State Municipal Association Wants Campgrounds Kept Closed

Freedom—April 21, 2020—The board of the New Hampshire Municipal Association yesterday sent the governor a letter asking him to keep campgrounds closed, saying an influx of out of state visitors could spike the number of COVID-19 cases.

The letter aligns the non-partisan organization with a growing chorus of its member towns who believe that exempting campgrounds from the state’s list of non-essential businesses was a mistake that poses a threat to public health.

Most of the state’s hotels, motels and inns were ordered to close weeks ago as part of the governor’s plan to address the pandemic. Campgrounds, however, were specifically deemed to be “essential businesses,” making them exempt from the order.

In its letter, Municipal Association Executive Director Margaret Byrnes said campers tend to stay in the area even longer than hotel guests, and come in regular contact with local residents when shopping at groceries and pharmacies.

Map shows some of the many campgrounds on Ossipee Lake and in the surrounding area. Google Maps

“All of this puts New Hampshire residents at significantly increased risk of contracting COVID-19,” she wrote. “This will, in turn, put local first responders and medical personnel at greater risk than they already are.”

Byrnes cited the Town of Albany as an example. Albany has seven campgrounds and a year-round population of 738. Its medical needs are served by 25-bed Memorial Hospital in North Conway.

“It would be easier to close campgrounds now than to allow them to open and then order them closed at the peak of the season” if there is a spread of the virus, Byrnes said.

Freedom, Ossipee and Tamworth are among the towns that have warned the state that the health care system could be overwhelmed if an influx of people from coronavirus hot spots take up residence in private campgrounds.

Freedom’s State Representative Jerry Knirk is one of the leading opponents of opening the campgrounds. Last week he said resort-like campgrounds that are marketed and managed like hotels should have been grouped with hotels and other lodgings that are required to be closed.

The Town of Ossipee also opposes opening campgrounds at this time. In a letter to the governor, Town Administrator Matt Sawyer cited a likely increase in demand by campers for already over-burdened supplies as well as the potential spread of the virus.

There are several dozen campgrounds in the Ossipee Lake area and many more in the region. On the lake itself, the facilities range from low-key businesses like Terrace Pines to more elaborate properties like Westward Shores. Danforth Pond has two large, related facilities in Danforth Bay Camping and RV Resort, and the RV-only property The Bluffs.

Campers Speak
Meanwhile, campers are looking for a say in the discussion. An Ossipee Lake Alliance story on Monday generated 15 online posts as of Tuesday afternoon, while there were 25 responses to articles in the Conway Daily Sun. The posts appeared to be evenly divided between those who want campgrounds open and those who are opposed.

For some proponents of having campgrounds open, like the writer “Freedom Messenger,” the issue is monetary:

“I’m a seasonal at Danforth Bay and pay Freedom taxes. If this state rep wants to close the campground, then state and town should give back all the tax money and seasonal fees to all seasonal campers. Then, I will be glad to stay home for everyone’s safety.”

Others see the issue as a matter of fairness. Per “RDuffey656”:

“Why are you singling out campers, especially seasonal campers…? What is the difference between me coming to my camper that I live in, that’s my home for 7 months a year, and someone coming to their summer home if we behave responsibly?”

“Lynn Lavoie” wrote:

“We are full-time RV-ers and we own a self-contained motorhome. We should be able to use our camp because we (as well as others in the same situation) don’t have anywhere else to go.”

The plight of having ‘nowhere else to go’ is understood by local officials. Unlike transient visitors, full-season campers spend half the year here and pay taxes on top of camping fees. Many feel like they’re part of the community.

That said, with the virus continuing to spread and no plan in place to address a potential wide-scale spread of the disease by those coming from out of state, local officials want campgrounds to stay closed until medical officials say it’s safe to open them.

Ironically, as campgrounds prepare to open as early as next week, the governor continues to warn that there are too many COVID-19 cases to safely reopen non-essential businesses such as hotels, motels and inns.

“We’re not anywhere near that right now, to be honest about it” he told the N.H. Union Leader on Friday.

26 Comments

  1. Jeremy Darling 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    What about NH residents who have seasonal sites? There are a lot of people who live in southern NH who travel to the lakes regions and further north to enjoy the summer at seasonal campgrounds. Is a opening with restrictions being discussed? If campgrounds do open, does that mean beaches and boating ramps will open also? Would campgrounds be required to return seasonal fees if they are not open for use?

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  2. Kathleen Swift 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    We understand the states concerns re: campgrounds. However, seasonal vs transient campgrounds are very different. Seasonal pay taxes, lease fees and often is the only home for those summer months such as ourselves. Seasonal campgrounds should be allowed to open with strict guidelines by the state.

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  3. Kathleen Vogel 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    So Massachusetts should close the border and not let anyone from NH in? Every third car on the highways here in Mass has a NH plate. No NH residents at Mass hospitals? No NH residents allowed to work in Mass? Don’t forget the refunds to the Mass residents paying property taxes in NH, if you restrict access the funds should be returned, and that’s less money for those resources NH residents are so concerned about.

