Ossipee Lake Natural Area

State-owned Ossipee Lake Natural Area is the rarest of the lake’s special places. Comprised of 400 acres with an extensive undeveloped shoreline, it contains natural communities that are not known to exist anywhere else.


Real estate developers acquired the property in 1945 but sold it to the state 1969. By that time, biologists were writing about the property’s rare plants and natural communities, warning that the property needed to be protected from recreation.

A 35-year period of state neglect ensued during which boaters unknowingly destroyed many of the property’s environmental assets. The state’s 2004 decision to consider Ossipee’s request to create a town beach at the site led to a four-year public battle that ended after a change in state leadership.

A coalition of lake stakeholders was formed—including boaters, lake residents, law enforcement, and environmentalists—to help write a management plan to provide permanent protections for the property while also permitting boaters to use a designated portion of the shoreline for low impact recreation.

The management plan was implemented in 2009, as detailed in this newsletter link. A 2019 article about the plan’s 10th anniversary is here, and the state’s rules for the preserve are found in this pamphlet. See a 2021 video here.