-The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers from the New England district, met with members of the local Army Corp regional office at the Hideout, Thursday, to discuss lake and watershed management projects that the Hideout has implemented to enhance both environmental and recreational aspects of the watersheds.
The Hideout is working with Princeton Hydro on their projects. According to its website, "Princeton Hydro was formed in 1998. The specific mission of the company's founders, Dr. Stephen Souza, Mark Gallagher, Geoffrey Goll and Dr. Fred Lubnow, was to pool their extensive project experience and technical proficiency to create a company committed to providing unparalleled ecological and engineering consulting services."
The Hideout is supplementing various management projects to maintain its lakes, thus creating a better environment for its residents and visitors. One of these projects is the floating island, a mass of floating aquatic plants, mud, and peat ranging in thickness from a few inches to several feet.
Floating islands mimic nature and help improve water quality and buffer habitats against surges in nutrients and pollution. They also help reduce phosphorus levels.
"We have two floating islands on Brook's Lake and three on Deerfield Lake," says John Gigliotti, Environmental Asset Manager. "We've had the islands since 2010. Floating islands are effective in creating a nice habitat and they have incredible surface area. They can last between 10 and 15 years."
"It's a way of sequestering nutrients," says Dr. Fred Lubnow, Director of Aquatic Programs. "About 80 percent of the nutrient uptake comes from microbs and about 20 percent comes from plant material. A 250 square foot island can remove about 10 pounds of phosphorus. It may not seem like a lot, but every one pound of phosphorus has the potential to create 1,100 pounds of algae goo."
Gigliotti says they don't want to remove all vegetation.
"We're leaving a balance," he says. "We are trying to meet environmental and recreational needs."
In Brook's Lake they have put in 30 hybrid striped bass to help reduce the amount of algae.
"It's a way of manipulating the chain without using chemicals," says Lubnow.
The hybrid striped bass eat the smaller fish, who eat the zooplankton. The zooplankton eat the algae and the less amount of zooplankton there are, the higher the risk for more algae.
"We've implemented a variety of techniques," says Gigliotti. "Our three main objectives are for the ecological value, recreational usage and the economic value. We are maintaining the ability that people will want to come to the Hideout. We're proud of what we're doing."
One of the major projects they are hoping to start in the future is called the Track 29 enhancement project..
The project consists of creating a flood plain to deter all nutrients from going into Roamingwood Lake, the largest in the Hideout.
Page 2 of 2 - The idea isn't to prevent any nutrients from going into that lake. Rather, it is intended to spread the nutrients to other places as well.
"Water from Lake Wallenpaupack currently flows in a straight line," says Lubnow. "It's making it harder to spread the nutrients around. Creating a flood plain will naturally filter the water through the watershed and vegetation will suck up more of the nutrients."
He says it will also reduce levels of phosphorus and will ensure the water stays healthy.
"Roamingwood Lake is 225 acres," says Gigliotti. "It would be a much greater cost to try and get back the lake if something happened to it. This project will allow water to slowly filter and lower the nutrient level going to one spot."
Gigliotti says track 29 would cover five acres of the 12 acre section. If they are able to get more funds, they will try to extend that, as well as putting additional plants along the edges.
"This would be a two year project because of budget reasons," says Gigliotti. "It would also supplement an existing project."
He says they are using a quarter million dollars of their own money to do this. He explains they have to be able to match at least 15 percent for some additional funds. They are currently trying to get money from the growing green program.
"We are doing what we can to maintain the watershed," says Lubnow. "We are enhancing the environmental and recreational aspects in the Hideout, while indirectly helping other watersheds that flow into ours."
"We are excited that we can start projects like this," says Gigliotti. "I'm glad we are starting to get some recognition for our efforts. If we maintain the lakes, it also helps keep property values up."
George Claflin and Mike Penko were the Army Corp of Engineers of the New England district representatives.