Thanks to the efforts of the Water Scouts, Lake Hopatcong residents can be sure that the invasive water chestnut plant has not established itself in the lake bottom. But the threat is eternal, and one of the biggest potential sources of the plant is just downstream in Lake Musconetcong, parts of which are choked up by the stringy (and prolific) species. Birds and boats can make their way from Musconetcong to Hopatcong, bringing the barbed seeds with them—and with less than 1.5 miles separating the lakes, the threat is very real.
To help Lake Musconetcong—and to help protect Lake Hopatcong—Hopatcong residents Vaughn Tiedeman and Joe Kolaya have put together a one-day kayaking event to help pull water chestnuts from Lake Musconetcong's waters. "I pull my kayak from that lake, and [water chestnuts] are stuck all over my boat," Tiedeman said, adding that because he knows about the issue, he makes sure not to transport any of the plants or seeds back to Lake Hopatcong.
Tiedeman, who owns Living Adventure in New Jersey—a social adventure company that offers hiking, mountain biking, and similar activities to groups—has a fleet of kayaks that he is making available for the effort. Alongside Kolaya, the two will host groups of volunteers on Friday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for hour-long kayak trips. The use of the kayaks will be free, but it will come one specific requirement: to help rid the lake of water chestnuts.
"Every hour we'll take 12 to 15 people out, so they can enjoy some time kayaking, but also pull the water chestnut weeds they see along the way," Tiedeman said. "People can help out, and those who aren't regular kayakers can give it a try."
Kolaya, who owns Kula Yoga and Wellness studio in Stanhope, has been a a Water Scout on Lake Hopatcong, and Tiedeman credits his friend with drawing him into the effort to search Lake Hopatcong for the invasive species. The two of them then decided they could use Tiedeman's resources to get an effort under way downstream. "I'm just trying to help out in the community," Tiedeman said. "I live in Hopatcong, and my business takes me all over the tri-state area. But I realized I do very little in my own backyard, which is ridiculous, because there's this beautiful lake I want to get involved with, to help out and bring what I do to the community here."
Those who are interested in taking part in the effort on Lake Musconetcong can sign up for their timeslot (10 to 11 a.m.; 11 a.m. to noon; noon to 1 p.m.; or 1 to 2 p.m.) at this website:
Groups will meet on the water, just behind the Growing Stage Children's Theater in Netcong.
"Help the environment, support the community, and spend a day in a kayak," Tiedeman said of the plan. "Sounds like a perfect day to me!"