JEFFERSON – Hundreds of volunteers scattered around the shores of Lake Hopatcong Saturday morning taking part in the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s lake-wide cleanup.
Under the River Styx Bridge in Hopatcong, a crew of about 40, both kids and adults, pulled a dirt bike from one side of the bridge and a gas-powered lawn mower from the other side. Along the shore in Nolan’s Point in Jefferson, the 20-member crew from the East Shore Property Owners Association, which included kids from the neighborhood, patrolled the shoreline from Benedict Road to the houses along Nolan’s Point Park Road. Among their discovered treasures were a water trampoline, a wheel barrel and a paddleboat. Together, they hauled 70 tires back to their beach, using muscle power and a cart attached to an ATV, said association member Bill Craig.
At Dow’s Boat Rental, four divers from Elite Divers in Randolph braved the cold weather and 50 degree lake water to explore the water in Great Cove. After close to two hours in the water, the divers had a treasure trove of goodies, including an old wood cleat, an ice pick, an American Express card, and empty purse, and an old blue glass bottle from the W.H. Cawley Company. The divers also hauled 25-30 tires from the floor of the lake to the docks at Dow’s.
“The divers had a ton of fun,” said Kristen Holenstein, the social media consultant and web master for Elite Divers.
“We are always excited to help out with a cleanup. As divers we really care about our local waters. We want to make it safe not only for the people who use the lake but for the wildlife and the aquatic vegetation as well,” she said.
At Lee’s County Park in Mount Arlington, Scott Ward and his son, Zach, 14, from Flanders were finding mostly tires, a few bottles and a few cans. Along with Alverto Rodriguez, an employee of the Morris County Park Commission, the Wards and Rodriguez pulled tire after tire after tire from the lakebed in Van Every Cove.
“It’s been a group effort,” said Rodriguez as he dragged yet another muck-covered tire down the long concrete dock in front of the Lee’s Pavilion.
Ward and his son are frequent visitors to Lake Hopatcong, swimming at the state park and boating on the lake.
“I saw in the news that this was happening and I thought it would be a good way for my son to get the community hours he needs for his CCD class. And I thought it would be a good excuse to get him out of the house early,” said Ward. Despite the early 7am wake-up call, Zack was happily exploring the lakebed, getting stuck in the muck frequently, but always finding a way to wiggle out and move to another area.
All around the lake volunteers were meeting the challenge of muck and debris, and for the most part, conquering the muck. Most groups completed cleaning their assigned areas by 11:30 or earlier, said the Foundation’s event coordinator Donna Macalle-Holly, who scheduled the event from 8am until 12pm.
“Everyone was feeling really good about the cleanup,” said Macalle-Holly Saturday afternoon. “There was a good buzz leading up to this morning.”
Earlier in the week Macalle-Holly and Tim Clancy, a Knee Deep Club director, drove around the lake to take note of locations more in need of cleanup than others.
Macalle-Holly’s impression was that the lake looked really clean, including the area near her home off Espanong Road in Jefferson.
“There was a lot more debris out there than people thought,” she said after collecting four bags of debris from along her shoreline.
Clancy’s group of about 30 Knee Deep Club and Muskies, Inc. club members started at the end of Jerry Drive near Brady Bridge and worked their way toward the Mason Street Pub and Marina. Some of the group made their way across to Liffy Island, piling tires and heavy debris from the shoreline and storing it all in one area.
“It’s all piled in one spot. When the lake freezes we’ll figure out how to get it out of there,” said Clancy.
According to Clancy, the group collected and lugged “a lot of stuff” from an area not inhabited with homes or businesses, including more than 30 bags of debris, floatation devices and buoys. By the time group members made their way to the Mason Street Pub they were almost three miles away from their cars. Covered in mud and muck, they emerged from the woods as a “scary bunch,” said Clancy. But greeting them at Mason Street was another group of cleanup volunteers who willingly transported Clancy’s group back to their vehicles.
The debris collected from around the lake was either thrown into designated dumpsters or left in piles at designated locations, said Macalle-Holly. The DPW’s from each local municipality will collect the debris beginning Monday. The tires will be brought to a specific location and hosed down. Bridgestone Retail Operation will take the tires as part of their Spent Tire Program, which facilitates the collection and recycling of improperly discarded tires.
“The Lake Hopatcong Foundation coordinated this massive cleanup with hundreds of volunteers and this shows what the foundation can do,” said Macalle-Holly. “We need everyone’s support so the foundation can continue its work to help improve and protect Lake Hopatcong for everyone,” she said.
At the River Styx Bridge in Hopatcong, local scout groups and their families banded together to the shorline near the bridge.
Alverto Rodriguez drags tires picked from the lake to the end of the dock near Lee's Pavillion.