Every 5 years, the State of New Jersey draws down Lake Hopatcong by 60 inches to allow property owners to repair docks and seawalls.
The drawdown can also help to kill off unwanted aquatic plants in shallow areas, while facilitating cleanup efforts. The first lake-wide cleanup was organized by the LHF five years ago. Tons of debris was pulled from along the 50-mile shoreline. The unfortunate inventory included 1,100 tires, 2,000 cans and 1,500 glass bottles.
2018 lake-wide cleanup tallies
This year, the LHF partnered with the Lake Hopatcong Commission to organize a second lake-wide cleanup in conjunction with the 60-inch drawdown. The haul was lighter this year, but no less noteworthy. More than 400 volunteers logged an excess of 1200 hours collecting debris from 50+ access points around the lake’s nearly 50 miles of shoreline. A dizzying amount of debris was collected, including 4,000 drink containers, 300 plastic bags, 175 toys, 150 articles of clothing and nearly 800 tires. The unseemly assortment of items also featured patio furniture, bowling balls, vacuum cleaners, a canoe and a television.
“The cleanup was a huge success, thanks to the volunteers who showed up despite very challenging conditions,” said LHF Grants and Program Director Donna Macalle-Holly, who coordinated the project. “We had outstanding support from Girl and Boy Scout troops, along with several other groups.”
Teams included students from Montclair State University, the Academy for Environmental Science at Jefferson High School, and Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta. Employee teams were also recruited by MetLife and local businesses, including Suburban Consulting, Ridge Powersports, Mason Street Pub and Main Lake Market.
Mayors from around the lake also rolled up their sleeves for the cleanup: Mike Francis (Hopatcong), Mike Stanzilis (Mt. Arlington) and Mark Crowley (Roxbury).
In addition to participating in the cleanup, Mayor Francis also transported debris and tires to drop off locations in Hopatcong. “I really appreciate all the volunteers participating in this cleanup because they know how precious our lake is and how important it is to work together to take care of it,” said Francis.
“The Lake Hopatcong Foundation reached out to us and all the other beaches on the lake. A lot of their volunteers came to help. I was a little disappointed that more of our [CAPP] members didn’t show up, but I’m very thankful for everyone who did, including the students from Montclair State University. I have no regrets about signing up. It’s actually more fun in the rain. It makes things more memorable.” —April Leaver, president of the Community Association of Prospect Point
“I grew up just up the street and I’m always looking for projects for our club to do. For us, as a Catholic organization, we’re always looking to express ourselves through community service. It’s important to be able to clean up nature and keep our water clean. We didn’t find anything crazy. Just some goggles and a lot of bottles and cans, but no jet skis or airplane engines.” —Sean Grealy, campus minister at Montclair State University, leader of the Newman Catholic Club
“I live on the lake and have two businesses here, so want other people in the community to know we care about the lake as much as they do. I saw the cleanup posted on Facebook and we brought 10 people from Ridge Power Sports. We all use the lake and we collected about 20 tires, along with a lot of other trash.” —Ryan Peterson, owner of Ridge Power Sports and Colorado Ski & Snowboard
“I brought five friends and there’s definitely more stuff than we thought there would be. At first, it didn’t look like much but when you start looking around there was a lot. We came out because we hang out together and are on the lake every year, sp we might as well do whatever we can to keep it clean. The most interesting thing we found was a wallet with IDs in it, so we’ll try to find out who it belongs to.” —Chris O’Connor, cleanup team captain
“I did it the last time, too, so I guess that makes me a glutton for punishment. Back then, I was in the muck up to my waist and was surprised I was able to get out. It was easier this time.” —Rory Scanlan, homeowner and cleanup team captain
“When I saw the bad weather, I thought it would be a washout, but a lot of people came out. We just wanted to take some time to give back to the community a little bit. I thought we were doing this for free, but we already got something out of it. My son [11-year-old Adrian] found an Ironman action figure!” —Mike Boccher, homeowner
“Driving around on Saturday and looking through the photos afterward, we not only saw a whole lot of debris that was pulled from the lakebed, we also saw smiles and people of all ages helping each other, at locations all around the lake. We’re so grateful for everyone who was a part of this incredible event.” —Jess Murphy, president of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation
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