Docks along South Lakeside Avenue in Jefferson stretch out into Lake Hopatcong.

DEP, Drew University and Lake Hopatcong Foundation complete lake dock survey

TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with Drew University and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation on the first ever comprehensive GIS survey of docks on state-owned Lake Hopatcong, which is the state’s largest lake, Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.

The collected data will aid the DEP in enforcing dock regulations and making decisions on permit requests for the repair and rehabilitation of existing docks, and construction of new docks on Lake Hopatcong, which is a 9-mile-long, 2,500-acre body of water located in Morris and Sussex counties.

The lake is used for boating, fishing, swimming and other water-related recreational activities.

“This gives us a current and accurate inventory of docks for the entire lake, and provides a very useful tool in helping us manage the lake,’’ said Mark Texel, Director of the DEP’s State Park Service. “It is especially important because the state has control over these docks, and with the growth of dock construction in recent years we did not have a current inventory.’’

The survey also will assist the DEP’s and the Lake Hopatcong Commission’s newly formed dock committee, which will review dock regulations for potential changes.

The new data shows there are 2,183 docks on Lake Hopatcong, and it provides breakdowns of dock lengths and other key facts, such as owner information, lots and blocks, and street addresses. It also provides a breakdown of docks by the four municipalities surrounding Lake Hopatcong — Hopatcong, Jefferson, Mount Arlington and Roxbury — and divides them into residential and commercial structures.

“Before this work was completed, we had to get in a car and drive around the lake to find and inspect a dock each time a permit application was submitted to us,’’ said Hopatcong State Park Superintendent Emily Rich. “With this information now compiled into one database, we can perform these tasks much more efficiently. The efforts of Drew University will provide a big savings in time and money for the state, and expedite reviews for lake residents and businesses.”

The survey work was done by Drew University Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Lisa Jordan and two of her students, Maxwell Dolphin and Daniel Ratyniak. The Lake Hopatcong Foundation coordinated the project under the direction of its grants and project coordinator Donna Macalle-Holly.

“Drew University is proud of its experiential learning opportunities that allow students to have relevant, real-world experiences and work side-by-side with qualified professors,” said Drew University President MaryAnn Baenninger. “We hope that the DEP can use the information gathered in the dock survey to help with decisions about repair, construction and rehabilitation for this important state waterway.”

“This is a fantastic example of what great work can be done when a variety of groups come together for a common purpose,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation President Jessica K. Murphy. “Drew University put together an excellent report, and the State Park Service is able to instantly put that study to work on behalf of Lake Hopatcong residents. We are just thrilled to have been a part of this collaboration.”

Lake Hopatcong was originally two smaller adjacent lakes, Great and Little Ponds, which were the headwaters of the Musconetcong River. It was constructed as part of the Morris Canal, a 90-mile waterway that extended from Newark in Essex County, to Phillipsburg in Warren County.

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