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Lake George Conservation Groups Plan Merger

Lake George, NY
Lucas Willard
Lake George

Two conservation organizations dedicated to protecting the waters of Lake George are planning a merger.

The Lake George Association was initially formed in 1885. The FUND For Lake George spun off from the LGA in 1980. Now, the groups are reuniting to ensure the Queen of American Lakes remains resilient in the years ahead.

The organizations’ leaders met virtually on Thursday to announce the merger.

Eric Siy is Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George…

“This is history in the making and its future in the making and we’re doing it together.”

FUND For Lake George Board Chair Jeff Killeen said the leaders of both organizations feel the need to unite to face the growing threats to the lake: aquatic invasive species, stormwater runoff, aging septic systems, and road salt.

“But the two big ones that really are, candidly, in the existential category that really motivated us to unite was Harmful Algal Blooms – which, we finally had one on Lake George, and we’re working together on that, we were working together in November – and this terrestrial invasive, the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid,” said Killeen.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation announced both the presence of Harmful Algal Bloom and the tiny, white insect that can decimate native Hemlock forests in Lake George last fall.

With threats to the lake and economy of the region being further exasperated by climate change,  LGA Board President Peter Menzies says the lake needs a unified protector.

“The chemistry between this team is very real and I’m so encouraged by our working relationships that we’ve forged already. We’re ready to hit the ground running,” said Menzies.

A campaign will begin immediately to ask LGA members to approve the merger. Menzies hopes to have the full merger in place by May 1st, but says the integration has already begun.

The organizations it’s not because of finances. Though Walt Lender, Executive Director of the LGA, says there was some worry during the onsent of the pandemic.

“A year ago, we were very concerned about that with the pandemic just kicking in and who knows what the economy was going to do, but we found that our supporters are steadfast for both the FUND and the LGA. They come through for us this year. Even though we couldn’t do big fundraising events and things like that, everyone stepped up and did everything they could do to support us and support the lake,” said Lender.

The new organization will remain focused on Lake George, though efforts of the FUND and the LGA to study and advocate for the health of the lake have been regarded across New York State. Again, Eric Siy…

“The idea here, the aim here is to make Lake George a model for how you engage diverse interests, equip and empower them with scientific understanding of the problems, and then work together to solve those problems. So we have become a destination for other places. We are not intending to go beyond Lake George, but we are intending to share the story, the strategy, the recipe for Lake George protection with anyone and everyone that wants to learn,” said Siy.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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