ROXBURY – Weeds, weed harvesting and the weed harvesting machines at Lake Hopatcong once again dominated the monthly Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting, Monday.
The meeting began with comments from the commission board members.
Anne Seibert-Pravs, representing Mount Arlington, was complimentary of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s first annual Block Party, held May 10, saying it was
an “amazing success.” Rich Zoschak, representing Roxbury concurred, praising the Foundation’s efforts and encouraging them to “keep up the good work.”
Commissioner Dan McCarthy, Hopatcong, mentioned there has been numerous sightings of dead deer floating in the lake and was wondering the Department of Environmental Protection’s policy of removing the carcasses. According to McCarthy, while out in his boat he encountered a deer floating near his residence, called the state police and was told it “was not our problem.” He then towed the carcass to the state police barracks shore in the hope they would remove it. McCarthy said he also conferred with a conservation officer who also told him to leave it in the water. Emily Rich, superintendent at Hopatcong State Park, said she is also receiving calls of deer carcasses spotted floating in the lake.
Commissioner Kerry Kirk Pflugh, representing the DEP, addressed the issue saying a dead deer in the water is a navigational issue and falls under the marine police’s jurisdiction. But, said Kirk Pflugh, because the state police on Lake Hopatcong do not have equipment to remove a deer carcass the policy is to “let nature take its course,” thus ending the discussion.
Commissioner Fred Steinbaum, a board Gubernatorial appointee, shared with other board members photos showing weeds poking through the top of the water in River Styx cove. The photos were taken by a River Styx resident.
Commissioner McCarthy and a handful of River Styx residents present at the meeting also confirmed the weed growth.
Moving to the Chairman’s comments, Russ Felter reported the DEP requested that one of the LHC weed harvesters be transported to the Shark River to help with an “emergency situation” cleanup of a fish kill in the waterway. The DEP also commandeered the weed harvester from Lake Musconetcong and employed a private contractor to help remove almost one million dead fish. The LHC harvester made its way to the shore on Monday and is scheduled to be returned to Lake Hopatcong, “cleaned and sanitized,” by Thursday.
“It’s ironic that we’re being told to let nature take its course,” said McCarthy referring to the dead deer in Lake Hopatcong. “It’s really ironic that Lake Hopatcong is bailing out the shore area,” he added.
Fred Lubnow, director of aquatic programs at Princeton Hydro, reported the 2014 water quality monitoring program will resume this week and results will be reported at a later date. Lubwno also reported the construction of phosphorous-eating floating wetlands in Ashley Cove, the last project to be completed from the existing 319(h) grant, will take place in early June. According to Lubnow, when completed, each island will be 250 square feet and each can remove 10 pounds of phosphorous material.
After Lubnow’s report, the discussion moved back to the weed harvest program. Chairman Felter reported that the bill to repair the entire LHC weed harvesting fleet exceeded $40,000 and that the state would only grant the money if the LHC would lend one of its small weed harvesters to Lake Musconetcong. Felter made clear that the LHC does not and will not have enough man-power to operate both small weed harvesters in Lake Hopatcong.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the LHC, the DEP and the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board was presented to the board. In it, it states the
LHC will temporarily transfer ownership to the LMRPB one small harvester, which will be returned by the end of 2014 in the same condition or better. The commission voted 7-0 to temporarily transfer ownership.
In his report to the commission, Steve Ellis, DEP regional supervisor, said the more than $40,000 worth of parts needed to repair the entire LHC weed harvesting fleet have been ordered or are on order. He also reported that the large harvester transferred to the Shark River would be brought back and directly unloaded into Lake Hopatcong.
Ellis said three volunteers have signed on to man the harvesters and three seasonal workers have been hired, including a clerk who will work from Hopatcong State Park and be available to take phone calls from residents who wish to report weed growth.
Multiple residents voiced concern about current weed growth in River Styx during the public portion of the meeting, including long-time resident Willa Scantlebury who believes the weeds in the cove has gotten increasingly worse, especially in the last four years. Ellis assured Scantlebury that the River Styx cove would not be overlooked this year.
IN OTHER NEWS
The board voted 7-0 to endorse the concept of organizing a dock committee “to help the state park personnel deal with dock regulations for Lake Hopatcong lakefront property owners,” said Kirk Pflugh. The dock committee will also help align all four towns to have the same zoning laws for docks. According to Ellis, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation has agreed to help in the effort by surveying a small portion of the lake.