Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson: A Proven Leader & Trusted Partner in Protecting Hometown Lake

 The following profile was prepared by The FUND for Lake George prior to its 2021 merger with the LGA.

August 2020

As a Lake George native and business owner, a professional engineer and land surveyor with a master’s in environmental sciences, and a two-time town supervisor in his much-loved hometown, Dennis Dickinson has always cared deeply about Lake protection.

Still, when The FUND for Lake George Executive Director Eric Siy asked to meet with him for the first time back in 2012, Supervisor Dickinson admits to being a little wary. He’d had some not-so-great experiences working with environmental advocacy groups over the years and he wondered what criticism Eric was about to hit him with.

Instead, that meeting was the start of a nearly decade-long partnership between the Town and The FUND that has seen Supervisor Dickinson take a leadership role in every major Lake protection initiative of the time, from invasive species to road salt reduction to combatting the infiltration of excess nutrients from aging and failing septic systems and preventing harmful algal blooms.

“The two of us realized that we were brothers in arms. What he was interested in, I was interested in,” the Supervisor says of that first meeting. “I was all ears, and when he told me what he wanted to do, I embraced it. I thought they were really on to something.

Town of Lake George Supervisor, Dennis Dickinson

The meeting was one of the first steps in the formation of The S.A.V.E. (Stop Aquatic inVasives from Entering) Lake George Partnership, the coalition of municipal leaders, researchers and conservation groups that persuaded New York State to enact a mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program on the Lake. With half of the funding coming from the S.A.V.E. partners, the program became the strongest aquatic invasive species prevention program east of the Mississippi.

Guided by science and powered by public-private partnership, S.A.V.E. also created a model for future Lake protection efforts, the Supervisor says. “The strength of the organization was that different cross-sections of the community were involved and their goal was a common one — save the Lake.”

“Lake George is the engine that drives the train. You damage the Lake and the train is going to slow down. You do it enough, the train is going to quit. You have to take care of the Lake.”


With the boat inspections up and running, the Town and The FUND turned their attention to winter road salt. “That was a no-brainer,” the Supervisor says. “It’s a given fact that we are polluting the face of the Earth, including Lake George, with salt.”

Armed with data gathered by researchers at RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute and by the Lake George Waterkeeper (a program of The FUND) documenting rising salt levels in the Lake and its tributaries, Supervisor Dickinson asked the Town’s Department of Public Works team to commit to participating in The FUND’s Lake George Road Salt Reduction Initiative. The Initiative trains municipal and private-sector plow drivers throughout the Lake’s basin in best practices for reducing road salt use while maintaining safe driving conditions, and provides funding for salt-reduction technologies. With the enthusiastic support of the highway crews, the Town has reduced its road salt use by approximately 50% — or 300 tons — per year, and became the first municipality in North America to be awarded certification by the Sustainable Winter Management (SWiM®) Program. In addition to protecting the Lake, the program has reduced the Town’s road salt costs by approximately $25,000 per year while keeping the roads safe for travelers.

Next, was an issue that had long been of concern for Supervisor Dickinson — the number of aging and failing septic systems leaking high levels of nutrients into the Lake and greatly increasing the risk of a harmful algal bloom. With a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town partnered with the Lake George Waterkeeper to conduct a study that found two-thirds of the systems in the town are either near or past their life expectancy. This study set the stage for The FUND’s new Safe Septic System Program (, which educates and equips property owners with everything they need to properly maintain their systems, even providing attractive bank financing through Adirondack Trust Company and Glens Falls National Bank for those systems in need of replacement.

When talking about protecting Lake George, Supervisor Dickinson is at once reflective and passionate. He says he and his wife, Andrea, “grew up on Lake George. We love Lake George. We’ve lived here all our lives and we’ve witnessed the degradation of its water quality. It’s still extremely clear and clean, but it’s easy for us to see the difference because we know what it used to be.”

While Lake George has thus far escaped the toxic water quality problems pervasive at other lakes across the state, the Supervisor says, Lake George lovers can’t afford to be passive. “It can happen here,” he says, and the potential impacts on the region’s quality of life and economy are unfathomable.

“Lake George is the engine that drives the train. You damage the Lake and the train is going to slow down. You do it enough, the train is going to quit. You have to take care of the Lake.”