DRED Must Lead

The following letter was sent to area newspapers:

To the Editor:

This week Ossipee Lake Alliance announced the results of our “state of the lake” survey summarizing the opinions of lake property owners, renters, campers and local residents who fish and boat there.

Topping the list of critical issues was state funding for milfoil control, which was not a surprise. Ranked right behind it, however, with strong support from all quarters, was permanent protection for the Natural Area at Long Sands.

The state agency DRED is responsible for the Natural Area, and it is a measure of its ineffectiveness that concern over the property’s future has spread beyond abutting property owners to encompass the rest of the lake and beyond.

We continue to propose the common sense solution that boaters be restricted to the water and kept away from the shoreline. That would allow the damaged plant communities to recover while a policy can be written to accommodate public access for low impact education-focused recreation. That would also stop the illegal fires, camping, and drinking parties that have created the public nuisance.

We know there is support for such a solution among many of the boaters who congregate there for water sports. Yet DRED has not demonstrated that it can get such a plan on the table, let alone gain the support of Marine Patrol and Fish & Game to make it work. Sharing the blame is Representative Merrow, whose contributions to the public debate have been threats to legislate a public beach and insinuations that state specialists have exaggerated the property’s environmental and historic value.

Meanwhile, DRED talk has been substituted for DRED action. In fact, more talk is scheduled for this weekend at a meeting seeking “public input” even though DRED already has extensive oral and written testimony provided by boaters, fishermen, politicians, archeologists, abutting property owners, environmentalists and beach advocates from public meetings and private sessions spanning a decade. DRED does not need more “input.” It needs to make a decision and take action, enlisting the governor’s help if needed.

Our survey results show that the public wants the Natural Area permanently protected, and our discussions with boaters suggest the common sense solution we have proposed will work. If you attend this weekend’s “public input” session, please tell DRED you agree with us. Tell them it is time to stop asking for opinions and time to implement a plan. Memorial Day is right around the corner.

David L. Smith, Executive Director
Ossipee Lake Alliance

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