Fred Lubnow of Princeton Hydro reported on progress with the Watershed Improvement Program grant from the Highlands Council during the Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting on Monday, November 19, at the civic center in Mount Arlington.

Lubnow has met with representatives of all four municipalities and both counties around the lake to determine the best locations for stormwater facilities and shoreline protection. Although the nature of the grant does not require state Department of Environmental Protection review, the Highlands Council representative, Kerry Green, prefers that Lubnow bring it to the DEP so the council can use data from the grant to support other initiatives.

Princeton Hydro has also finished its aquatic plant survey, Lubnow said. The company did a quantitative survey at five locations as well as at River Styx and Crescent Cove. Knowing what species are there, and in what quantities, is necessary to implement the grass carp program the commission is considering for those areas. Lake Hopatcong Foundation board president Marty Kane stated that he is maintaining contact with the DEP for permission to use the grass carp, which eat leafy weeds.

Lubnow noted the densities were not high in River Styx and Crescent Cove, but the sampling was done after the weed harvester had passed through and some homeowners had permits for chemical treatment. He said the survey will be done earlier in those areas in 2019. Overall, the two most pernicious weeds are the invasive Eurasian water milfoil and tape grass, a native plant. Monitoring of two sites did not find cyanotoxins (blue-green algae) above the level of concern.

According to DEP representative Josh Osowski, the final tally for the weed harvester was 3,925 cubic yards. This is less than last year’s total of just over 4,000 cubic yards of weeds, but the harvesters had to come out of the lake earlier because of the drawdown. He noted that the lake hit the target level of five feet down on November 14. The drawdown had to be stopped after the storm that produced 3.5 inches of rain in 12 hours because of downstream flooding.

Lake Hopatcong Foundation president Jessica Murphy reported that 427 volunteers collected 12,790 pounds of trash during the lake-wide cleanup on November 3. They filled 275 trash bags and found 950 glass bottles, 964 plastic bottles, and 160 items of clothing and shoes. The heavy rain the night before the cleanup made certain areas inaccessible, and some people were waiting to pull items out until after the exposed muck had frozen.

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Kane said the Landing railroad station is nearly ready for its certificate of occupancy. Once it is open for use by other groups (probably by March), Kane invited the commission to meet there regularly rather than move from town to town. Commissioner Robert Tessier, representative from the state Department of Community Affairs, observed that people will always know where the meeting is being held if there is a permanent location. Commission chair Ronald Smith offered to reserve the Drummond building in Jefferson for the first three months of the year.

Commissioner Mark Crowley, who is mayor of Roxbury, said that the township is planning to include a funding request to dredge the Landing channel in a new state Department of Transportation grant application. Kane commented the channel is used for transportation. Commissioner Fred Steinbaum pointed out that Landing was once the only shopping area around the lake, and people would use the channel to get there. Crowley stated that the Landing bridge will maintain one lane open even during the extensive construction planned.

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