Land developers White & Sawyer acquire the property from Central Maine Power.
White & Sawyer sell the property to the State for $320,000 for “education or recreation.”
Biologist and lake resident Barre Hellquist documents State endangered Mermaidweed and other rare plants.
DRED’s Natural Heritage Bureau documents State endangered Slender Bog Clubmoss.
DRED’s Natural Heritage Bureau documents State endangered Swamp Birch, the only known location in New Hampshire.
At Ossipee’s request, DRED offers to lease 22 acres for a beach provided that town officials meet environmental requirements and pay development and operating costs.
Ossipee withdraws its request for a beach.
The N.H. Division of Historical Resources documents prehistoric sites at the Natural Area.
Ossipee makes a second request for a beach and DRED surveys the property.
In November, Commissioner Bald rejects the idea saying “Given the natural communities and rare plant populations present, we cannot encourage the increased recreational activities that would result from a developed swimming beach…It is apparent that we have one of New Hampshire’s most significant sandy pondshore ecosystems. It must be protected.”
The N.H. Division of Historical Resources says artifacts found at the site are between 500 to 11,000 years old.
In April, biologist Hellquist tells DRED the Natural Area “is being destroyed by hundreds of people trampling the shoreline on a daily basis during the summer.”
DRED conducts a botanical survey and in June lists the Natural Area as a “hot spot,” an environmentally significant State property that is threatened. From the Bureau’s report:
- Five species of rare plants previously documented at the site can no longer be found, including Mermaidweed, Slender Bog Clubmoss and Virginia Meadow Beauty.
- Other rare species, including Hairy Hudsonia and Grass-leaved Goldenrod, are in serious decline and are in danger of extirpation [eradication].
- The site contains two rare and exemplary natural communities: an inland beach strand community, which is the only example of its kind in the State, and a twig-rush sandy pond shore community, one of only two known examples in the State. Photos show 30% of the twig-rush sandy pond shore community has been lost to trampling since the Bureau’s 1982 survey.
The report concludes: “Based on the explicit record of loss of rare plants and communities from the site, the ongoing recreational uses of the shoreline are clearly not compatible with the Natural Area designation and maintaining the area’s natural features.”
Ossipee Lake Alliance is formed and sends a letter to DRED Commissioner Bald asking how the agency will address the findings in the report. Bald does not respond.
Bald resigns from DRED in February and is replaced by Sean O’Kane in April.
Ossipee Lake Alliance profiles the Natural Area in its “Special Places of Ossipee Lake” brochure to create awareness of the preserve’s unique value to the State.
On the 4th of July volunteers count close to 3,500 people in the water and on the shoreline of the Natural Area. Pictures of beer cans littering the shoreline and people using tents, beach chairs and gas grills are sent to DRED. DRED does not respond.
In August volunteers tell DRED that boaters have constructed a padlocked wooden locker on the shoreline to store beach gear. DRED takes no action.
In November Ossipee submits a third proposal for a beach stating “Anything would be better than the current situation, as probably any rare plants on the beach have been or soon will be trampled by the boaters using the beach.”
In January the Town of Freedom, Effingham Conservation Commission, Ossipee Lake Alliance and Green Mountain Conservation Group write to DRED opposing a beach, noting the agency previously ruled it would be incompatible with the fragile nature of the property.
In April DRED tells Ossipee it must identify rare plants at the proposed beach site and develop a plan to protect them.
In July the State Archeologist’s office confirms the site contains prehistoric artifacts 3,000 to 5,000 years old.
In September Ossipee hires The Nature Conservancy to conduct two botanical surveys of the proposed beach area.
In October the first survey shows five natural communities at the site, four of which are rare in the State and one of which is not know to exist anywhere else. There are also multiple instances of rare plants.
In November John Lynch is elected Governor of New Hampshire.
In February Governor Lynch reinstates George Bald as DRED Commissioner. Ossipee cancels the second botanical survey and withdraws its beach proposal.
In June Ossipee Lake Alliance and others call on DRED to implement the agency’s 2003 recommendation for a protection and restoration plan.
In August the heads of three DRED departments send Bald a report detailing the history of damage to the Natural Area and recommending that the shoreline be closed prior to Memorial Day 2007.
In September Ossipee Lake Alliance, Green Mountain Conservation Group and the Long Sands Association meet with Bald and ask him to close the shoreline while a public access policy can be written. Bald says he intends to do so.
In April Ossipee Lake Alliance announces that a survey of lake property owners, vacationers and boaters shows permanent protection of the Natural Area is second only to milfoil as the lake’s most important issue.
In May DRED holds a meeting seeking public input on management options for the Natural Area.
On Memorial Day weekend DRED posts signs prohibiting camping, fires and the removal of plants.
In June DRED official Philip Bryce confirms that the restrictions on the signs are insufficient to prevent additional damage.
On August 20 DRED closes all but 1,500 ft. of the shoreline and says it will write a management plan for the property over the winter.
On June 18 DRED announces a preferred management plan for the Natural Area, balancing recreation and preservation and promising to include local stakeholder groups in future planning.
In September DRED announces the formation of a 17-member Working Group that will engage boaters, environmentalists and state officials in refining and launching the management plan.
On November 14 the Working Group meets for the first time and agrees unanimously to the state’s recommendation that the public use portion of the shoreline be moved to the west for practical and environmental reasons. The group agrees to meet again in January.
The Working Group meetings continue, with a high level of cooperation among all participants.
On May 16, boaters, environmentalists and state officials pitch in and remove winter debris from the Natural Area shoreline.
On May 19 the management plan is finished in time to go into effect on Memorial Day.