Invasive plant and shellfish species are a potential problem for our lakes. These are most often introduced by human intervention. To reduce the accidental introduction of non-natives there are simple steps one can take. Clean your boat and trailer after boating on other water bodies because once a hitchhiker is introduced it can establish quickly since there are no predators to control the population. Invasive species can rapidly fill shallow areas and make swimming and boating difficult.
In northern New Jersey, we have several invasive aquatic plants. Of particular concern is Water Chestnut. This aggressive plant forms dense mats, making boating, fishing and swimming nearly impossible. One acre of Water Chestnut can produce enough seeds to cover 100 acres the following year, so early detection is the key to Water Chestnut control. Smaller populations are easier to eliminate than larger ones. It also costs less to control a small infestation because plants can be individually hand-pulled. Water Chestnut has been found in Lake Musconetcong and Swartswood Lake. In June 2019 water chestnut was found in Upper Lake Mohawk.
Eurasian watermilfoil is found in Lake Hopatcong and is commonly responsible for “floating mats” seen on that lake. Curly-leaf pondweed, another invasive species, is also found in Lake Hopatcong. Hydrilla is a weed found in the Southeastern U.S.-attributed to aquariums. Hydrilla is difficult to manage and every effort should be made to keep it out of our lakes.
Zebra Mussels are considered the most devastating aquatic species to invade North American lakes. These freshwater mollusks attach to solid objects like dock pilings, boat hulls, and rocks. They foul and damage beaches and docks. They deplete lakes of desirable algae and promote the growth of harmful algae blooms. They alter and diminish plankton, causing reduced fish stock. Zebra Mussels look like small clams with a yellowish or brownish “D”-shaped shell, usually with alternating dark and light-colored stripes. They can be up to two inches long, but most are under an inch. Any sighting should be reported immediately to LMCC!
So, love your lakes and never, ever move fish from one body of water to another. Don’t dump fish tanks into our waters. Remove all debris from your boats, motors and trailers before leaving where you’ve been boating. Before putting your boat- including kayaks and paddleboards- back into Lake Mohawk, clean it (and trailer) with a mild bleach solution. After cleaning, allow boats, trailers and other equipment to dry fully in the sun for four to six hours.
If you do recognize harmful plants or mollusks in one of our lakes, call the manager and let them know where you found them. Help keep our lakes free of harmful species.