A summer to remember: From funding worries to Aquapalooza to Irene—looking back at the 2011 season

It was certainly a year to remember—in good ways and in bad. We may have seen the start to a long-term funding plan for the Lake Hopatcong Commission (yay!). We also saw the wettest August on record, sending the lake above the high-water mark not one, not two, but three times (boo!). Plus all of the usual celebrations and festivities. As always, it’s sad to say goodbye, but we’re already looking forward to a (hopefully drier) 2012.


Stats to Remember

Tons of weeds pulled from Lake Hopatcong, from July 11 to September 14: 541 Number of days the lake was under a no-wake restriction, from Memorial Day to September 30: 23 Highest temperature on Mt. Arlington Borough Hall community information sign on July 22: 103˚


Visits from Irene and Lee Irene_-_22_-_by_Eric_RochelleA rainy August sent Lake Hopatcong above the 9.5-foot high-water mark at the dam for a few hours on August 16. But things got really serious when Hurricane Irene hit the area on August 28, sending the lake a foot the high-water mark to 10.49 feet. After just barely recovering from that on Labor Day, the remnants of Hurricane Lee came through and pushed the lake back up even further, to 10.72 feet. These floods were still well below the record high in 2000 of 11.8 feet; but nonetheless, the high water caused damage to property and kept motorboats (at least those following the N.J. State Police no-wake restriction) from creating wakes for the last few weeks of summer. Though many paddlers, sailors, and rowers enjoyed the calm waters, it made for a very quiet end of the boating season for residents, visitors, and business owners.

An all-clear from the Water Scouts water_chestnut_2For the second year, dozens of Water Scout volunteers­—organized by Tim Clancy and the Knee Deep Club—combed the shoreline of Lake Hopatcong, searching for any sign of the invasive water chestnut plant. Last year, one colony was found in Landing Channel and eradicated. This year, not a single incidence of the plant was discovered—great news for those who use the lake, and the aquatic species that live in it. Residents and visitors must continue to keep vigilant, but at least we can breathe easy another year.

Funding limbo... followed by a long-term solution? weed_harvest_2010_-_mainIt was a year of extremes for the Lake Hopatcong Commission. Over the winter, the group faced backlash for the state’s water-level management plan, which many believe allows too much water to be let through the dam. (By the end of the summer, the commission listened to residents venting about how not enough water was sent downstream ahead of storms.) The commission also faced a very dire future, as chairman Russ Felter moved forward with the weed harvest in June, despite the lack of concrete funding. State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco put an allocation in the state budget for the commission, which was removed during last-minute negotiations in Trenton. A group of residents, spearheaded by the Knee Deep Club, started a grassroots effort to raise money to pay for this year’s harvest. That became unnecessary as the commission and state hammered out a plan that would put the commission staff on the payroll as employees of Hopatcong State Park. At the September meeting, Felter indicated more good news is on the way. So perhaps, after facing stark propects in June, the group might finally have a long-term fiscal plan in place.

Swimming with purpose Bulger_Swim_2011_-_8On July 21, Bill Bulger swam through the Lake Hopatcong waters for the 25th time, diving in at the Jefferson House and emerging at KaBobs in Henderson Cove, with his grandchildren by his side (left). This year, his swim raised money for the family of Kyle O’Brien, a Hopatcong boy with cancer.
The third annual Tom Wear Memorial Swim (right) took place in Woodport on September 10—drawing scores of swimmers, and raising money for a trio of animal-oriented charitable organizations.

Root, root, root for the home team! lfyc_st_-_mainThe Shore Hills Country Club and Lake Forest Yacht Club swim teams, the Mountain Lakes Crew Club, and the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club Sailing Team all call Lake Hopatcong home, and each represented the lake with pride in 2011.  At the Garden State Wakeoff on August 27, riders on the home team beat the out-of-towners. Kudos, kiddos!

Big Fish! KDC_Walleye_2011_-_LouThe state and the Knee Deep Club stocked the lake in April, and many of those fish have been caught during the club’s annual series of fishing contests.

Come sail away... tomahawk_2011_-_mainLake H once again hosted world-class sailors, including Olympians Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl for the Tomahawk Regatta in June. Stars, E-Scows, Thistles, A-Cats, Lasers, 420s, and Optis remain vibrant and active.

So much to celebrate
Between the summer holidays, the various towns’ community days, and events such as the Antique and Classic Boat Show (June 25), the Blessing of the Fleet (June 26), and Aquapalooza (July 23), the lake was hopping with activity from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Wakeoff2011_-_1  Fireworks2011_-_3  ACBS_2011_-_1

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