FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freedom — April 29, 2007 — State funding for milfoil control and permanent protection for Ossipee Lake Natural Area top the list of key issues in a public “state of the lake” survey conducted by Ossipee Lake Alliance from January through March.
State funding for milfoil control was cited by 63% of the respondents as “extremely important,” making it the top issue. In second place with 54% of the votes was permanent protection for the lake’s Natural Area, the 400-acre state-owned wetland containing rare plants and the remains of Native American settlements.
In other results, just over half of the respondents, 51%, said it was “extremely important” to protect wildlife on the lake, including eagles and loons. At the bottom of the list was “better communication with local elected officials,” ranked as “extremely important” by just 15% of those who completed the survey.
The survey results were announced on April 28th at the Alliance’s Lake Representatives Forum, a planning group comprised of 50 members of the lake’s business and residential communities as well as representatives from near-by ponds and rivers.
More than 200 people completed the survey in writing and online, with 80% of the respondents identifying themselves as lake property owners and 20% saying they were renters, campers or local residents who use the lake for boating and fishing.
Need for State Leadership
Alliance executive director David Smith said the survey results underscore the need for state leadership. He said 43% of the survey respondents wrote comments in addition to answering the questions, and many of them were highly critical of the state, including the lack of funding for milfoil control and DRED’s lack of management of the Natural Area, which is the largest undeveloped parcel of land on the lake.
Smith said that DRED commissioner George Bald was invited to speak at the group’s weekend forum but declined to do so and declined to send anyone in his place. Speakers who did appear represented the New Hampshire Lakes Association, the state’s Loon Preservation Committee and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
The Alliance survey also measured attitudes about boating safety, water quality and management of the lake’s water level. Smith said that when responses for “extremely important” and “very important” were combined, management of the lake’s water level tied with protection of wildlife for third place.
He said concerns about boating safety and boat traffic on the lake were surprisingly low, with fewer than one-quarter of the respondents citing boating issues as “extremely important.”
Smith said there was relatively little difference in how the issues were viewed from area to area on the lake or between lake residents and non-lake residents.
“People in areas where there is milfoil rated milfoil control somewhat higher, but we were encouraged to see that people who use the lake view the issues as important to everyone and not just important if they are in one’s proverbial back yard.”