Ossipee — June 15, 2010 — State officials will visit Ossipee Lake on Tuesday, June 22, to get a closer look at evidence local officials believe supports their contention the natural mean high water mark for the lake is set too high.
The day will start with a boat tour of an underwater grave site and a sunken abutment of a bridge that once crossed the big lake outlet near Pequawket Trail, according to Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow.
Jim Gallagher of the State’s Dam Bureau will later lead the group in a visit to the Ossipee River Dam, which has controlled the level of the lake since the 1800s.
Representatives from DES and the State Attorney General’s Office are scheduled to join Ossipee and Freedom Selectmen for the day-long event, along with State Representative Mark McConkey and Bob Reynolds of Ossipee Lake Alliance.
After the site visits, the group will meet in Ossipee Town Hall to discuss the findings and consider next steps.
By law, the State owns the lake and shoreline to the natural mean high water mark, which DES says is 410 feet above sea level, or about three feet higher than the lake’s summer level. Local officials and Ossipee Lake Alliance believe 410 feet is too high, and point out the State has no data to sustain its claim.
A recent Ossipee Lake Alliance survey showed the State owns at least a dozen lake properties, including homes, based on the 410 Rule. Twenty septic systems are also thought to be on State-owned land.
In an email message, Selectman Merrow cautioned that the State officials are unlikely to make any immediate decisions based on the site visit, and added that the process will likely continue into the summer.
“We will wait to hear from DES and then determine what will happen next,” Merrow said.
Local officials have previously said the issue may have to be resolved through legislation or legal action.
Merrow said the group’s meeting at Town Hall after the site visits will be open to the public.