State Sets Date for Annual Natural Area Meeting

Freedom—June 13—The annual meeting of Ossipee Lake Natural Area stakeholders will be held in Freedom on Friday, June 21, according to a statement by the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands.

The meeting will at 10:30 a.m. in the Micah Room of Camp Calumet on Ossipee Lake Road. In addition to stakeholder group members, the public is invited to attend, comment and ask questions.

The stakeholder group, comprised of boaters, conservationists and agency officials, was formed in 2007 to help write a management plan for the property, which the state purchased from developers in 1969.

As chronicled in a recent series of articles on the Ossipee Lake Alliance website, the property’s globally rare plants and natural communities were allowed to be damaged by boaters for 30 years by the now-defunct state agency DRED before a site management plan went into effect in 2009.

Under N.H. Forests and Lands management since 2017, the site’s rare plants and natural communities have begun to recover. But frustration with the agency is high, especially among neighboring property owners who say nuisance behavior at the site is on the rise, including vandalism and trespassing.

The state is expected to be asked at the meeting how it plans to restore the boating community’s support for the self-monitoring model that is the core of its site management plan.

Boater support for self-monitoring collapsed during the pandemic, and all but one of the boaters in the stakeholder group resigned from the forum and have not been replaced. Other stakeholder positions, including town representatives, have been unfilled for years.

Forest and Lands Director Patrick Hackley last year said enforcement of the site rules continues to be hampered by a lack of Forest Rangers, and a legal restriction that prevents Marine Patrol officers from issuing tickets for trespassing, taking dogs ashore and other violations of the posted state regulations.

Experiments with hidden cameras to record bow numbers of violators produced mixed but promising results before being paused during the pandemic. The cameras remain in storage.

The possibility of increasing fines for trespassing received a thumbs-up from participants at last year’s stakeholder meeting, with State Forest Ranger Thomas Trask suggesting that the fine be set at $1,200 per violation.

Forest and Lands Director Hackley said he will report on the agency’s progress in seeking approval for increased fines during the June 21 meeting.

2 Comments

  1. Jacqueline 1 month ago June 14, 2024

    I hope something is accomplished SOON! We have been seeing the area being taken over with DEFIANT TRESPASSERS. They know that there is NO problem with rules that are never enforced. Unless, there are fines issued of substantial amount, it is going to be “Same old, Same Old.”

    REPLY
  2. Richard 1 month ago June 19, 2024

    Our government in action. Deplorable. No accountability.

    REPLY

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