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  • Writer's pictureKristin Guglietti

Bachalis speaks on lake & birds of Hammonton

Photo Courtesy of Kristin Guglietti HSH Honorary Trustee Bill Parkhurst, guest speaker Dan Bachalis and HSH President Greg White.

Hammonton Lake Water Quality Advisory Committee (LWQA) chairperson Dan Bachalis gave a speech about the status of the lake during the Historical Society of Hammonton (HSH) Speaker Series on Oct. 5 at the Hammonton Canoe Club. Later on, he gave a presentation on the birds of Hammonton.

LWQA member Bill Parkhurst introduced Bachalis.

“His entrance to Hammonton in my mind is memorialized by his wife’s quotation, ‘First he fell in love with me, then he fell in love with Hammonton.’ So Dan has probably set a record for the number of committees that he has served on in Hammonton. It’s just unbelievable.

Currently he’s serving chair of the environmental commission and Hammonton Lake Water Quality Committee,” Parkhurst said.

Bachalis said overall the water quality is good.

“Stockton reports that overall we’re doing well in terms of water quality, and we had that confirmed from the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife people also,” Bachalis said.

In terms of vegetation, spatterdock and bladderwort is most common.

Bachalis talked about how mushroom mycelium can be used to draw pollutants out of water.

“What Paul Stamets has found and others in his wake have found that if you grow them thickly enough and place them to intercept polluted water, it can actually draw those pollutants out of the water. The mushroom mycelium will actually soak that up and use it as their nutrients to grow further. Of course that makes them happy and it leaves us with cleaner water,” Bachalis said.

Bachalis said he hopes to use mushroom mycelium in Fowler’s Creek.

“Since Fowler’s Creek is uniformly and consistently the most polluted portion of the lake in terms of the coliform bacteria, we’re going to place it up in the further reaches of there and probably at various stages to see the affects further up and then closer to the mouth of the creek and then monitor successfully how basically whether the technique is working or not,” Bachalis said.

One thing the Lake Water Quality Advisory Committee found about coliform bacteria is that the counts peak after a rain event, but subside after a couple of days, Bachalis said.

During the presentation, Bachalis showed a graphic of the lake’s pH level. According to the graphic, some parts of the lake have a 5.7 or 6.4 pH level while other parts have a much higher pH level.

“As it proceeds up the lake you can see up by Fowler’s Creek, there’s already a spot that’s higher and as it proceeds past out from here, the Canoe Club, and up out of this lake and into the main body lake the pH values go way up,” Bachalis said.

He said near the dam the pH reading was 8.9, which is more alkaline and past the neutral point of 7.

Some possible explanations for the high pH levels found over the summer include runoff from people’s lawns and heat and the affect it has on plant life.

Bachalis said threatened and endangered species of bladderwort, purple bladderwort and humped bladderwort, was found in the lake. The DuBois Associates proposed a habitat protection area.

“Conveniently for a very Italian town, it’s the shape of a boot. Not exactly like Italy, but reminiscent,” Bachalis said.

For the second half of the presentation, Bachalis discussed the birds of Hammonton.

According to the Hammonton, N.J. Species Survey the following 29 birds have been found in town: red-winged blackbird, eastern wood peewee, great blue heron, great egret, yellow-bellied sapsucker, red-breasted nuthatch, sharp-shinned hawk, eastern bluebird, chipping sparrow, house wren, purple martin, killdeer, hermit thrush, lesser yellowlegs, greater yellowlegs, wood thrush, eastern phoebe, Baltimore oriole, golden-crowned kinglet, mallard, Carolina wren, cooper’s hawk, ring-necked pheasant, downy woodpecker, American goldfinch, northern flicker, house sparrow, ruby-throated hummingbird and white-throated sparrow.

The Species Survey can be found on iNaturalist, a free app where people can help identify any living species. The survey is a living supplement to the Town’s Natural Resource Inventory.

To date, there are 1,192 observations of 591 species by 116 observers, verified by 471 identifiers.

For more information about the presentation, email or Bachalis at


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