Climate Leadership Summit Report via Zoom On November 14, 2020

Final Report

Note – Thanks to Kate Hill for adding to this report with her article in the Cazenovia Republican

The summit brought together a group of 52 community leaders to discuss the regional impacts of climate change and to develop ideas on how to mitigate and adapt to the harmful effects of the climate crisis at the local level.

The diverse group of attendees included public servants, farmers, educators, financial planners, industry experts, Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists, and a representative of the Oneida Indian Nation.

Organized by Phil Rose, Mary Bartlett, Nancy Paolozzi, Jack Stevens, Laurie Dudley, and Geoffrey Navias, the event began with an overview of the summit agenda and goals, and remarks from Brian Patterson of the Oneida Indian Nation Bear Clan.

The introduction was followed by small group discussions on the topics of plastics/recycling, trees, water, renewable energy, communication/advocacy, and agriculture.

Each action group featured a moderator, a support person and about eight additional members. Participants had the opportunity to relay their personal goals for the coming year before working together to brainstorm potential climate action projects.

Here are their reports.

Plastics/Recycling   – Kyle Reger& Nancy Paolozzi

Cazenovia’s Town Councilor Kyle Reger announced that the plastics/recycling group plans to work directly with local pizza shops to spread the message that used pizza boxes — even those with grease and food residue — belong in the recycling bin, not the trash.

According to Reger, an estimated 350,000 pounds of paper from pizza boxes are put into the landfill in Madison County each year.

“If it’s recycled within a two to six week period, that paper can come back in the form of a new box on your doorstep,” Reger said. “The average vehicle in the United States is 2,871 pounds, so in terms of weight that’s the equivalent of 122 cars going into the landfill in our county.”

The group also plans to place Madison County recycling posters in stores and other heavily trafficked areas to help inform residents about what items can and cannot be recycled.

Kristin: reduce materials that are being generated, plastic films need an outlet for where they can go – need to educate people about where the take back programs are. She has pre-made posters re. recycling of  plastic film products to get information out there.

Chary- get out information about re-purposing recyclables eg.use card board for keeping weeds down in garden

Emma- Educate about our environmental system of waste diversion- include schools and community on how to get waste to the right facilities and reduce plastics going into the landfills  Eg. In schools – have different receptaclesfor bottles, paper, trash etc.

Hannora – Educate students about why it is important to recycle, how to recycle and implement new recycling bins

Members of the Student Recycling Committee

Nancy –Education- how to reuse our throw aways. Use our consumer power to buy products that are made with plastics, like comforters that are filled with plastic from 50 plastic bottles. (The comforters are expensive, but last for about 400 years).

Plastic to oil technology is not there right now. On the table, but not there yet.

Use the posters , put in stores near products that can be recycled  and where to recycle them. And also put recycling search tool on town website

Trees – Steve Evens & Laurie Dudley

Dudley announced that one of her group’s goals is to complete the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park (SQHAP) 220 Trees Project by planting 220 saplings of varying species on the park’s grounds.

The initiative is the result of a partnership between SQHAP, UCAN, the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF), and SUNY ESF Landscape Architecture graduate students led by Professor Matthew Potteiger.

“We are using the Art Park as a jump off for other projects [throughout Cazenovia]. . .” Dudley said. “We want people to see our success so the community becomes more involved, so that they not only help us with these projects but other projects in the future.


Steve –Wants as many trees planted so Rose Hill has a forest in 20 years. Feels strongly that there is a theological aspect to climate change and churches should get involved. We need to catalog planting to keep track of success. After a few years the tree planting on his property should succeed on its own.

Group in general – we need a leadership group for planning what is next in the community. The community should have tree planting projects going forward. We need this to have more community involvement. Alexis felt it was important to pick the right species for the right places that are fast growing so that we have good survival and the community sees the benefits. A healthy forest is not an accident.  What we know today will not necessarily be right in 10 years because of climate change and our plans will need to adapt. 

Jason – We need communication with the community at large.  What is in it for me? Need to address that question to get the community involved. Tree program should be used for outreach and help people understand how and what to plant and the benefits from the trees.. We need to have a management plan after the planting.  There needs to be awareness that after planting there needs to be care of the trees. We need to nudge systems to go in the right direction. Rails and trails is a good place to teach and do a project in the future.  Move people to see what can be done.

Eric- For SQHAP the invasive speciesare a big issue and they are using DEC biologists to come up with a plan.  How do we manage forest canopy, sustainability and planting new trees to get a comprehensive plan for the park?

