GENEVA — Planting trees is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve water quality, according to the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.

In fact, SLPWA is urging property owners near Seneca Lake and its tributaries to plant trees.

“Compared to the cost of building drains for storm water or repairing flood damage with concrete and steel, trees are a bargain,” said Rich Weakland, SLPWA president.

The organization issued a statement Thursday on the ways trees help protect Seneca Lake. They include:

INTERCEPTION: During rainstorms, tree canopies are the first line of defense. Leaves and branches intercept the falling rain, dispersing it at a slower rate over a large area, encouraging more absorption by the ground.

FILTRATION: Trees help to filter road salt, fertilizers and pesticides out of water. Some chemicals are taken up by the trees themselves while others are taken up by fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms that exist in forest soils.

INFILTRATION: Decomposing materials from trees and plants collect on the ground and form an absorptive layer that acts as a sponge that soaks up water. A tree’s root system helps to break up compacted soil, opening up spaces for water to soak into the soil.

STABILIZATION: Tree roots help give the soil structure, preventing erosion. Organic matter from leaves and microorganisms living in the soil help hold soil together, acting like glue to bind soil particles together.

HABITAT: Trees growing along the lake’s shoreline or along the banks of a stream or creek support aquatic life. Leaves and seeds provide food for insects that, in turn, are eaten by fish and other large animals. Roots, falling logs and branches provide food, shade and hiding places in the water. Trees also shade the water, keeping it cool for species that are sensitive to temperature and keeping down the growth of algae and weeds that can clog waterways.

Weakland said the Ontario, Seneca and Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation Districts will sell seedlings this spring. People can pre-order by Friday, March 8, and receive the trees for planting in May. Those district offices can be contacted for details.

For more information, call (585)396-1450 in Ontario County, (315)568-4366 ext. 4 in Seneca County, and (607)535-0878 in Schuyler County.

SLPWA’s membership cycle begins June 1 and ends May 3, 2020. Weakland says anyone interested in the protection and preservation of Seneca Lake can help by joining the organization. People can join by visiting senecalake.org. The cost is $10 for students, $30 for households and $50 for businesses.

Checks can also be mailed to SLPWA, P.O. Box 247, Geneva, 14456.

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