Freedom – June 13, 2008 – The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) said yesterday it will announce a management plan for Ossipee Lake Natural Area next week. In a brief press release yesterday, the state agency said the proposed plan will be posted on the Division of Forests and Lands website (www.nhdfl.org) on Wednesday June 18, and will be presented to the public at a meeting on Friday June 27 at Ossipee Town Hall from 3-6 p.m.
Last August the agency temporarily closed public access to a majority of the shoreline for the protection and restoration of the rare and endangered plants and natural communities that have been damaged or destroyed by years of recreation by boaters. In a statement at the time, the agency said it would have a management plan for the property in place by this summer.
For years the Natural Area property, known to long-time residents as Long Sands or Lone Pine, has been caught in a tug of war between those who want to develop it a beach and those who want to see it protected as a unique natural resource.
Boaters have used the property’s sandy shoreline since the 1950s, growing from small groups of people to crowds that now number in the thousands during summer holidays, including organized parties and events that have alienated many long-time rafters at the site as well as near-by property owners. Studies by DRED and other agencies during the past two decades have documented the damage caused by recreation and the threat that the crowds pose to the remains of ancient human settlements at the site.
Heeding calls from local and regional groups, including Ossipee Lake Alliance, to stem the damage and create a management plan balancing preservation with low impact recreation, DRED last May held a public meeting to air all sides of the issue, resulting in most of the shoreline being closed and posted with signs in August.
Marine Patrol officials subsequently reported that most boaters complied with the new rules by recreating from their boats instead of on the shoreline. DRED removed its signs from the shoreline last month, but says last year’s rules remain in place while new signs are being made.