Rachael DeWitt, SLA Invasive Species Monitoring Steward, checks a boat for invasive hitchhikers before it is launched into Skaneateles Lake. The stewardship program was launched by the SLA this summer with cooperation from the Skaneateles Town Board. The David “Lee” Hardy memorial Fund will help the SLA pay for the program and other education efforts.
Skaneateles The Skaneateles Lake Association recently received a $10,000 donation from the family of a deceased local man who loved the lake and would have wanted to help preserve its purity and character. The money, officially called the David “Lee” Hardy Memorial Fund, will be used for education and stewardship programs to help keep invasive species out of Skaneateles Lake.
“We’re very excited,” said Bob Werner, chair of the SLA lake monitoring committee. “So far, the money has gone to students from Skaneateles High School and the environmental club who have been working as our stewards [at boat ramps]. They’ve done a wonderful job.”
David “Lee” Hardy was a Skaneateles man who died in 2004 at age 24 after a four-wheeler accident. His family received thousands of dollars in donations from friends and community members to create a memorial fund in his name. Although the family knew they wanted the money to be used for something that was meaningful to Lee, “We had been trying to figure out what to do with it ever since,” said Nick Hardy, Lee’s brother.
There were two events that turned the Hardy family toward the SLA. Lee and Nick’s mother, Janice Hardy, saw a sign for the SLA and she immediately thought the lake and its future would be a great choice for the use of the fund. “Lee and his friends just loved the lake and they used the lake within an inch of its life,” she said.
Serendipitously, Nick, who works at the Skaneateles Marina, last summer went out onto the lake to assist a stranded boater. The boater turned out to be Werner, whose engine had died while he was out conducting his annual milfoil survey of the lake. Hardy and Werner got to talking about milfoil and the SLA, and Hardy had already gotten to know some of the SLA’s milfoil removal workers through his job at the marina, as well as SLA members Fran and Hamilton Fish.