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  4. Ronald L Dionne 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I along with many other NH residents have paid up for a
    full season. I am a NH resident with a home in Manchester
    NH. I understand, it’s not the campground or our fault for
    this predicament. Common sense is needed here for all
    parties. We are in the adult campground and that might
    be something to look at. This money belongs to the renting
    party.

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  5. John Cameron 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    They should also close down the Lakes so no one can use them. Residents and Seasonal Residents.

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  6. Freedom Messenger 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    People let me reiterate on what I’m saying. I’m here for the businesses. The campgrounds should not be responsible paying back the seasonal campers. Its the “Federal, State and Towns” should be paying them back. The “Jackass” party needs to get there heads out of Nancy Pelosi’s a– and cough up the money to the businesses! If they cannot get the money, go get it back from Harvard University. WE all know the “Jackass” party snuck that one by and paid that school. As for NH residents crossing the border, STAY HOME! Practice what you preach. Build your wall and don’t leave the state for everyone’s safety!

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  7. James Mckernan 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I’m not sure that when you get sick with covid 19 it’s the same having an emergency accident. If I’m feeling sick I’m not traveling to camp. If I get sick in NH I’m heading home. I don’t see how this would effect an local NH hospitals. This isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s more about how to safely live with this virus till a vaccine is found

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  8. David P 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    We are seasonal campers in the Ossipee area. I grew up in a small northern NH town supported by out of town guests. I can see both sides of this argument, but let’s be honest here. If all of the hotels are already closed (there are a lot) by also closing the seasonal campgrounds, then the local economy will become crippled. I prefer to purchase all of my supplies in NH to support the local economy (where I also pay taxes). But if the locals are so worried about out of towners taking up “ all the over burdened supplies” I will happily shop at home before going up. And when this pandemic is over I will continue to do that. If my money isn’t good enough for the local economy in a time like this, it shouldn’t be when everything is back to normal either.

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  9. John Cameron 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    They should also close down the Lakes so that Residents and Seasonal Residents cannot use the lake

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  10. Jane Murphy 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I don’t understand why you would shut down a seasonal campground, every thing is out side way less contact than going shopping. Most people who camp don’t spend time in stores we enjoy being outside. If they close then the state should pay back all of he money we have paid for the year. Just when they say they want to start opening things again there gonna close campgrounds? Don’t get it!

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  11. Kathleen Costello 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I don’t think we should be closing anything. Leave it up to the individual. If some people want to stay isolated then go ahead but some of us don’t want to be forced to lose business’s or homes or rental property money. To each his own. Let’s end this lockdown before our economy can’t be fixed

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  12. JONATHAN GIFFORD 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I’m a NH resident that has a camper on a seasonal site in the lakes region and pay town taxes on the site. Our campground has 2 sites that I know of that they allow for family or friends to visit in our predominantly seasonal campground. We have paid for our site and we do shop in the local area. I don’t see any reason we differ from a person that owns a private camp and has no limitations on visitation.

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  13. David R Moore 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    Little tin pot dictators appear to be willing to kill the economies of their states. I guess that applies to some New Hampshire politicians too. They evidently believe that most people have IQs somewhere between 70 and 80, and are therefore incapable of exercising good judgement. There is no room for common sense. I am a Massachusetts resident who has been camping and fishing, and therefore supporting the local economies in NH for many years. To the people of NH: don’t let these wannabe Nazis ruin the summer.

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  14. Karin Chase 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    Leave them open with quarantine restrictions..

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  15. Cheryl Sojka 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I, like many, am a seasonal camper in the Ossipee area who lives in southern NH and pays taxes to the town for my 6 month residency. I do my shopping in the lakes region for the season and spend a fair amount of money every year adding to the economy of the area. I understand both sides of this argument as I also do not want to see this virus spread. The seasonal campers I have spent my summers with for over a decade also have concerns and do not want this virus to spread to their families, friends, or local townships. We are more than capable of social distancing, especially in an outdoor environment. We are more than capable of wearing masks if we need to spend money in the area for something “essential”. I am happy to shop in my home town before heading north to just enjoying being outside on my own campsite. This virus is not going anywhere soon, there will be more cases. People have to be respectful of distancing from others and educate themselves on the spread. This is a droplet spread respiratory virus. If everyone would use common sense there would be a lot less fear and finger pointing. Campers CAN quarantine. Please issue burn permits and allow the campgrounds to open. Please let’s not let fear overpower common sense.

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  16. Brad Benjamin 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    We need to stop living scared. I should be able to go to my seasonal camp. I can social distance there with my wife just as I do at home. My neighbors are far more then six feet away. We can talk from a distance and be responsible. This pandemic is not going away. We need to learn how to live responsibly.
    If we keep living scared there will be no economy and no money and none of us will ever be able to even afford a camp.

