When Esther Poulsen was first introduced to Lake Hopatcong sixteen years ago, it was during what she calls a “leap of faith.”  She had just married her husband, Chris, and he took her to their new apartment in the basement of a house on Bertrand Island. “We loved it there,” she said.  The couple moved from that apartment to a place in Landing for ten years, before finding the perfect lakefront home at the north end of the lake, in Bright’s Cove.  During that time, Poulsen, 41, has not only spent countless hours enjoying Lake Hopatcong; she’s also advocated on behalf of the lake and made efforts to improve the recreational and environmental landscape.  One such effort has been a weed management program, which she organized for this Tuesday at Lake Hopatcong Marine.Chris and Esther Poulsen on Lake Hopatcong. “We treat our cove every year for weeds,” Poulsen says. “A couple of years ago I had looked into the possibility of dredging our cove, but found that it was extremely expensive, so I started looking up different alternatives.” Those alternatives include hydroraking (in which a company pulls the weeds) and a method she saw on the show “Dirty Jobs” called suction harvesting, where a company sucks the weeds and muck out of the lake basin with a vacuum-type device. “Right now we chemically treat the weeds, and they die and go to the bottom,” she says. “Here it actually takes the material out of the lake and provides a healthier environment for the fish and wildlife, and a little bit more depth for recreation.” Initially, she was just going to present these and other options to the residents of her cove, but Poulsen realized that she could help educate the wider community by opening it up as a public event.  So she’s gathered representatives from a variety of companies to answer questions on Tuesday. “I figure we can hear what they have to say, and some small groups might decide to pool together, or maybe it could lead to a larger-scale project.” The event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday (May 25) at Lake Hopatcong Marine in Lake Hopatcong. But that’s not the only effort Poulsen has made on behalf of the lake community. She was one of the organizers of the Tom Wear Memorial Swim in Woodport last September, and is helping to prepare for an even bigger event this September 12, when it will serve as a regional championship for U.S. Masters Swimming—an event that is expected to draw more than 300 swimmers and last a whole weekend. “We’re hoping to use this as an opportunity to bring more people to Lake Hopatcong, to gain more awareness for the lake, and maybe get more funding,” she says. In recent years, Poulsen has started to get into swimming herself, and is currently training on the lake for an open water swim in Bermuda this fall.  She and her husband also enjoy boating, tubing, JetSkiing, and “all of the normal toys” you’ll find on the lake. All of that fun she has on the water is part of what drives Poulsen to work on projects such as the weed seminar and swim competition. “I got called by somebody [about the weed seminar] who asked why I was doing this, and what company I was representing,” she says. “I’m not representing anybody except lake residents.  This is for citizens by citizens.  We can complain about what the Lake Hopatcong Commission is and isn’t doing, or we can say, ‘alright, let’s see what we can do right now.’” The Usual Questions: What are your favorite lake destinations?  "It’s got to be out in the middle of the lake for the July 4 fireworks. I love the fireworks every year." What is your earliest memory of Lake Hopatcong?  "When my husband and I got married, I actually was living in Pennsylvania, and he took this apartment on Bertrand’s Island without me seeing it. It was a leap of faith coming to northern NJ, to this area.  And I remember walking down the hill to where this apartment was, seeing this absolutely spectacular view, and falling in love with the area. That was October 1994, and we spent so much time hanging out on the water over the years, and were so thrilled to finally be able to buy a house on the water." Describe the perfect summer day on the lake.  "I would say a perfect summer day is getting breakfast on Sunday morning, parking somewhere around Great Cove, or even getting breakfast at Jefferson House, watching sailboats practice out on the main lake.  I love watching that, it’s one of the nicest things out there, and Sunday mornings are always great."

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