Last week Douglas Zellman, chairman of the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board, maneuvered a small boat through the thick lily pads and shallow water so that Robynn Shannon, a Ramapo College botanist, could examine the lake's plants.
said that the planning board was concerned that DEP would halt or delay the weed harvesting that is done annually to check the spread of an aggressive non-native water plant, Eurasian milfoil, that clogs lakes and ponds across the country.
...Zellman said that the board members run the weed harvester as volunteers.
Last year, the board funded 680 hours of weeding that removed 4,008 cubic yards of weeds.Zellman
said the DEP order to survey the lake surprised the board members since the state agency did not contact them until April.He
said they also were concerned that the DEP would want additional surveys that could halt the weed harvesting or delay it so long that it would have no impact.
The 330-acre lake is already showing weed growth, he
Shannon said that it takes water longer than land to warm up enough for good plant growth, but that could be less of a factor with Lake Musconetcong because it is so shallow.She
said two other surveys are planned, one over the summer and the third in the fall after the weeds die back.They will search for anything that is on the state list of endangered plants, she
said. plant on the state listZellman
said that water in the lake's coves average less than 2 feet deep, and the middle of the lake averages 3 to 4 feet deep.Sunlight can penetrate to 10 feet, he
said, which helps plants grow under water.
Lifting an oar draped in green and brown weeds, Zellman
said boaters can not use outboard motors in the coves because the plants tangle around the propellers.He
also said the weed harvester operators find many large dead pickerel, some 22 inches or larger, tangled in the weeds.
said the long-term goal of the planning board is to dredge the lake to a depth of 12 feet.That would provide enough depth to hamper the growth of milfoil, he
The cost of the dredging would be offset by the sale of the material removed from the lake, he
"The lake is 3 to 4 feet deep, and measurements show there is 7 to 9 feet of silt," Zellman
said."Siltation accounts for 80 percent of the lake's volume."
Beneath the silt is peat, he
said, which could be used as peat moss or as an ingredient in top soil.
The quality of the peat could be a factor in the cost of the dredging, he
"The weed harvesting is just a holding action," Zellman
said."What is needed a action that would solve the problem.Why not let us fix the lake and reintroduce the rare plants?"he
The towns around the lake are mostly sewered and have rules in place that call for use of low-phosphorus fertilizer, and the planning board is seeking funds for a drainage and filtering project designed to keep reduce the storm runoff that enters the lake, Zellman
What is lost with the lake in such poor condition is the social aspect that it once brought to the towns, he
said.Local children hear their grandparents tell about fishing and swimming in Lake Musconetcong, but they are unable to fish or swim because of the weeds, he
"We're trying to repair 100 years of damage," Zellman