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  17. David W 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I have a seasonal site and God forbid I am from Massachusetts. Not everybody here are irresponsible. I always did my food shopping in the Ossipee area to support the local businesses, even though it was more expensive. My plan for this year is to pack everything I need in a cooler, drive to my seasonal and stay there until it is time to come home. No stops. Truthfully, I don’t want to come in close contact with anyone either. It is not hard to follow the rules. We have paid a lot of money for our site and in past years our business was always welcome. I have no problem with self-quarantine and following strict guidelines. I can talk to my neighbors with social distancing in mind. Seasonal campers are no different than people who own seasonal homes and are coming to New Hampshire regardless. I see a lot of cars in Massachusetts with New Hampshire plates. Life is a two-way street. Life will go on, we just need to be responsible and smart.

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  18. Sherrie Peterson 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    We can social distance at camp as well as at home. Seasonal campers really look forward to a change of scenery. I thought it was good to be outside. Our campground is seasonal only. Maybe encourage ppl to shop in their own town instead.

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  19. Linda Bianchi 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    Campgrounds should be open. Its NOT going to flood the local hospitals. People don’t just immediately go into Respiratory arrest!!! I know that if I or any of my family members starts to feel any symptoms, we are not headed to camp. If we are at camp and any of us starts to feel symptoms, we are heading home. Anyone with common sense will want to be near home if sick. Our local hospitals are where people would want to be. Not a small lakes region hospital.

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  20. Donna 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    I have a camp in Ossipee,iam from Mass i come with my dog cuz I have no yard at home. I always bring what I need and stay on my site on my porch. After all this if I can’t it’s going to suck.

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  21. Russell Draper 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    Another point to make is a lot of mass residents own property in NH, are they going to restrict them from going to their summer homes? If we need to social distance, so be it.

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  22. Beverly 1 month ago April 22, 2020

    My husband and I also have a seasonal park model in NH. We are from ME. Seasonal fees went up this year $150.00 more. We also pay annual taxes. We feel for both sides of the situation. We are more than willing to stay home until the decision is made to open however long it takes; but a partial refund from the State would be reasonable . This pandemic is not the fault of the campground. As seasonals it would be nice to go and open and clean to get ready for the season as we only go on weekends and vacation. In the meantime we await the decision to reopen.

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  23. Soon to be HOMELESS 1 month ago April 23, 2020

    I am a seasonal camper at The Bluff’s (a 50+ adults-only section of Danforth Bay Camping Resort in Freedom, New Hampshire.) We are usually at our seasonal site from May 1st to around October 15th each year. The remaining 6 months of the year we are snow birds at another seasonal location which we must leave by April 30, 2020. These locations are our residents. We pay leases on the land lots as well as Taxes to the towns. We will be homeless if we are not allowed to use our seasonal home in the Bluff’s Seasonal Camp Ground. As a seasonal camper, we have a self-contained Park Model unit (equivalent of a little house) complete with full bathroom, full kitchen and a full size appliances. The Seasonal Sites at The Bluff’s are large and separated from neighboring sites. No different than a Mobil Home Park. Maintaining a 14 day quarantine as well as social distancing would be extremely easy. We can bring all our needs with us for said 14 days while quarantined.
    The campground wouldn’t even have to open any restrooms or public area’s since all seasonal sites are self contained with sewer, water, electricity, WiFi and TV.
    The NH Governor’s Covid-19 guidelines will easily be able to be adhered to by The Bluff’s Seasonal Residents.

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  24. John Adams 1 month ago April 23, 2020

    My wife and I are Seasonal Campers at the Bluffs at Danforth Bay. We have already paid for this season, as well as half our taxes for this year, the other half being due in June. We are also paying $750
    for a boat slip we cannot use this year, to get out to the main lake, because the bridge on Ossipee Lake
    Road is being rebuilt.

    Our boat is being kept in storage, for the winter, at Independent Marine in Moultonborough. The boat is scheduled to be picked up on May 15. Then we would move the boat to storage at Danforth Bay for the summer. If Danforth doesn’t open by May 15th or at all then what additional charge will I incur
    to store my boat somewhere else till the fall. Maybe the Town of Freedom would be open to me storing my boat in the Town Hall parking lot.

    If I can’t get access to Danforth this 2020 season who is going to compensate me for the monies I have spent and the monies I am destined to spend this season?

    I don’t see the difference between Seasonal Campers and Summer Residents. I do believe that the Transient Campers due fall under the auspice of Hotels or Inns and as such should be held to the same guidelines.

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  25. Jeff Casey 1 month ago April 28, 2020

    If my relatives come to their seasonal site from Flordia and then the governor closes the campgrounds in New Hampshire would they have to move out or would they get to stay at the Bluffs in Danforth?

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  26. James Peterson 1 month ago April 30, 2020

    Bottom line is everyone needs to stay healthy.

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