On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette kicked off his three-day tour called “Operation Jersey Summer” with his first stop being Lake Hopatcong to talk about the significant progress the DEP is making to address the impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms in New Jersey’s lakes and rivers.
During the brief press conference, we heard from the DEP Commissioner, Senators, House Representative, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Mayors, with other major stakeholders in attendance that are dedicated to preserving Lake Hopatcong as the gem of New Jersey. Together the entire group of attendees represented the all aspects of Guardians of Lake Hopatcong.
After the Press Conference, the Key Stakeholders took a cruise oo Lake Hopatcong in the LHF Floating Classroom to talk strategically on key issues and next steps.
Marty Kane, chairman of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board of Trustees
Marty Kane helped MC the Press Conference and stated off thanked Kerry Kirk-Pflugh, DEP Local Government Assistance for her 10 years of assistance, stating “She has always been honest with us, while it may not always be the message we want to hear. We all know she is truthful and straightforward with us.”
Marty also thanked the Commissioner for coming, stating that it has been over 15 years since a Commissioner visited when there was not a crisis. And hoped that this is the start of a new trend, pointing out that Lake Hopatcong is one of the State’s greatest resources.
Marty continued as he thanked the Mayors for the formation of the Monthly Mayors meeting, and the work that they have helped achieve.
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11)
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill thanked everyone for being here today to support Lake Hopatcong from all areas of government. “I’d like to give a special shout out to Hopatcong Mayor Michael Francis who has taken over Crescent Cove to run an experimental HABs project.”
“Since my early days in office, I’ve been fighting to ensure Lake Hopatcong and all our lakes in New Jersey are cared for and harmful algae blooms are addressed,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11).
“I talk to members across the country, and I don’t think there are stronger and more passionate advocates than there are right here. Thank you everyone in attendance for what you have accomplished.”
The Congresswoman also spoke as to the work going on within the Government and Army Core of Engineers to address HABs.
Acting NJ DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette
“It’s a beautiful day on the lakeshore, this is truly an outstanding place… I remember coming here with my parents when I was a kid, so when I saw the HABs hit in 2019, it hit me in my heart. We have to do all we can to protect it.”
“I’m thankful for the partners we have across this space today, and for the incredible work that has been done.”
“We are placing special priority on ensuring that we are better protecting our watersheds… How we develop, how we conserve, how we manage land and the water that runs off of it, all of that impacts the waterways. That is how we can manage resources like this, and it takes all of us working together… How we take care of this place is how we take care of each other.”
Senator Anthony Bucco, 25th Legislative District
“If you look behind me, what a beautiful sight, but we know from experience that just doesn’t happen as it takes the Lake Commission and Foundation. County Commissioners, DEP, and the Mayors all working together to make this lake as beautiful as it is, and to stay as beautiful in the future.”
Senator Steve Oroho, 24th Legislative District
Outlined projects underway, such legislation that has already passed Committee for $10 Million for Lake Management, Lake Hopatcong, and Greenwood Lake are targeted to get a good chunk of the money.
“Having the Commissioner come here in person to see things first hand is so important.”
Roxbury Township Mayor Robert DeFillippo
“For those of us that care about the lake, there is much to celebrate today. By connecting the State Park to the Roxbury Sewer system is one of the most significant steps we have taken in the lake community in restoring and preserving Lake Hopatcong. Thank you all for making this happen today.”
Borough of Hopatcong Mayor Michael Francis
“Our lake is our jewel and what we are looking for is leadership, and that’s what we are looking forward to… It’s refreshing that the Commissioner came up to our lake, it’s important and it shows me that we are not alone.”
“This is a State lake and I expect that the State takes responsibility for it, and lately I see more care than before, which is encouraging.”
“I’m always coming up with new and different approaches, I’ll challenge you, and I’ll continue to challenge you, so I’ll give the Commissioner a heads-up that I have some ideas to discuss.”
“If we continue to do the same thing and expect different results, that’s just not going to work.”
Jefferson Township Mayor Eric F. Wilsusen
“It shows that Lake Hopatcong is becoming a concern for the State... It was a scary time in 2019 when the HABs hit… As the lake is an economic resource for this region, we watched out lake go barren and nobody was on the lake, over time we had to convince them to come back.”
“That’s scary for a local elected official to have local business coming to you and saying, What can we do?”
“I’d like to thank the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and Commission for getting the monthly Mayor’s meeting together two years ago, we meet regularly and I think that is making great progress for Lake Hopatcong and doing great things.”
“We look forward to a great summer… Our businesses deserve it”
“Vax and Visit’ Campaign - Free access to New Jersey’s 51 state parks
Governor Phil Murphy recently announced several new vaccination incentives as part of “Operation Jersey Summer,” a statewide public awareness campaign aimed at vaccinating New Jersey residents who live, work or study in the state against COVID-19. The new incentives include a State Parks Vax Pass, providing free access to New Jersey’s 51 state parks and facilities including Island Beach State Park.
Beginning Thursday, May 27, the DEP will offer a free State Parks Vax Pass under the new ‘Vax and Visit’ campaign to all New Jersey residents who receive at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccination by July 4, 2021. The State Parks Vax Pass, which will be of the same value as the Annual State Parks Pass, will allow free access to all state parks and forest facilities that charge daily walk-in or parking fees, from May 27 through Dec. 31, 2021. The DEP will also provide refunds to residents who already purchased Annual State Park Passes this year and have been fully vaccinated.
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