Green

In Roxbury, Lake Hopatcong Muck Gets Gardeners' Attention

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A hydroraking machine owned by Solitude Lake Management of Hopatcong brings dead plants and lake muck to a Roxbury Township bucket loader
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ROXBURY, NJ – A contractor is nearly finished removing dead plants and black “muck” from Landing Channel, an experiment funded by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation that, if effective, might be used elsewhere on Lake Hopatcong.

The “hydroraking” has left deep piles of wet, black material piled on a small peninsula leased by the township. But Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board Chairman Marty Kane said the stuff - once it drains a bit - will be trucked to a farm in Sussex County.

The weed and muck removal was funded by the non-profit group. Kane said the $45,000 project will also include eight days of hydroraking at Bright’s Cove in Jefferson.

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When the foundation and Roxbury officials were mulling the hydroraking idea last year, they were not sure if they’d find a place to get rid of the material. That’s proven to be no problem, according to Kane.

Once people saw the rich, dark stuff piled on the ground, visions of thriving vegetable gardens appeared in their minds. “Its really funny,” Kane said. “Wouldn’t you know, a lot of people approached us and said, ‘Hey, where’s that really good looking black dirt going?”'

Although the muck is being trucked to the farm in Sussex County at no charge, Kane said the foundation might consider selling the material someday if it continues hydroraking. “This is the first time we did this and nobody knew what it was going to look like,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that, as time goes on, maybe there will be a market for it. If you use it for a garden, you might have to use lime for it because the plant material is pretty acidic. But that pile … it looks like you could grow tomatoes the size of basketballs in it.”

The foundation will be watching both Landing Channel and Bright’s Cove this summer to determine the effectiveness of the weed and muck removal. It wants to find out how quickly the shallow areas fill back in with weeds.

Kaqne stressed hydroraking isn't likely be feasible for weed removal in all areas.

“Hydroraking is one of several methods we’re looking at in Lake Hopatcong,” Kane said. “Just cutting the weeds isn’t working. We are looking at some alternative concepts to see how they work on the lake. It’s not going be a one-size-fits-all thing. We need a whole toolbox on how to attack the weeds on the lake.”

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