By Mike Steele
Princeton’s Lake Carnegie, which is part of the Millstone River, is home to many plants and animals, and the presence of these life forms can tell us a great deal about the quality of the water.
On Saturday, August 4th from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM, The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association will host a paddle trip for local residents who are interesting in discovering the different forms of wildlife that reside on the lake. Participants will learn about the connections between animal life and water pollution.
The trip will be led by Naturalist Jeff Hoagland, Education Director of the watershed.
“What I really want to do is get people to understand the lake as a home for other creatures,” he said. “We want this to be an educational experience.”
These “creatures” include a wide variety of aquatic wildlife, such as turtles, minnows, and crayfish. Participants will have the opportunity to catch and study their own specimens.
Also living near the lake are several different types of waterfowl, including great blue herons, green herons, and swallows.
“Residents may already be familiar with swallows but on this trip, they’ll get to see them up close,” Hoagland said. “A highlight of the trip could be spotting a bald eagle. They are at nest nearby.”
Participants will also spend time observing the different types of insects that live on the lake.
“Insect life will indicate the quality of the water in that system,” Hoagland said. “Some insects are intolerant of pollution.”
The habitation of mayflies and caddisflies, for example, will suggest that the organic pollution levels of the lake are relatively low.
Hoagland expects both species will be present, and that participants will also see dragonflies and damselflies hunting along the edges of the lake.
Participants will have the opportunity to choose whether they wish to paddle a canoe or kayak, and Hoagland will help groups and individuals decide which mode of transportation will be easiest to maneuver.
He does not want prospective participants to be deterred by the fact that they will have to paddle their own boats, as the speed will be slow and leisurely.
“This trip is geared towards folks who want a relaxed exploration of wildlife experience,” he said.
Hoagland is excited to showcase Lake Carnegie and its inhabitants to those who attend the trip and is proud that the watershed works so hard to preserve the quality of the water.
“I see this trip as a celebration of the lake. We’re lucky where we live that we have clean water,” he said.
The Lake Carnegie Paddle is appropriate for individual adults, small groups, and families with children ages eight and older. Registration if required and space is limited. Canoes and kayaks will be provided by Griggstown Canoe and Kayak Rental in Turning Basin Park. The fee per person will range from $25-$50, depending on the watercraft chosen. For more information or to register, contact the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Phone: (609) 737-7592. On the Web: thewatershed.org.