Freedom – December 28, 2011 – The year 2011 will be remembered on the lake for a political process that worked for the benefit of all. In August, the hot-button issue of how much Ossipee Lake shoreline is owned by the State was resolved when Governor Lynch signed legislation legally granting lake residents something they thought they already had – ownership of their shorefront above the 407.25 ft. level. From start to finish, the two-year deliberation over the obscure but devastating “410 Rule” was civilized, and the political process was smoothly managed by all hands.
All of which sets the stage for the next issue. In June the Alliance released a study it commissioned showing the State paid just 12 percent of the cost of controlling milfoil in its infested lakes in 2010. Lake towns like Freedom, Ossipee and Effingham paid the rest. Worse, half of New Hampshire’s milfoil-infested lakes have no control plan at all. Given the economic and environmental stakes, the Legislature’s lack of a long-term milfoil control plan is an issue that can no longer be ducked.
In September, N.H. Fish and Game held a meeting in Ossipee to present preliminary plans to improve boat access to the lake by substantially upgrading the public ramp on Route 25, whose management it inherited from DRED several years ago. The Select Boards of Ossipee and Freedom, and the Ossipee Conservation Commission, lost no time in asking the agency to fund a milfoil prevention program at the site as part of its detailed final plan, which will be presented in the New Year.
You didn’t have to be a long-time lake resident with a memory of the devastating 1947 fire to be alarmed when an arsonist began stalking the area from Madison to Freedom, including the near-by Ossipee Pine Barrens. A house fire on Leavitt Bay further set nerves on edge but proved to be accidental. Then, after an arrest in September, the fires stopped.
Eagles appear to be back on the lake to stay if the number of pictures posted on the Alliance’s Facebook page is any indication. Thanks to local photographers like John Rowe, you can check out these majestic creatures at www.facebook.com/ossipeelake. In a Conway Sun article, reporter Daymond Steer noted that Ossipee Lake is stocked with landlocked salmon. Who knew? They can be fished and kept from April through September, per state regulations.
The lake’s loon nests were unproductive this year, but numerous volunteers kept an eye on nesting sites and stayed in close touch with biologists at the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough. Sadly, bat populations continued to be decimated by a fungus, prompting State officials to say crops and forests are in harm’s way due to increased insect populations.
The lake was largely spared damage from Hurricane Irene, which devastated Vermont and parts of New Hampshire to our north, but we experienced a surprisingly heavy snowstorm in October. The fact that trees were still in leaf created a disaster elsewhere in New England, but once again our area lucked out.
As we complete this article, Broad Bay’s Bob Smart reports warmer than normal temperatures and little ice on the lake. But stick around, as the old adage goes.
Happy New Year to all, and it’s on to 2012…