NH LAKES Offers Message of Urgency But Hope

Freedom—May 28, 2024—Our lakes are struggling, but this year’s legislative session offered hope, according to NH LAKES President Andrea LaMoreaux, who spoke in Freedom this past weekend.

Residents from all three Ossipee Lake communities attended a forum sponsored by Berry Bay Association, which last year began using the first half of its biannual administrative meetings to invite the public to hear speakers on lake topics.

Last weekend’s topic was how Concord’s legislative process works—from an idea for a bill to sponsorship to hearings and votes. LaMoreaux’s message was that more ideas should be coming from lake communities, which often see what the state does not.

“Our lakes are getting sick and toxic before our eyes, and we need to be less reactive and more proactive,” she told the audience.

That starts with fielding more lake-minded candidates for state and local office, she suggested. In short, the kind of candidates who understand that lake issues have economic as well as environmental components.

NH LAKES is coming off a successful year, with key pieces of legislation passed, or teed-up for final consideration, that focus on the group’s core priorities of invasive species prevention, shoreland management, and water protection.

Nowhere was the power of lake community activism more evident this year than in the House of Representatives’s turnaround on the issue of increasing the shoreline setback for wake boats from 150 feet to 300 feet.

Despite strong public support and the approval of the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee (HRRDC), State Representative Joe Sweeney (R-Salem) in March led a successful effort to table the setback bill before it could be discussed and voted on by the full body.

Lake advocates subsequently mounted a two-month campaign that resulted in the HRRDC amending a Senate bill by increasing a proposed 200-foot shoreline setback—a benchmark created by the watersports industry—to 300 feet. The full House then voted 214 to 148 to approve it.

While it remains to be seen if House and Senate versions of the bill can be reconciled, and if so, whether the Governor will sign it, LaMoreaux says the trajectory of the wake sports bill has made her optimistic.

“Constituents convinced their representatives that New Hampshire needs to do better than to adopt an important water safety standard for our lakes that was created by a national watercraft lobbying group,” she said.

The 200-foot standard she said, has only been adopted by Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. In contrast, the governor of Maine recently signed a 300-foot setback for wake boats, and a 500-foot setback went into effect this year for Vermont.

The lobbying scene in Concord was derided by CSM. R. A. Oram, one of three officials of Freedom’s Conservation Commission at the meeting. He said people may not realize the pervasiveness of lobbying at the state level rivals what takes place in Washington.

Also in Saturday’s audience was former State Representative Dr. Bill Marsh, a Brookfield resident and member of the Lake Wentworth Association. Marsh is running to fill the State Senate seat being vacated by Jeb Bradley, which represents Ossipee Lake’s communities.

Noting that this is an important election year, LaMoreaux encouraged the audience to engage frequently with candidates and elected officials, including inviting them to local meetings and keeping a line of communication open.

“You need to know how much a candidate knows about our lakes and how much he or she cares,” she concluded.


  1. tj236 2 months ago May 30, 2024

    “Our lakes are getting sick and toxic before our eyes, and we need to be less reactive and more proactive,” she told the audience.
    Why? Could it be the desire, by the state, to increase and facilitate access to NH lakes without thought or concern regarding overuse consequences?
    Increased construction surely has its impact on the lakes but let’s be honest the state is all too eager to collect tax revenue from the often over assessed lakefront properties that keep popping up all over the state.

  2. Traceysampson 2 months ago May 30, 2024

    This doesn’t tell the whole story. The setback law has been defeated several times, but instead of “the lobbyists” defeating the bills, lobbyists have continually worked the system to get their way by having the bills slightly edited and reissued using different avenues to try and push them through again and again. The law continues to fail because it’s not the right answer that is backed by evidence or popular opinion, contrary to the pushed agenda.


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