Permanent State Protection Next Step for Lake Natural Area

The following letter was sent to area newspapers:

To the Editor:

The Ossipee-funded botanical report has been released and the results are clear: Ossipee Lake Natural Area remains as unique as previous research has shown.

Four plant natural communities were documented in the area of the proposed beach – all of them rare and one of them not known to exist elsewhere in the state. Plus the beach area contains multiple instances of one of the state’s endangered plants. It’s a remarkable total and it’s clear there is much more to be found elsewhere in the preserve.

After years of neglect by the state agency DRED, the Natural Area has proven its resiliency. What is needed now is for area residents, elected officials and environmental groups to work together to seek the kind of permanent state protection that DRED’s own staff has been recommending for a decade.

We hope Ossipee’s selectmen will proceed with the second phase of their study. The results will provide important additional documentation of the site’s value and unique place in the community. And those studies should be the starting point for additional research – not just on plants but also on the rare wildlife and ancient settlements that are known to exist there.

We hope the new study will be a matter of pride to everyone in our area and a source of inspiration to teachers and environmental hobbyists, as was envisioned in the property’s 1969 deed restrictions requiring use of the land for education.

Ossipee Lake has more special places than any other lake in the state, and the Natural Area is its crown jewel – once again shown to be a place like nowhere else.

Please read the report on our website at www.ossipeelake.org/report and the history of the Natural Area at www.ossipeelake.org/longsands. Then join us in seeking permanent state protection for this unique property for the benefit of all. Look for an announcement soon on how you can help in this effort.

David Smith, Executive Director
Ossipee Lake Alliance
Freedom

12.5.05

Permanent State Protection Next Step for Lake Natural Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freedom – December 5, 2005 – In a letter to area newspapers, Ossipee Lake Alliance has called for elected officials, environmental groups and local residents to work together to seek permanent protection for Ossipee Lake Natural Area.

The letter is in response to the results of the Ossipee-funded scientific study of the 400-acre wetland preserve in which four natural communities were documented in the location where the town wants the state to approve a new beach. All of the natural communities are rare, and one of them is not known to exist elsewhere in the state.

In addition to the natural communities, which are recurring groupings of plants found in a specific physical environment, the researchers found multiple instances of the endangered plant species Euthamia caroliniana in and around the proposed beach area.

David Smith, the Alliance’s executive director, called the new study exciting and said he hoped the results would be a matter of pride to area residents and an inspiration to teachers and environmental hobbyists, as was envisioned in the property’s 1969 deed restrictions requiring use of the land for education.

“Ossipee Lake has more special places than any other lake in the state, and the Natural Area is its crown jewel. Once again research has shown it to be a place like nowhere else.”

The new research, which was conducted by The Nature Conservancy under the direction of the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, is one of a number of scientific studies that the state agency DRED says Ossipee must pay for before it will consider the feasibility of the town’s beach proposal. In addition to the plant study the town must fund wildlife and archeological studies if it continues to seek approval for a beach.

The report that was issued last week covers the first part of a two-part study. Researchers are expected to survey the property again in the spring and publish a final report by July. Smith said he hopes the town’s selectmen will see the project through to completion and fund the second half of the study.

“We hope Ossipee’s selectmen will proceed because the results will provide important additional documentation of the site’s value and unique place in the community.”

The Natural Area, a massive state-owned wetland that is Ossipee Lake’s largest natural buffer to development, was acquired by DRED in 1969 and immediately attracted an array of state and academic specialists who documented rare plants and ancient artifacts on the property. At the same time, the undeveloped shoreline became a magnet to boaters who congregated there to swim.

In 2003, DRED’s researchers documented the damage being caused to the Natural Area by recreation. They recommended that a restoration and preservation plan be established for the site which they designated a “hotspot,”” an environmentally significant state property that is threatened.

Smith said that the Alliance and other organizations will announce soon how people can help seek permanent state protection for the property. Meanwhile the new study is posted online at www.ossipeelake.org/report. A brief history of the Natural Area is also available at www.ossipeelake.org/longsands.

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