Ossipee — June 27, 2008 — A diminished measure of publicly accessible fun and sun on the shore of Ossipee Lake may remain permitted as long as beach-goers go easy on sensitive ecosystems and clean up their messes, a new state report suggests.
The state at Ossipee Town Hall Friday will unveil a long-anticipated draft plan for Long Sands Natural Area, a popular state-owned beachfront enjoyed by five generations of lake-lovers. The report will stress a need for “changes in public behavior and compliance.”
The draft, which is up for public comment, is a compromise aimed at keeping part of the only public beach on the state’s fifth largest lake open, while safeguarding rare plants and ancient treasures threatened by illegal boating and careless campers. It will keep open only the portion of the beach that remained public after temporary restrictions were put in place last summer amidst complaints about masses of boats docked offshore, trash and feces.
“Landing boats onshore, trampling of vegetation, digging in the sand, fires and other beach-goer activities have significantly contributed to the degradation of natural communities and the extirpation of plant species,” the report said.
The 30-page usage plan, reported for the first time Saturday by the The Ossipee Lake Alliance on the group’s Web site, was compiled by several state-level historical and environmental groups, including the Department of Economic and Resource Development. It could be implemented in July, including recommendations against Route 25 pedestrian access, public bathrooms and motorboats being pulled ashore.
“Increased development of the Ossipee Lake shoreline has simultaneously increased recreation use and limited opportunities for recreation on public land,” the report said.
Reactions on the Alliance’s website varied.
Dan, who said five generations of his family have recreated on the lake, wrote, “Those that own property on the lake, those that cherish what Ossipee Lake is, seem to agree with the (limited) beach closing, all support and encourage stepped up Marine Patrol to weed out the few that are ruining it for the many.”
But Jim countered with sarcasm, noting that environmental groups have sought to ban foot access across a swamp, leaving only boaters and members of the exclusive Long Sands lakefront housing community able to legally reach the beach. “That would be nice, close the lake only to the few that are fortunate to live there,” he wrote. “Everyone should be allowed access to the lake. The troublemakers should be arrested and their boats should be impounded.”
Most called for Route 25 boat ramp fees and beefed up state patrols.
Linda, who said she frequents the beach by way of boat and is careful to pick up trash, added, “It’s obvious someone local has successfully complained long and hard to punish the very few who don’t own here. This pending decision seems to be overkill and ridiculous. I cannot speak for those that abuse the privilege of beaching at Long Sands. Shame on them, but why punish everyone who frequents this beautiful area.”
The Alliance said the plan “acknowledges for the first time that historical resources, which range from 500 to 11,000 years old, exist not only throughout the natural area and the shoreline but also in the water.”
The state recommends against the two other options noted in its report: closing the beach altogether and opening it in its entirety.