With grant money received from the state’s I Boat NJ program, the Lake Hopatcong Alliance began one of its major projects, a weed mapping survey, which will aim to identify the different weed species around the lake.
“This is truly an exciting project, as it is an important first step to help identify potential alternative methods to lake management by better understanding aquatic vegetation within the lake,” the alliance stated in its newsletter announcement about the program.
The mapping began on September 10 and continued through Wednesday. After efforts wrapped up on Wednesday, alliance president Ray Fernandez said he was pleased with how the survey was conducted. “They were really plugging away this week,” he said. “I feel confident that we gathered a lot of useful information.”
The alliance contracted with Princeton Hydro, an ecological consulting firm that regularly does work on the lake through the Lake Hopatcong Commission, to run the survey. At more than 100 locations, the scientists laid out 100-foot transects and checked the weed species and lake bed at 20-foot intervals along each one.
Volunteers from the alliance, commission administrator Donna Macalle-Holly, and commission weed harvesting foreman Michael Caldiero worked alongside Princeton Hydro to survey various locations around the lake. Fernandez said they made sure to include areas the weed harvesters cannot reach, including Bright’s Cove, Benedict’s Lagoon, and the rocky area between Raccoon and Halsey islands. “Obviously we need alternative weed control methods there,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said the experience was educational for him, as he discovered new things about the lake bed, such as a harder-than-expected bottom at the outfall from Lake Winona in Bright’s Cove, and learned about weed species he was unfamiliar with. “There were a number of surprising things, at least to me, that we discovered along the way,” he said.
Ultimately, he said, “there’s no silver bullet” with regard to combating weed species on the lake. But members of the alliance hope to have a better understanding of what types of weeds can be found in various parts of the lake, so a more comprehensive weed-management plan can be created.
“The survey went well,” he said, “but the tough thing is turning the results into the next step.” Fernandez expects to have a report from Princeton Hydro by Thanksgiving, and then the alliance will craft a plan of action from there. He expects volunteers to return to the GPS locations in the spring, and for the alliance to merge these efforts an alternative weed control project that examines a variety of weed-management techniques, including chemical and biological options, all in an effort to create a broad Aquatic Plant Management Plan.
“We want people to have the ability to make an educated decision on how to handle their own weed problems, depending on where they live around the lake,” Fernandez said. “And we can help the Lake Hopatcong Commission refine what they do, too.”
This is the first of several projects to be conducted using the $120,807 I Boat NJ grant to the Lake Hopatcong Alliance.
Still shots from a video of the effort, provided by Yanique Thorman of the Lake Hopatcong Alliance Board of Directors: