By: Jess Murphy
Lake Hopatcong was fortunate to be visited by two high-profile elected officials on Thursday. Rep. Mikie Sherrill and District Director Kellie Doucette stopped in Hopatcong in the morning, took a caravan tour of Crescent Cove, and then spoke with our board chairman Marty Kane, Colleen Lyons of the Lake Hopatcong Commission, Hopatcong Mayor Mike Francis, and myself at the Borough Hall. In particular, she was thrilled to announce that she was able to insert language into the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 to include New Jersey lakes:
Sec. 128. Harmful Algal Bloom Demonstration Program.
This section directs the Corps to carry out a demonstration program for detecting, treating, preventing, and eliminating harmful algal blooms. Additionally, this section directs the Corps to consult with Federal and state agencies and to maximize the use of existing data and programs.
From the text: “(c) FOCUS AREAS.—In carrying out the demonstration program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall undertake program activities related to harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes, the tidal and inland waters of the State of New Jersey, and Lake Okeechobee, Florida.”
Later in the day, we then welcomed Gov. Phil Murphy to the lake for the second time within a year, as he grabbed a bite with the four mayors at the Windlass restaurant. When the governor visited our building in November to make announcements about HAB (harmful algal bloom) funding, he promised to return during the summer, and he was following up on that promise while also listening to insights from Hopatcong Mayor Francis, Jefferson Mayor Eric Wilsusen, Mt. Arlington Mayor Mike Stanzilis, and Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo. Representatives from the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Lake Hopatcong Foundation were also present, along with a few aides to the governor and several other local officials (though with social distancing we were spaced to two tables). The concerns addressed included the struggle to get money for HAB prevention projects and to fund the Lake Hopatcong Commission, as well as hopes for a fair hearing on grass carp, concerns around closing Hopatcong State Park at only 50 percent capacity, the weed harvesting shutdown, and the inability to get a meeting with NJDEP Commissioner McCabe. There was also a lot of laughter and good-natured joking among the group (and a lot of nearby restaurant patrons taking photos with the governor). Gov. Murphy said they would get back to them on each one and he would be back to sit down with them soon to make sure these were addressed. He also asked each mayor about Covid-19 impacts in their towns.
It was a very encouraging day for Lake Hopatcong and the community that surrounds it, and we are optimistic that these conversations can help the lake receive the attention and resources it needs and deserves. Many thanks to Rep. Sherrill and Gov. Murphy for putting Lake Hopatcong front-and-center on a beautiful July day!
|(left to right) Lake Hopatcong Commission Administrator Colleen Conover, NJ Governor Phil Murphy, LHF Executive Director Jess Murphy, and LHF Chairman of the Board Marty Kane|
|(left to right) Hopatcong Mayor Mike Francis, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, Lake Hopatcong Commission Administrator Colleen Conover, and LHF Executive Director Jess Murphy|