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The LGA's Emily DeBolt and Mona Seeger with Jessica Murphy and Donna Macalle-Holly of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation aboard the LGA's Floating Classroom.

New Jersey Lake Group Looks to LGA for Guidance

By Buzz Lamb

Friday, October 4, 2013

On Friday, Sept. 20 three people from northern New Jersey drove to Lake George to meet with the staff of the Lake George Association (LGA).  Jessica Murphy, president of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, along with Donna Macalle-Holly and Marty Kane made the trip to learn more about the LGA’s lake-saving initiatives.

The newly formed Lake Hopatcong Foundation is an example of a private non-profit group that was formed after the budget ran dry for the state-funded Lake Hopatcong Commission in 2012.  According to Murphy, there was no one looking out for the lake which straddles four towns and two counties.

According to the Lake Hopatcong News, the founding of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation came in response to the failure of the Lake Hopatcong Commission to receive state funding.  As a result of the lack of funding, the sole position at the Commission for administrator Donna Macalle-Holly was terminated in December 2012.

In an effort to keep Macalle-Holly as a valuable resource for the lake and to seek grant funding for Lake Hopatcong the Foundation hired her as a full-time grants administration in January of 2013.  Macalle-Holly came to the LGA to learn about programs and funding.

LGA Executive Director Walt Lender said the group spent time at the LGA office discussing invasive species.  “The reason they came to us is because everybody in their area always refers to Lake George as a model,” he said.  “People told them they could learn from our experience…and that’s what they did…they came to Lake George for answers.”

“There was a little bit of back and forth as well,” Lender said.  “They have got some invasives there and they have some issues about funding their programs…for the most part they were learning from us,” he said.

Lender said the conversation also focuses on regulations.  “We had Joe Thouin from the Park Commission at our office as well.  He explained how the Commission’s regulation work and the direction the Park Commission is going with required (boat) inspections,” he said.

Lender invited the Foundation members to experience Lake George first-hand on the LGA’s Floating Classroom.  The 45-minute tour included stops at Cramer Point, Diamond Island and Dark Bay.  Foundation board member Kane noted similarities between the two lakes.  “We have several historic homes along the shoreline.  Even one named Rockledge,” he said as the Floating Classroom navigated north of Tea Island.

According to Lender, following the boat tour the group traveled to Norowal Marina in Bolton Landing to watch the Park Commission boat wash station in action.  “They said their heads were spinning with so much information.  They were very excited to go back to the rest of their group to tell them what they learned,” Lender said.

Lender anticipates the Lake Hopatcong Foundation will contact the LGA in the future.  “They’ll probably have some follow-up questions after all this information gets a chance to gel,” he said.  “They really like the educational programs the LGA is doing.  They were especially impressed with the Floating Classroom.”

Lender said the trio found it interesting that the two non-profit groups had similar challenges.  “Projects involving government regulators and non-profit organizations require painstaking efforts,” he said.  “The Foundation members were very appreciative and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

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