Department of Environmental Conservation

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The Beginning of Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program

CSLAP was initiated in 1985 as a cooperative program between the DEC and the NYS Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA). The program was adapted from successful volunteer monitoring programs in Vermont, Maine, Minnesota and Illinois.

CSLAP has three objectives:

  • collect high quality lake data
  • identify lake problems and changes in water quality
  • educate the public about lake conservation

The pilot program was initiated

A peaceful lake scene
The program was initiated in 1985 by DEC and
the New York State Federation of Lake
Associations (NYSFOLA) to collect lake data,
identify problems, and educate the public.

The pilot program was funded with a small grant in 1985. NYSFOLA helped to secure the grant that purchased sampling equipment, sample analysis, and the hiring of a DEC CSLAP Program Coordinator. The DEC CSLAP Program Coordinator and NYSFOLA worked together to identify an interested group of lake associations and volunteers for the program.

Twenty-five lakes kicked off the pilot CSLAP program. The first 25 lakes included public and private lakes, lakes represented by lake associations, and lakes within fish and game clubs and park districts. The lakes ranged in size from small ponds to large lakes and were located throughout New York.

Program participation was available to all NYSFOLA lake associations. The pilot program established the volunteer training, sample collection, processing, and reporting that continues today.

After the initial grant funds were expended, DEC and DOH established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that covered the cost of analytical services, equipment, supplies, shipping, and training (mostly associated with travel).


In 1988, the state Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), the legislation that established DEC and authorizes most of the programs and activities of DEC, was amended to authorize CSLAP.

The ECL 17-0305 legislation provided permanence to the program, and would ensure that the program continued during slim budget periods or in the face of reduced funding for lake monitoring.

Partnerships continue to grow

The program is thriving. To date over 20,000 samples have been collected from more than 240 lakes sampled by more than 1500 CSLAP volunteers.

CSLAP is one of the longest running, continuous programs in the nation

The CSLAP program builds relationships. Through CSLAP many counties are more engaged with their local associations. CSLAP offers an opportunity for academic and private research institutions to work with lake associations and offers opportunities for state agencies to partner.