Rep. Tom Kean Jr., R-7, joined the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Lake Hopatcong Commission, Musconetcong Watershed Association, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service on a recent boat tour of Lake Hopatcong.
The trip was meant to showcase federal and state investments in environmental restoration that are under way in the congressional district.
Lake Hopatcong is a headwater to the Musconetcong River, which is New Jersey’s largest tributary to the Delaware River.
To date, the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has awarded $40.4 million to 159 projects, which have generated $59.7 million in match funding, for a total conservation impact of $100.1 million.
Eighteen projects are located in the 7th district for a total of $4.89 million of conservation impact. The district includes all of Hunterdon and Warren counties and parts of Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Union counties. The Sussex County towns in the district are Andover Borough, Byram, Fredon, Green Township, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta, Stanhope, Stillwater and Walpack.
”It was great to be on Lake Hopatcong and see the tangible results of collaborative efforts to preserve and restore the Delaware River Watershed,” Kean said. “Our tour underscored the invaluable impact that the investments made through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund are for clean water projects, reducing sediment and improving water quality.
“I will continue fighting for partnerships like these, as we can ensure a thriving environment for our communities and a sustainable foundation for economic growth.”
Kyle Richter, executive director of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, said the funding provided by the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund is crucial for clean water projects on Lake Hopatcong.
“We are currently collaborating with the Lake Hopatcong Commission on three projects to reduce the influx of sediment and nutrients into the lake. These projects are expected to prevent around 1.4 million pounds of sediment and 240 pounds of phosphorus from entering the lake each year, improving water quality and reducing harmful algal blooms (HABs).”
Kyla Hastie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting Northeast regional director, said the fund has helped to build momentum on conservation projects. “This partnership guides us toward common goals, helps us target conservation to reach those goals and most importantly, challenges us to continue to support the watershed.”
Tom Dallessio, executive director of the Musconetcong Watershed Association, thanked Kean for his leadership in protecting and restoring the region’s natural resources.
“Both Lake Hopatcong and the downstream Musconetcong National Wild and Scenic River are critical for the region’s recreational economy and habitat protection. Public-private partnerships and comprehensive watershed planning efforts, like those catalyzed by the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, are critical to maintaining and improving water quality.”
Kelly Knutson, director for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, also thanked Kean.
“The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund contributes to long-term outcomes for equitable access to nature, resiliency, healthy habitat and a thriving outdoor economy. Increasing nonprofits and local government’s ability for on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects will significantly benefit those who rely on this river for their drinking water.”
The Delaware River Watershed serves as a lifeline for 3.1 million people in New Jersey, playing a vital role in supplying drinking water, sustaining diverse ecosystems and offering abundant recreational opportunities. It also contributes billions of dollars to the local economy through thriving sectors, such as tourism, recreation, agriculture and various industries.