[The following was sent to area newspapers]
To the Editor: Thanks to leadership from the state and an unprecedented cooperative effort between boaters, environmentalists and business leaders, there will be a major test next summer to see if recreation and preservation can co-exist at Ossipee Lake Natural Area.
In November, DRED held the first meeting of the 17-member Natural Area Working Group, a panel headed by DRED administrator Don Kent that will advise the agency on management issues ranging from water quality to swimmer safety.
Kent set the tone by saying all eyes in the state are on the project, and by challenging members to set aside past differences and focus on the future.
A spirit of cooperation was evident from the first vote, after the group found common ground on the question of shifting the public use portion of the shoreline toward the west. Boaters said they would get a deeper sandy area of shoreline for passive recreation; environmentalists felt there would be a potentially larger gain in rare plant restoration; and adjacent property owners said the change would create an additional land buffer.
This is the kind of balance of competing interests that we envisioned four years ago when we began pressing the state to bring all parties to the table. We’re grateful to DRED, and to Don Kent in particular, for making a great start to the process, which will continue through the winter.
You can follow the progress of the Working Group on our website. The first meeting is summarized at https://www.ossipeelake.org/news/2008/11/16/natural-area-working-group-settles-in/, an article that also contains a link to the presentation DRED made at the meeting on what makes the Natural Area unique.
David L. Smith, Executive Director
Ossipee Lake Alliance