The water scouts—on the lookout for the invasive water chestnut plant—begin their efforts today along the shores and throughout the shallowest coves of Lake Hopatcong.
The dozens of volunteers will be in kayaks, canoes, and row boats, wearing yellow hats and taking note of whether they see any rosettes that resemble the water chestnut, an invasive species that hasn’t been discovered on Lake Hopatcong, but could be severely detrimental to the lake environment and recreational scene.
Organized by the Knee Deep Club, the water scouts are made up of various paddling groups around the lake, and are trained to both recognize the water chestnut and inform residents and passersby about the plant. Tim Clancy of the Knee Deep Club hopes the search will result in a clean bill of health; but if the species is discovered, the club will put together a plan for removal before it goes to seed. Most important, though, he hopes the effort will help inform the broader watershed about the water chestnut and train people to be on the lookout in their everyday lake lives. The water chestnut has already taken over parts of Lake Musconetcong, downstream, and various other water bodies around the region. "This thing isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important that knowledge about it becomes part of the lake culture," Clancy said. "It’s much easier to be proactive about this sort of thing than cleaning up a big mess later."
So keep an eye out for the water scouts, who will be searching their assigned zones from June 4 through 14. And keep an eye out for those water chestnuts, too!
To read more stories about the plant and these efforts, click below: