate anywhere from $17,000 to $18,000 in revenue next year.

Legislator Christopher Newell (R-LD-11) spoke in support of the plan presented by LYLPS.

“It has already made a noticeable improvement,” he said. “At the end of the day, you are going in the right direction.”

As has been discussed at prior meetings, several legislators brought up the possibility of collecting fees for people using the lake’s boat launch. Legislative Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD-2) asked committee members if that is something that should be pursued.

Harbin suggested seeking a cost-benefit analysis for the measure, which would ultimately funnel those fees back to a fund to pay “the county’s share” for Little York Lake preservation. 

“Maybe there is enough revenue generated to where it is worth it,” Harbin said.