This November, SUNY Oneonta and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition partnered to plant 2,000 trees on the University’s land at Thayer Farm on the west side of the lake to combat harmful algae bloom growth. Funding for the purchase, planting and maintenance of the seedlings was provided through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant funding managed by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition.
As the newly planted trees mature, they will retain key nutrients - mainly phosphorus and nitrogen – and prevent them from becoming available in the lake for problematic aquatic plants, algae and cyanobacteria. The trees were strategically planted on the Thayer Farm, property gifted to the University for academic and research purposes, due to its high value location as the home to several streams that flow into Otsego Lake.
“Reforesting is an established lake management best practice,” says Dr. Bill Harman, director of the Biological Field Station, home base for SUNY Oneonta’s lake management graduate student program. “Cyanobacteria, algae and aquatic plants need three things to grow – light, temperature, and nutrients. Since controlling the light and temperature of our 4,000 acre lake would be a herculean task, we can tackle the third factor – retaining nutrients.”
While the full benefits of the tree plantings will take years to track, a team of SUNY Oneonta faculty and student scientists routinely monitor water samples from the streams and lake – and expect to see a decrease in phosphorus and nitrogen levels.
“As land stewards within the 22 soil and water conservation districts and 7,500 square miles that make up the Upper Susquehanna River Watershed, it is necessary to collaborate with community partners, like SUNY Oneonta, to improve water quality using forest and tree cover,” says Lydia Brinkley, Riparian Buffer Program Coordinator, Upper Susquehanna Coalition. “These trees are providing many benefits to our lakes and rivers from shade to cool the stream water, to corridors for wildlife, and by adding diverse habitats for terrestrial and aquatic organisms. We look forward to working with more community landowners of any size to reforest areas like this one.” Anyone interested in pursuing tree planting can contact the Upper Susquehanna Coalition Buffer Program at firstname.lastname@example.org