The lake has two main sections, connected by a strait. The lake is an impoundment of the Rockaway River. There are also two ponds. There is an island in the north lake called Snake Island. A smaller island, Turtle Island, is indistinguishable from the shoreline at this time.
The lake has two man-made dams, one for each section of the lake. The south dam has a spillway and valve, the north dam has a large valve and overflow spillway. The dams were both rehabilitated in 1998 from the original Ringling-era fieldstone and concrete construction.
Planning is currently underway to upgrade the south dam to meet NJDEP Dam Safety & Flood Control requirements. This is as a direct result of an unusual meteorological event, the August 2000 storm. This storm arrived and did not move for over a day, dumping 14 inches (official measurement, independent estimates say 16+ inches) of rain to a restricted area. The resultant flooding caused the main thoroughfare Berkshire Valley Road to become inundated, but did not cause either dam to fail. Excessive overflow caused some undermining of the dam structure which needs to be corrected. The lake is currently under orders of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to maintain a water level of no greater than two and no less than three feet below spillway until the fix has been completed.
Due to the large watershed, the lake both enjoys and is cursed with a high flow-through rate. The water in the lake is replaced approximately every 30–45 days. This allows for water refreshment, but makes aquatic weed treatment more challenging.
- BAT: Bats have a reputation as being spooky or even dangerous, but they are actually some of the most beneficial animals to people. Learn more here.
- BEAVER: Have you seen them swimming across the lake? Have you heard them do their tail slap when your boat gets close? Have they taken out some trees or branches from the lakefront near you? Learn more here.
- BLACK BEAR: Learn about living with Black Bears here and here.
- MUSKRAT: They're the ones who are leaving all the empty mussel shells under your rowboat, because beavers are strictly vegetarian. Learn more here.
- VIRGINIA OPOSSUM: North America's only marsupial! Learn more here.
- BLUEBIRD: These cheery little birds brighten up any yard. Learn more here.
- SWANS: Learn more here.
- DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT: You may see these expert fishers diving for their meal or sitting on a log with their wings outstretched to dry out. Learn more here.
- RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD: You've probably heard these birds before- their calls are very distinct. Learn more here.
- SWAN: A graceful visitor to the lake. But don't let appearances fool you - they can be aggressive! Learn more here.
INSECTS AND REPTILES!
- What's That Blob-Like Planty Thing? It belongs in the Flora category. The lake provides an ideal environment for BRYOZOA - a fresh water moss animal related to jellyfish. In the world, there are only 50 of these species that inhabit freshwater. We are one of a few lakes located east of the Mississippi where this species thrives. The species we have in Lake Swannanoa is Pectinatella Magnifica. This variety is an indicator of water purity. It thrives in our lake and cleanses the water.
- TREES: What Tree Is That?
- NATIVE PLANTS: The Native Plant Society of New Jersey can help you identify local flora.
- INVASIVE PLANTS: These intruders harm the ecology of the local environment. If you find them, feel free to remove them from our habitat.