Ongoing efforts to conserve and restore Lake Hopatcong received a boost today from a grant of almost $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
Sen. Anthony M. Bucco noted a significant grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for important projects to protect the Upper Musconetcong River Watershed is a testimony to local efforts to restore waterways and Lake Hopatcong. (Pixabay)
The grant, announced this morning, was provided through the NFWF’s Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund to the Lake Hopatcong Commission in partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation for crucial projects in the Upper Musconetcong River Watershed.
“This is great news for residents who live near the lake, visitors who travel here for vacations and recreation, and the hard-working local and state officials who have fought for years to protect these invaluable waters,” said Senator Anthony M. Bucco. “The infusion of NFWF grants and local in-kind matching funds will total close to $1 million to help improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation around Lake Hopatcong.”
The NFWF grant of $480,650 announced today is complemented by more than $489,000 from the Lake Hopatcong Commission, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Borough of Hopatcong, Township of Roxbury, Borough of Mount Arlington, Morris and Sussex Counties, the Musconetcong Watershed Association, Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum, Rutgers University, the NJ Highland’s Council and Princeton Hydro.
“I am proud of the commitment demonstrated at every level of government and by so many in the public and private sectors to address these important concerns,” Bucco said. “Our tireless resolve to raise awareness of environmental issues that threaten Lake Hopatcong and the need to dedicate resources and funding to protect the lake and surrounding waterways has made a difference. This grant is recognition of the success of our efforts,” Bucco continued. “The groundwork we laid over many years has made this possible.”
New Jersey’s largest lake, Hopatcong has been battered by environmental challenges in recent years.
For more than a decade, non-native weeds have invaded and thrived beneath the water, interfering with economically crucial recreational boating and fishing. And in 2019, after a massive bloom of blue-green algae, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection closed Lake Hopatcong on June 27, shutting down its beaches and warning against any contact with the water.
“The lake is vital to the northwest portion of our state. Lake-related tourism is a lynchpin for the local economy, and its ecological and environmental impact on the entire area is compelling,” said Bucco, who, as a member of the Assembly, was a prime sponsor of legislation creating the Lake Hopatcong Fund that was signed by Gov. Christie in January 2018.
“An investment in protecting the local watershed and maintaining a vibrant lake ecosystem is an investment in the health of New Jersey residents,” Bucco said. “Projects like those that will be financed by money from the NFWF grant will help ensure clear, safe water and a robust local economy for many years to come.”
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