By MARY O'NEIL
Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group
To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, ask not what the Lakes Region can do for you, ask what you can do for the Lakes Region. This area provides amazing water access, boating on numerous pristine lakes, hiking and views from breathtaking trails and mountains, four-season recreation, communities with unsurpassed amenities, towns with all the charm as those in books...the list goes on and on. For this reason, the principle behind Kennedy's words is met with substantial measures by residents and visitors alike. There is a palpable feeling of gratitude among the people who live and visit the Lakes Region. This feeling has translated into action. Here in the Lakes Region, we have conservation trusts, associations, committees, groups and individuals who contribute to preserving our abundant resources.
The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has been working to protect the area since 1979. It has conserved more than 23,000 acres in 133 properties. Miles of shoreline on Winnipesaukee, Squam, Newfound, and other waterbodies have benefitted from the trust's efforts. The LRCT has conserved 20 summits and more than 85 miles of hiking trails around the region. Some of the properties that are protected include the popular hikes up Red Hill in Moultonborough and Mount Percival and Morgan in the Holderness area. The LRCT's most extensive stewardship encompasses the buildings and more than 5,000 acres of Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains. This unique property provides historical interest and hiking opportunities in spectacular surroundings. The LRCT has guides and maps available, including Winnipesaukee paddle maps, hiking maps for Castle in the Clouds, and Homestead Forest Trail maps. The Trust's successes would not have been possible without the support of members and volunteers. For more information on the LRCT, visit www.lrct.org.
The Lake Winnipesaukee Association devotes its time to protecting the Big Lake's water quality and resources. In 2015 alone, they collected more than 200 water samples to monitor the health of the lake; continued to work closely with the NHDES, NH LAKES, and seven groups from around Winnipesaukee to combat milfoil and other invasive species; co-sponsored educational presentations on management practices and other topics relative to conservation; conducted shorefront site evaluations to provide storm-water improvement recommendations for homeowners; and engaged more than 100 children and adults in their "Floating Classroom," where they measured water quality and temperature, collected phytoplankton, and learned about the lake. The LWA says, "Volunteers are lake heroes." To learn more about the LWA, go to www.winnipesaukee.org.
The Squam Lakes Conservation Society's goal is to safeguard the Squam Lake region as "a unique region of islands, shorefront, back lands and mountains, wherein a harmony between the natural environment and mankind is preserved forever." Currently, the society owns or holds easements to over 120 properties. This comprises 7,500 acres and 19 miles of shorefront. Every year it stewards additional properties. In October of 2015 with help from over 130 donors and community support, the Society and its conservation partners purchased Whitten Woods, in Ashland, from Bill and Nancy Dailey. The New England Forestry Foundation will manage the timber resources on the property, SLCS will have a conservation easement to protect the land, and Squam Lakes Association will have an easement for a public trail system. Those interested in participating as volunteers can choose the type of property they would like to monitor. A team of 3 or 4 will meet at the property with equipment for marking and measuring, and walk the parcel to see if it is in compliance with the terms of the deed. Learn more at www.squamlakes.com.
Since 1992, the New Hampshire Lakes Association has been "dedicated to protecting New Hampshire's lakes and watersheds." Its stewardship includes close cooperation with local lake, pond, and watershed associations and individuals who are concerned with guarding our precious and valuable environment. The association utilizes a number of educational and proactive programs to preserve our land and waters. Through its Lake Host Program, NH LAKES has conducted more than 665,000 courtesy boat inspections and made over 1,400 "saves" by removing invasive plant or animal specimens that would have otherwise entered the lakes. The goal of its Lake Conservation Corps is to implement lake-friendly landscaping techniques that reduce the amount of runoff polluting the lakes. The Lake Explorer Quest Program awards families and individuals who explore three waterbodies by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard with an official Lake Explorer Quest patch. The Watershed Warrior program is a fun way for kids and families to learn how to take action to keep the lakes and watersheds healthy. NH LAKES is spearheaded by president Tom O'Brien, who brings more than 20 years of watershed and park management service experience to the cause.
Other groups involved in protecting our resources include the Town of Gilford Conservation Commission, Moultonborough Conservation Commission and Milfoil Committee, New Hampshire Audubon Society, Lake Waukewan Watershed Protective Association, Appalachian Mountain Club and Society for the Protection of NH Forests.
In short, the conservation efforts in the Lakes Region are a force to be reckoned with. Members and volunteers give back to the area in abundance because they recognize our survival as a community depends on the preservation of our resources. Keep up the good work.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com
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