“Making Syracuse Lake Clean, Healthy, Safe and Beautiful” was the topic presented by Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes and Streams and assistant professor of environmental science at Grace College. Bosch’s presentation was made during the annual Syracuse Lake Association Annual Breakfast Meeting held Saturday.
Megan McClellan, new executive director of Syracuse-Wawasee Trails Committee, was introduced and Bob Trame, Syracuse-Wawasee Trail Committee presented a brief report on the trails.
Bosch hit such topics as the food chain of the lake, education efforts, research and collaboration with other entities. He also presented information on the attempts to control the invasive plant, starry stone wart, found in 48.22 total surface acres of Syracuse Lake.
Specific research related to Syracuse Lake is available on the center’s website lakes.grace.edu, Bosch noted. He did elaborate on Syracuse Lake’s economic impact found in the Lake Economic Impact Study: Property Value Report 2013.
While research found fishing is a $28 million industry for the county, another study focused on another segment who “only cares how the lakes are tied to the economics of the lakes.”
The Impact Study found, of the county’s $60 million property tax revenues received, $15 million comes from single family lake homes, with property values of homes on lakes 25 acres or larger, totaling over $3 billion.
Homes along Syracuse Lake generate $1.3 million of the county tax revenue and property values, within 500 feet of the shore line, total $190 million. Bosch pointed out 72 percent of the lake’s $190 million property values are secondary homes. “A large portion are coming to the lakes because of the quality,” Bosch stated adding if the lake quality declines, those homeowners will say “see you later.”
It was noted the study is showing the income from lake properties is stacking up behind the orthopedic and agriculture industries as far as economic impact.
Bosch briefly presented information on a lake levels study. During his analysis he noted while springs feed the lake, in times of drought, springs turn into drains. It was stressed a majority of factors affecting water levels there is no control over.
During the drought of 2012, Bosch noted a school bus full of water was leaving the lake every minute due to evaporation. While the study is continuing, once completed there may be some recommendation regarding the Syracuse Dam operations.
Regarding the lake’s food chain — nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, planktivorous fish and piscovorous fish — Bosch noted if the lower two levels of this chain is overloaded or becomes unbalanced the chain will snap affecting the top three areas of the food chain.
Educational programs noted were: Aquariums in 24 county schools and at the Syracuse Community Center, which is sponsored by SLA; an annual art contest with over 500 entries; field day with over 800 students; and the annual Lakefest where over 5,000 people attended learning the importance of clean lakes while having fun. Opportunities to volunteer and financial support the center were noted.
As for the invasive starry stonewort plant, Bosch stated the Department of Natural Resources is treating 17 acres and will be applying a treatment in the next week or so. It was also noted the DNR is the gatekeeper of treatment of weeds to keep a balance between recreation and the fish habitat.
Trame noted it has taken the trail committee 10 years to get where it is at presently and since last year work on trails have snowballed rapidly.
He announced the Northshore Drive trail, at the request of property owners, has been delayed until after labor day. Additionally SLA has provided donations for restroom facilities along the trail.
He noted there is now 7.5 miles of trails with more growth coming. He asked for volunteers to help maintain the trails — keeping the trails clear of debris.
McClellan, a former Peace Corp volunteer in Africa, noted she was anxious to meet everyone and can be contacted at [email protected]
During regular SLA business, fireworks coordinator Nate Shoemaker reported donations for this year’s event allowed a local disc jockey to set up at the beach leading up to the fireworks playing music for the crowd which has been requested for next year. This year’s fireworks, the first ever to include music, was successful and music will coincide with the fireworks for the next two years. He also noted revenue from commercials airing before and after the fireworks was received.
SLA President Becky Fox noted a profit was made on this year’s lake director due to advertisers, and a sign has been placed at the town pier announcing canoeing on the lakes every Tuesday. The first event had 40 kids participating. “A lot of kids can’t get on the lake as they don’t have a boat,” stated Fox, noting this program provides that opportunity.