Conesus, Honeoye lakes would benefit from Cuomo's plan to battle algae

Don Lucas ice fishes with his son on New Year's Day. Governor Cuomo wants to make Conesus and Honeyoye "priority lakes" for research on harmful algae blooms.

Conesus and Honeoye lakes would benefit from a proposed plan to combat toxic algae blooms. Governor Cuomo wants to name the two as "priority lakes", making them eligible for a share of $65 million dollars.

The blooms appear in the hottest part of the summer, but the plan, which will be rolled out in the State of the State address, would also benefit those ice fishing on the very same lakes today.

"It's very important. I live close by and fish this lake very often," said Wayne Gaddy.

It is the first time in years the ice has been thick enough for Leo Vogt to celebrate New Year's Day with his favorite hobby.

"We go every minute we can whenever there's down time and there's safe ice," he said.

Yet on this frigid Monday, Vogt and others on the lake are concerned about what the summer months might bring.

"The quality of the lake is very important. When you are a fisherman, you want to see the fish," said Don Lucas. He shares the hobby and his name with his father - who was also out on the ice. "If the quality of the lake is not there you lose the recreation," he said.

Twice in the last year algae blooms that can carry liver toxins forced warnings for swimmers and their pets.

"If you're coming out with the boat or the dog or something you don't want to get into it," the elder Lucas said. "We pay close attention to where the sightings are."

The blooms temporarily closed more than 100 beaches across the state last summer. Governor Cuomo proposed spending $500,000 each at Conesus, Honeoye and ten other New York lakes. The first step is to identify what causes the blooms. The second step is to deploy a "rapid response" team that might recognize the conditions as they form and stop the algae before it starts. The research would then be shared with other lakes in regions all around the state.

"I think it's awesome," said Vogt. "They're really nice lakes, and that would help a lot because I know it's a big problem."

Research already underway on Honeoye Lake may provide rapid response teams of the future with a head start.

"The lake doesn't stay frozen nearly as long as it used to, so the water temperature starts to warm sooner," explained researcher Nelson Hairston back in August.

That might seem ironic on a frigid January day, yet some sportsmen note this year as an exception from the mild winters of the recent past.

"We try to get out whenever there's ice," said Lucas. "But in the past couple of years its been tough."

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