Three years ago, the Village of Cooperstown Department of Public Transportation again dumped snow from village streets on the lakeside parking lot at Fairy Spring Park. This snow contained hydraulic oil, motor oil, gasoline and ice-melting chemicals from Cooperstown’s streets, none of which should be anywhere near the lake.
The ongoing conflict between the New York Department of Transportation and the Village of Cooperstown over the spraying of chemical weed killer along state Route 80/West Lake Road continues without involvement or even comment from the Biological Field Station, the Water Quality Coordinating Committee or the Soil and Water Conservation Office. Where are they?
Ten years ago, an effort was made to establish a Lake Keeper Position for Otsego Lake, similar to the programs on Lake George and the Hudson River. A one-time grant of $25,000 was secured, along with a boat and four-cycle motor. This initiative had the support of Win McIntyre, technical adviser to the Watershed Supervisory Committee, and Henry F. Cooper, Jr., who spoke in support of the initiative at the Village Board meeting. The Otsego County Conservation Association representative, Teresa Winchester, spoke against the proposal, and the Biological Field Station failed to support it as well, with Matt Albright saying: “We don’t think it is necessary.”
To this day, there is no office, department or even a sign at the Biological Field Station that says “Lake Protection.” They never challenged the use of pesticides on the golf course or polluting two-cycle engines on the lake. What do they do?
Being the headwaters lake and community of the Susquehanna River is more than a location. It is a position, and with that comes a downstream responsibility to monitor and protect the water that starts here.
We’ve had enough pontificating and “sharing of information.” It is clearly time to step up and protect Otsego Lake and the Upper Susquehanna River. As the writer Edward Abbey said, “it is not enough to understand the natural world. The point is to defend and protect it.”
MICHAEL WHALING is a Sharon Springs resident.