Ossipee—September 1, 2015—Missing signs, cut fences, garbage, and human feces are evidence of trespassing and vandalism at the Short Sands section of Ossipee Lake Natural Area, according to state authorities.
Trespassers at the site also destroyed plants by pulling them out of the sand. Whether the destroyed plants are among the rare and threatened species that make the Natural Area unique will be determined by a state survey to be conducted in the fall.
This is the second time Short Sands has been vandalized this summer. Damage reported in June—including a cut fence and missing signs and posts—was repaired by DRED rangers on July 17. Less than two weeks later the fence was cut again and the posts and signs were reported missing.
Short Sands, a section of the Natural Area that is closed to the public, has for several years been the focus of a group of boaters who want the state to open it for public use. The state has rejected their request as inconsistent with its goal of preserving the site’s unique environment.
The landmark 2009 management plan for the Natural Area divides the property into an area that can sustain low impact recreation, and closes the rest in order to protect the rare plants and natural communities that live there, primarily along the shore.
In reporting this summer’s vandalism, state official Sabrina Stanwood, who heads DRED’s Natural Heritage Bureau, said there has been a reduction this year in the resources available to enforce the Natural Area’s regulations.
“This puts a greater burden on the Forest Ranger assigned in that region,” she said in an email as part of her report on the situation.
Once the site of all-night parties and rampant destruction of property, Ossipee Lake Natural Area began to recover after the state formed a “Working Group” of diverse interests that brought together previously competing state agencies and forged an alliance between leaders of the boating community and local environmental organizations.
The Working Group helped the state hammer out the document that became the property’s first management plan since the land was purchased from developers in 1969. It was also the first such plan to attempt to balance the competing interests of preservation and recreation at an environmentally sensitive state property.
Since it was implemented, the plan has relied heavily on self-enforcement of the site rules by boaters who have used education, communication, and gentle persuasion to obtain compliance. In instances when gentle persuasion has failed, Marine Patrol officers have issued citations and made arrests.
More about Ossipee Lake Natural Area may be found here.
OLNA is starting to deteriorate again and this is not good for the environment or boaters. Respect for both has worked but awareness and some policing is necessary. The local OLNA working group needs strengthening.
Why should anyone be allowed to be on the beach there? In light of the vandalism and violations, it should be restricted and boaters can stay on their boats and swim in the water. BTW- there are way too many intoxicated boat operators out there. Why is it ok to drink all day long, relieve yourself in the water and along the shoreline and then operate a boat under the influence?
Linda Nekoroski, 50 Pauli Point Rd, Freedom
The issue here is vandalism, and not to be resolved by public restrictions. Law enforcement and appropriate fines levied will sustain the preservation, not broad brushing the good as if (they) were somehow responsible.
That is a good point, Steve, and I agree. Unfortunately, the laws are not being enforced and the marine patrol and the police need to enforce the laws that are already in place to protect this area. From my observations over this season, there is far too much drunken boating and it contributes to the deterioration of the natural area. People don’t have the best judgement when they are drunk and enforcing the laws prohibiting boat operating under the influence would most likely curb some of this vandalism ( and make it safer on the lake for all).
And how do you know they are drunk and not just drinking ??