Susan- For the Cazenovia Village we need not only to plant new trees but maintenance is a big issue.  The DPW staff needs to work on the maintenance of the street trees including cutting down older trees that are unsafe. Trees planted in the village are restricted by the availability locally of tree species.

Laurie: We need to finish our current 220 tree project. 

Group Discussion: 

Laurie: We need to think and plan for a new project at the art park but come up with a more comprehensive plan for the future.

Jason: We should be thinking of high use trails along our water corridor and behind these properties for tree planting.  They are iconic for the community and will help build awareness and community support.

Eric: Investing time and energy in Stone Quarry Hill Art Park will be good because the plantings will be maintained.

Susan: My priority is the Cazvillage.  There are liability issues with unsafe trees and the community needs to understand why trees are removed. The project at Lakeland Park will involve planting more trees and the plans include more public use and a broader community use of the park.

Jason:  We could see projects that anchor Lakeland all the way to the Scout Lodge along the creek. We could attack chunks at a time and ultimately connect all the dots. This would be a lightly managed passive recreation area.  We need a successful first go and then we should have more success going forward.

Alex: The community projects will help educate the public to the benefits of planting trees.  Hopefully, it will encourage more private tree planting.  I can help educate the public as to how to plant, what to plant and the environmental benefits. There can be a curriculum for children.

Jason: There should be in the curriculum statewide.  It is hard to get a curriculum to be accepted. But we should make it easier since it is already written.

Eric: The school owns land at the Fenner site.  There is certainly opportunity for planting and forest management to be taught there.

Alexis: CPF needs inventories of their properties.  High School Students could use their volunteer hours that they need to graduate to do this. Trees that are planted in parks could have information on them for example: genus, species, what benefits, what they do.

Susan: Colgate takes their trees very seriously.  They are often marked and used for education.  The labels force people to see. 

Jason: We could put a label at the bottom of the tree and teach students to learn to read maps.

Steve: We need to create infrastructure building from the project at SQHAP and coordinate with CPF.  What steps do we take to get effective coordination? We need to replicate what we have achieved at the art park. 

Summary: We need to finish the 220 tree project at SQHAP and find another project there for 2022 if possible.  We have had great success with collaboration at the park and the ability to maintain what we have done. Hopefully, we can do more collaboration with CPF.  The success we have had at SQHAP is a great jump off for other projects especially the corridor from Lakeland park down the creek.  We need collaboration, education and a successful project to get the community involved.  

Water- Liz Moran & Jack Stevens


Stevens reported that his group’s long-term plans include the development of local runoff-related ordinances designed to help curb harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Cazenovia Lake.

The group also hopes to help bolster the Earth Day Chittenango Creek Clean Up — an annual event organized by Dr. Thad Yorks, professor and program director of the environmental biology and biology programs at Cazenovia College.

“If we could make that a wider effort and maybe market it to some fishermen, that would be a [great] short-term thing we could do,” Stevens said.

Some notable issues, great resources, and action items that were brought up:

  • Surface and groundwater issues with run-off and chemicals: Priority must be placed on a) capturing storm-water, and b) reduce use of agricultural and residential pesticides and fertilizers, to prevent it from running off into the streams & lakes.  One of the most serious results from run-off is the recurrence of blue-green algae, which is toxic to humans, showing up on our shores.  Coupled with the resources we have now, there is room for improvement and/or change in ordinance laws. “Community Next Steps” should be determined and completed.  
  • We need awareness around the importance of impervious pavements.
  • The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program in Cazenovia is a current initiative and was briefly discussed.  More info:  Are there grant/funding opportunities for creeks & lakeshores?  What will the “Community Next Steps” be?
  • Chittenango Creek Clean Up.  Bolster what Thad Yorks is already doing.  Eventually plan & recruit for each creek in the school district.  Market to Anglers for Earth Week.  Who else can we recruit to?
  • How should we be utilizing GIS mapping tools to better understand benefits & challenges?
  • Raise awareness to the damage of flushing prescriptions down the toilet
  •  Identify potential “Trees for Tributaries” sites.  Work with Laurie & Julie in the Tree Group.  Coordinate with possibly Town, Village, CPF to identify.  

Renewable Energy- Phil Hofmeyer&Dave Porter

What about a potential 600 kW town solar project; legislation to loosen up solar guidelines and codes? We are concerned regarding the agricultural impact of “mega” solar projects in rural areas we need an array installation “how-to” guide for homeowners. We will develop an educational virtual tour of the Fenner Renewable Energy Education (FREE) Center at the Fenner Wind Farm.


