2023 Climate Summit Report From Breakout Sessions

UCAN Leadership Climate Summit 

Report from Breakout Sessions

March 11, 2023

Cazenovia, New York

Following several presentations at the 2023 Climate Summit, the audience participated in three breakout sessions. The groups identified issues within each topic and generated a list of potential goals and recommendations to address them. A summary of the three groups is presented below.

  1. Natural Resources – Trees Land and Water

Attendees: Anne Saltman (recorder,) Roger Saltman (discussion lead,) Emmet Owens, Dave Tyler, Robert Malmsheimer, Meseret Stevens, Wendy Everand, Chary Griffin, Mary Bartlett, Van Bartlett, Mat Webber, Maryellen Sheehan, and Julie Poplaski

  • ●      Issue: The northern migration of invasive species

Climate change is contributing to the northern spread of invasive species and hemlock trees are now at risk from the anticipated infestation of Hemlock Wooly Adelgids (HWA). Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid is an aphid-like insect that attacks North American hemlocks. HWA are very small (1.5 mm) and often difficult to see, but they can easily be identified by the white woolly masses they form on the underside of branches at the base of the needles.

Goals: Monitor and slow the northern migration of Hemlock Wooly Adelgids in the following ways:

  • Organize a citizen monitoring program to watch for and report on new infestations.
  • Research chemical treatment options that might be used to protect priority trees; systemic injection will require a certified applicator.
  • Connect with other local organizations that have experience in controlling invasive species and educational initiatives such as Trout Unlimited, Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF), Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM,) Skaneateles Lake Association, Upstate Institute, and the DEC.
  • Research relevant grant opportunities.
  • ●      Issue: Erosion and sediment loading to Cazenovia Lake and its tributaries

Rain and wind from strong storm events cause soil and nutrients to flow from the land surface into local lakes and streams. Elevated levels of nutrients (especially phosphorus and nitrogen) and sediment contributes to the growth of aquatic plants and algae (including cyanobacteria.)

Goals:  Control erosion and sediment loading to Cazenovia Lake and its tributaries

  • Identify a landowner with shoreline access to the lake or a tributary and submit an application for the DEC “Buffer in a Bag” program that provides free trees and bushes for shoreline stabilization. Apply for a free bag of 25 tree and shrub seedlings that are available on a first come basis. To qualify, landowners must have property with at least 50 feet bordering a stream, river, or lake, and provide photos or a map of the planting location. 

The Water Task Force offered to locate a landowner along on Chittenango Creek and will submit an application with photos, map, and narrative to the DEC. If we are successful with the grant request, members of the Tree Task Force offered to help with the planting and maintenance.

  • School Environmental Club – Students in the high school environmental club are developing plans for composting, improved recycling, and a vegetable garden. 

Goal: Provide guidance and grant writing support.

  • DEC Young Forest Initiative Program – The DEC is clearing trees in Erieville and is planting native grasses in support of planned succession. 

Goal: Explore opportunities to provide assistance.

  • Electricity/Renewable Energy/Wind/Solar Breakout Group

Attendees: Jimmy Golub (discussion lead), Laurie Feine-Dudley (recorder) Karol Toole, Amanda Mazzoni, Susan Smith, Steve Evans, Phil Rose, Loral Wilson, Geoffrey Navias

The group discussed ways to make new construction more energy efficient by adopting the new stretch codes (alternative to standard building codes that require more stringent R values, wiring for solar and electrical panels with more amps for EV cars for example) from NY state.  Amanda suggested we contact Josh Stack at Northeast Green Building Consulting, LLC. for information and guidance. Also,  the new NY state codes may not allow any fossil fuels appliances for new construction.  Incentives may be needed for landlords to invest in energy efficiency since they will not directly benefit. There will be additional costs to build to the stretch code and comply with other mandated changes. There will need to be programs or tax incentives to ensure builders and landlords comply and feel fairly treated.

The NYS electrical grid needs upgrading to handle new electrical demands. Electric companies are responsible for any and all upgrades according to Amanda.

Geothermal District Loops is a new program in NY State to encourage new closely spaced developments to have shared geothermal installed at construction time. NY state is in the process of changing regulations so that utility companies can install and own these geothermal loops (an incentive to the utilities to change from fossil fuels). It is a program that would be environmentally friendly and hopefully cost saving for all participants.

Cazenovia Highway Garage Solar project.  The DEC will be testing the site and there is one more hurdle to be cleared. The solar project is expected to cover electrical needs for the town and up to 200 local families. We would like to stay up to date on this and help out to get this done as soon as possible. 

Fenner Solar and Wind Potential.  Fenner is getting many requests for solar and wind expansion. The Fenner town board would like more say about the location and size of the proposed projects.  Karol expressed concern about the town board and she and other farmers need to take advantage of solar or wind leasing to keep their farms financially viable.  Agrivoltaics could help in the future but is not currently a solution.   Geoffrey expressed concern about misinformation coming from national highly funded anti renewable energy groups like “Citizens for Responsible Solar”, who are disguising themselves as grass roots local movements and fueling campaigns in rural areas with misinformation about solar energy.  There is a good article about this February 18 by NPR.

Goals and Recommendations:

  • Help the Town Board of Cazenovia find out more information about the stretch code and how to implement it. 
  • Start a discussion with the Town Board about the Geothermal District Loops for new clustered housing and/or apartments.  Find out if the newest construction on Rt. 20 can be part of the program and if they have any interest.
  • Stay informed about the new bus/highway garage and the solar farm that is behind our current garage.
  • Climate Adaptation/Building Codes/Heating

Attendees: Kristi Andersen, Monica Palmer, Joanne Race, Barry Carr, Helen Beale, Chris DiFulvio, Lauren Lines, Kelli Johnson, Nancy Paolozzi

Upgrading homes and schools to be more energy efficient and revising building codes accordingly. 

The financial burden on owners renovating older homes would be a huge investment, so new codes should apply to newly constructed houses with energy efficient standards in all new homes. Building codes should be state wide so that communities are on equal footing in terms of attracting industry and residents.

Cazenovia Central school buildings:

The district has upgraded to LED lights and has considered solar panels, but the roof is not strong enough to support the panels. The district has switched to buying their energy from renewable energy sources.  In the near future they will undergo an energy performance evaluation.


  • Graph energy consumption during the school year. Instead of having arbitrary school vacations (e.g., “winter break”), allow schools to be closed on days where energy consumption is highest. Education of public would be needed.

For green energy utilities, such as wind and solar, areas for development of new solar or wind farms should be mapped out in advance of considering any large installations. 

The mapping programs used now by Cazenovia Preservation Foundation and the Town of Cazenovia allow for pro-active identification of areas that would be appropriate for solar and wind farms. 

Towns can plan where to place new housing balancing new development while protecting our land? Where to accommodate/provide affordable housing units?  Should building codes be changed to reduce lot size to increase affordability? 

Reason – CNY has been identified one of the best places to live given the effects of climate change.

Goals and recommendations:

  • Energy efficient standards should be required for all new homes.
  • School closings should perhaps be based on periods of highest energy utilization which would be determined by energy consumption data.
  • Areas for large-scale solar and wind installations should be pro-actively recommended, based on agreed-upon standards for protecting prime farmland, view sheds, historic sites, location of transmission lines, and so forth. 
  • Areas should be preemptively mapped out as possible sites for affordable housing, both single-family houses and multi-unit housing. 

UCAN Climate Leadership Summit

Overall Goals

Maintain momentum! Consolidate the UCAN Task Forces into three groups that are based on the breakout groups at the Summit. 

Recruitment – Find new members and maintain momentum with program implementation.

%d bloggers like this: