Rain Garden 2012 - 5In the first collaborative project between the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Hopatcong State Park, a rain garden has been established alongside the building that houses the park's snack bar and bathrooms, in an effort to reduce runoff and filter water as it makes its way toward Lake Hopatcong. The project, funded through a N.J. Department of Environmental Protection 319(h) grant, involved some excavation and the planting of specific species into a downhill slope, where stormwater will flow, supporting the vegetation and going through natural infiltration before entering Lake Hopatcong. "It's looking great," said Donna Macalle-Holly, the Lake Hopatcong Commission administrator who organizes and implements such projects. "It was a nice collaboration with the state park, too. We usually work with municipalities. But the DEP has been big into rain barrels and rain gardens, so they recommended a rain garden for this project, and the park was agreeable." In addition to the environmental benefits, the rain garden also works well as an example to the community. "It's considered a demonstration project," Macalle-Holly said. As such, it is hoped that residents of the area might decide to create their own rain gardens, at whatever scale fits on their own property.  Rutgers Cooperative Extension is going to be creating signage for the garden to help educate the community. And Macalle-Holly said that if anyone was interested in helping to maintain the garden, the commission and park will be looking for volunteers. Call 973-601-1070.

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