Story by Shelley R. Clapper
During public comment at the Greenwood Lake Commission meeting on Wed., Jul. 25, local residents voiced their concerns over the Commission’s recent lethal goose reduction project.
Michele Shenker, who lives near the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park in Greenwood Lake said that she had witnessed the recent round-up of the geese and it was heartbreaking. Shenker said that she realizes that the geese are a nuisance. She has researched alternative methods of reducing the geese population such as geese ova control and the use of goose poop machines.
Co-chair of the Commission Paul Zarrillo responded that the Commission had looked into other methods such as oiling the eggs, hunting and dogs.
Shenker added that she was concerned that the public did not know about the project in advance and asked if the next meeting could be a public meeting. Zarrillo informed her that all Commission meetings are open to the public.
“Many of these alternatives are good but do not work on a nine mile lake. We are mandated by law to keep the lake clean,” said Zarrillo.
Another local resident, Barbara Aarons, voiced her opinion that there should be more transparency by the Commission and that the decision to round up the geese had not been highly publicized. She does not want to be “a watchdog over a watchdog.”
“It is the way you went around it,” said another local resident, Jan Dearing.
Commission’s Treasurer Dale Van Nimwegen said, “The goose control program was discussed at a few meetings. It was not hidden by the Commission. It was a matter of public record. So you cannot say that it was not transparent.”
After the discussion, the Van Nimwegen provided the financial report. She said that there was a little over $114,000 in the Commission’s bank accounts.
Algae Biodiversity Presentation
Dr. Meiyin Wu and Yartiza Acosta from Montclair University gave a presentation on the New Jersey Algae Biodiversity Project. Acosta said that algae are important to the ecosystem. An algal bloom is a rapid increase in the population of algae in an aquatic system and a major environmental problem as it has a toxic effect on people, fish and birds.
Dr. Wu said that higher temperatures and elevated phosphorus levels are creating a longer algae season.
“The algal blooms are extending further into November and December,” said Wu.
Acosta provided a chart showing the human symptoms when exposed to the various organisms. Cyanobacteria from algae produce toxic microcystins. Microcystins have been known to cause diarrhea, vomiting, goose bumps, weakness, liver toxicity, and hemorrhaging.
Microcystins were found near a Greenwood Lake marina in 2015. Acosta explained that the New Jersey Health Advisory recommends that there be no more than three micrograms of microcystins per liter for recreational exposure.
Another toxin found in the lake in a 2017 study was anabaena. Anabaena is another algae toxin that can cause liver and neurological damage. Dr. Wu said that in the future the university suggests a donation of $500 for each sample/site taken in order to cover the costs of supplies and labor. She explained that in the past the Commission had not been charged as tuition paid for the supplies.
Zarrillo requested that Dr. Wu put together a report on the amount of sites to be investigated. A member of the public asked if the use of herbicides in the lake can cause an increase in the algae. Dr. Wu replied that the dead plant material can cause an increase in the amount of algae.
At the end of the presentation co-chair Zarrillo said, “It was a pleasure to have Montclair University. They are coming back on Sat., Oct. 6 to take students out to do lake studies.”
Zarrillo expressed his hope that members of the Commission would help out by providing boats.
Watershed Implementation Plan
A second presentation was provided by Dr. Fred Lubnow from Princeton Hydro on the Watershed Implementation Plan. Dr. Lubnow said that the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have developed the Watershed Implementation Plan. He said that the State of New Jersey has put aside $90,000 for Greenwood Lake for this plan.
The goal of the plan is to improve the water quality in the lake, which will include phosphorus monitoring. Lubnow said that the plan would include comparing water samples taken now with those taken in 2004 and 2005 during the last plan.
They will reassess storm water projects done in 2005 and also identify watershed projects for the future. Although the majority of the monitoring will be done in the New Jersey side of the lake, there will also be monitoring in the New York end of the lake.
“In the last study we surveyed a lot of areas for storm water. Belcher’s Creek is the largest source of phosphorus coming into the lake. I want to reduce the nutrient load in Belcher’s Creek as well as monitor the watershed,” said Lubnow.
When asked about a timeline by Zarrillo, Lubnow responded, “It could be initiated this year. I will be submitting a report to the Commission and Council tomorrow. You have an excellent chance of getting it.”
The next meeting of the G.L. Commission will be held on Wed., Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at the G.L. Senior Center, located at 132 Windermere Ave. in Greenwood Lake. For more information call the Commission at (973) 506-7800, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gwlc.org.