LHC Discusses Lake-Wide Cleanup

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MOUNT ARLINGTON – Ron Morris, a Mount Arlington resident, was introduced as the newest member of the Lake Hopatcong Commission, Monday, at the monthly meeting. Morris will be the alternate Commissioner for Mount Arlington, said Chairman Russ Felter, who despite resigning as chairman two months ago, is still at the helm.

“Ron shares our goals to save the lake,” said Mount Arlington Commissioner Anne Seibert-Pravs.

Commissioner Fred Steinbaum, Gubernatorial representative, gave an update on the planned lake-wide cleanup scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9. The Lake Hopatcong Foundation, under the guidance of Foundation administrator Donna Macalle-Holly, is spearheading what Steinbaum called a “massive effort” to organize and coordinate the cleanup. Steinbaum reported more than 300 volunteers, including organizations and individuals from the four lake municipalities, Sussex and Morris counties, Hopatcong State Park, the Musconetcong Watershed Association and from far away as Lincoln Park, are on board to help in the effort.

According to Steinbaum, the object of the cleanup is to “take lake-related debris from around the circumference of the lake, but not aquatic vegetation.”

Previous cleanup efforts have yielded such items as tires, shopping carts and snowmobiles.

Bridgestone Tire Company has offered to haul away tires collected from the lake as long as the mud and muck of the lake bottom is washed from the tires, said Steimbaum.

IMG_6075When it came time for the chairman’s report, Felter had little to say except, “Well, I’m still here,” referring to his desire to step away from the Commission so as to spend more time with his family. Felter reported that the Governor is aware of the situation and will act once the election is over next month.

Steve Ellis, Department of Environmental Protection Regional Superintendent, reported the weed harvesting program proved successful this season, despite the harvesters getting into the water late in the season. According to Ellis, 2,299 cubic yards of aquatic vegetation was collected this season, up from 1,859 cubic yards in 2012.

Ellis also reported the state has approved a volunteer harvester repair program for the off-season. The brainchild of commissioner Art Clark, Hopatcong, the volunteers will assist LHC employee Mike Calderio with repairs to the harvesters in the hopes the machines will be ready to be put in the water early in the season.

“We are making efforts to get the harvesters repaired quicker and to get them out in the water early in the season,” said Ellis.

‘The DEP has stepped up with their funding,” said Felter referring to the weed harvesting program. “The volunteer program hopefully will grow.”

Ellis then brought to the commission a new issue; floating docks. According to Ellis, a lakefront business owner has threated legal action against the state if not allowed to add floating docks to existing permanent docks. Floating docks without permits are illegal. Ellis, believing, floating docks will become an issue, is looking for legal advice on this subject from the commission.

Ellis also introduced a new DEP employee, Dan Bello, an environmental specialist in the North Region office.

During the public portion of the meeting the issue of the lake drawdown was again the lead topic. John Kurzman from Jefferson, using weather data collected over the years, has determined December to be the wettest month. He suggested beginning the drawdown earlier in the year so that the refill could start before December. Staying on topic, Robert Rung from Hopatcong, asked the commission if it was possible to accelerate the drawdown. Kerry Kirk Pflugh, DEP Commissioner, said the state is “not in a position right now to make those alterations” to the drawdown schedule.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 18 at the Mount Arlington municipal building. The meeting begins at 7pm.

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