weed monitoring - 2Whether it’s because of the low water, the mild winter, the lack of ice cover, or abbreviated harvest seasons in recent years, the weeds on Lake Hopatcong are already causing headaches for boaters before the summer season has begun. The issue was a top one during the Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting on Monday night at the Roxbury Municipal Building. “It’s going to be ugly this year,” said Lake Hopatcong resident Tim Clancy, who reported that the Knee Deep Club trout fishing contest over the weekend resulted in meager catches because anglers had such trouble trolling through the weeds. “Every single person in the contest had trouble trolling,” he said. “It was impossible fishing conditions…. It’s going to be a tough situation.” Fred Steinbaum of Hopatcong agreed, saying that he noticed the same thing while waterskiing over the weekend. “There were floating weeds at the surface in the [deeper] middle areas,” he said. “I’ve never seen weeds on the surface that were so dense. We need to get going on the weed harvest.” Kerry Kirk Pflugh, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection representative on the commission, said that the weed harvest team, which included several returning employees, had started on Monday. She said they would begin by looking at the equipment and what repairs might be necessary, and go from there. LHC - May 2012Commission administrator Donna Macalle-Holly pointed out that the effort began in mid-May last year as well, but the harvesters weren’t on the water until mid-July because of necessary repairs. It was unclear, she said, when the actual harvest would be able to begin. The commission also discussed the water level, which has been an issue this year as the lake has taken longer to bounce back from the 26-inch drawdown because of low winter and early spring rainfall. But recent rain has it less than a foot below the dam height, and commissioners and residents praised the efforts of the state to restrict water outflow at key times, such as during heavy rainfall. “I’m happy to see the Water Level Management Plan is being implemented,” commissioner Tom Foley said, adding that the fast reactions were “a step in the right direction.” Felter agreed. “There’s been good communication and cooperation, and I want to thank everyone for that,” he said. John Kurzman of Lake Hopatcong said he hoped that they would continue such efforts in the years to come. “I really have to commend the DEP,” he said. As of Monday night, the lake was at 8.10 feet at the dam, about 10.8 inches below the spillway. (Click here for the latest water level reading.) In other news: •    The commission celebrated its tenth anniversary, and Macalle-Holly displayed boards that showed photos of the accomplishments over the years. “It’s been a fast ten years,” commissioner Richard Zoshak said. “I guess time flies when you’re having fun.”•    Clancy, speaking on behalf of the Knee Deep Club, announced the Water Scout search for the invasive water chestnut species, which will take place from June 15 to July 15. He said June would be declared “Water Chestnut Awareness Month” and that the goal has shifted toward making it a long-term self-sustaining public awareness effort. In addition to the regular monitoring of most of the shoreline, the club has teams that will focus extra effort on the most at-risk areas. “This problem never goes away,” he said. “It’s forever… so we need to get every lake user to buying in.” For information about the water chestnut, click here.•    Cliff Beebe asked that the commission pay attention to the removal of dams downstream, and said the group should focus representing Lake Hopatcong’s interests, not downstream interests. “You’re an advisory board for Lake Hopatcong, not the Musconetcong River,” he said.  “Do they need 7.5 million gallons [of water per day]? They don’t.” Kurzman seconded Beebe’s suggestion that the commission keep tabs on the status of dams downstream and how they relate to the water-level issue for the lake. Clancy said the same amount of water would flow downstream regardless of whether dams are in place.•    Two resolutions related to selecting contractors for grant work were passed unanimously: one for a $63,000 project on King Road in Landing and one for a $61,000 project on Yacht Club Drive in Lake Hopatcong. The next meeting of the Lake Hopatcong Commission is at 7 p.m. on June 18 at the Hopatcong Senior Center, 32 Lakeside Boulevard, Hopatcong.

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