Possible Actions – what could we accomplish in the next year or so

  • Jimmy:  Keep working on Town solar project (600 kW +/-).  Continue to work on local legislation to loosen up solar guidelines/codes.  Jimmy is concerned about the proposed 1,500 acre solar array in Fenner and impact on agricultural lands.
  • Joanne:  Solar array guidelines need to be coordinated to enable landowners to install ground solar.
  • Keith:  Time element – there isn’t enough focus related to shifting time-of-day electric usage for consumers.  This could have a very big impact on usage of renewable energy sources, such as charging EVs at night.  Also interested in energy storage.
  • Judy – Main goal of Free Center is education.  Creating a video of a virtual tour will allow the center to continue their educational mission.
  • Kathy:  Two-pronged approach –education of consumers & education of industry and government.  This can be beneficial to our economy.
  • Dave:  Put together a guide on how a homeowner can go about installing a solar array.  Interested in continued support of sustainable activities for the Village of Caz.  UCAN website can be a way to post any deliverables that the group develops.

General Discussion

  • Phil:  The scale of solar projects has really changed recently.  Large systems are much more prevalent.  What is the impact on communities for large projects?  Previously wind projects were of great concern for communities – more recently large solar installations are getting more scrutiny in terms of use of agricultural lands.
  • What is the greatest obstacle locally to renewable energy?
  • Kathy:  Public education needs greater attention.

Communication/Advocacy – Lauren Lines & Mary Bartlett

The group aims to increase awareness of the UCAN website, improve the organization’s social media presence, and resume the monthly UCAN newsletter.

The action group also plans to advocate proposed legislation requiring climate change education especially in public schools.

A group member is currently working to collect data on the ways in which climate change is impacting the Cazenovia area.

Use environmental projects as a teaching moment linked to climate change through use of social media and other outlets. Advocate to include climate science education in public school system especially letting youth know what concrete actions can be taken to help mitigate climate change.  Advocate to collect local level data points and trends related to climate.



Agriculture – Roger Saltman& Phil Rose

The group’s overarching goal is to promote sustainable and economically feasible farming techniques.

How do we make sure that all this can be economically profitable for farmers to do these techniques and to become more sustainable.”

The group also hopes to have additional conversations on ways to educate farmers on the best practices for climate resiliency.

Van – Let’s promote the NOFA manual for testing soil – quantifiable carbon read. It’s a great ed. package. NY state education will do training for it. Video available. Distribute to local farmers. Going to farmers and making them aware.

Dave – piggy back off Van and Coop Ex. And Amish doing the right thing with soils – rotational pastures. Sustainable Ag. Limit solar from Ag. land. Minimum tillage with two farmers to limit runoff.

Matt. – Larger farmers want to be paid. Big picture – We need to balance positive farming techniques with confronting hard economic issues.

Eric – Our team has weekly newsletter. Have ears of lots of farmers can promote the video. Show farmers how to transition to organic. Colgate seniors – informational piece climate resiliency. Compile list of best practices. 


Final Speakers

The summit concluded with remarks from two guest speakers.

Kristin Williams, Deputy Chief of Staff for New York State Senator Rachel May, provided an overview of May’s climate-related bills and encouraged UCAN to advocate for locally important legislation by submitting letters/memos of support.

  • Add hard cider bottles to the list of returnable items
  • Fracking waste bill – passed renewable energy bill – allow everyone to incorporate renewable energy into their home
  • Climate sense educational bill – earth science, climate science incorporated into class – need advocacy not yet passed
  • Kick start bill – requiring the evaluation of communities that have been registered, but not evaluated,  Have to be evaluated in 5 yrs.
  • Measure climate related school closures-change of vernacular from snow day to climate issues.

Geovaira Hernandez, a lead coalition organizer for New York Renews which is a multi-sector statewide coalition that campaigns for ambitious climate policies grounded in equity and justice for communities and working people.

A version of the coalition’s first bill, the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), was passed as the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). According to Hernandez, NY Renews is now working on implementing the law and passing the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), a “Just Transition” bill paid for by a polluter penalty.

  • Geo- NY Renews- How to implement CLCPA-scoping plan – taxing big polluters $7-10 bill back to the state to address climate change issues

To learn more about the coalition, visit

Concluding Remarks

 “We live in a beautiful part of the world; it’s absolutely exquisite,” concluded Rose. “Let’s preserve it, let’s [continue to] build our community and share our influence, our intelligence and our power to . . . improve it even more.”

To learn more about UCAN and get involved, visit or the United Climate Action Network Facebook page.

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