In early July 2007 following two critical public meetings in the summer of 2006, six months of meetings and proposal formulation and three-months of regulatory review prior to New Hampshire Governor and Council approval of the final proposal, work began on “Every Acre Counts: The Newfound Watershed Master Plan”. The title of this ambitious and innovative planning effort reflects its connection to all of the 63,150 acres that form the Newfound Lake watershed. In the watershed, all precipitation that falls on the ridges surrounding Newfound Lake flows as streams and groundwater to the lake. The watershed defines the ecological system that provides the Newfound experience and supports the people that live here.
“Every Acre Counts: The Newfound Watershed Master Plan” is a multi-year, leading-edge master planning program for the entire watershed. Due to be completed by late 2009, the primary goal of this project is to unite the nine towns touched by the watershed to create cohesive and effective strategies that balance future growth with natural resource protection.
The project team (consisting of professionals from UNH, Plymouth State University (PSU), the Newfound Area School District (NASD), Jeff Taylor & Associates and the NLRA) have hit the ground running, completing the following major project tasks in 2007:
- Water quality monitoring was expanded by sampling 30 near-shore locations around the lake for bacteria and nutrients. This sampling will be repeated three more times over the next year to identify areas of concern and to assess remedies.
- A public opinion survey was mailed to 1,950 watershed property owners. This survey will help inform the planning process, and raise awareness of the importance of watershed planning. Roughly 800 responses (41 percent) of the mailed surveys have been completed and returned, meaning that the survey results will be both useful and statistically valid.
- Collecting and analyzing demographic data for growth and population trends to guide the planning process.
- Meeting local Planning Boards to obtain copies of the latest Master Plans and local regulations, introduce the project and solicit additional members for the Steering Committee of local residents that will help guide the project.
- Compiling and summarizing the status of Master Plans and supporting regulations for the nine watershed towns to assess baseline conditions at the municipal level.
- The results of the planning analysis were presented to the public on November 15th at the Slim Baker Lodge in Bristol. Click here for the presentation slides.
- PSU students have interviewed roughly 60 watershed residents to develop oral histories. These interviews will be used to better understand individual concerns and ideas, as well as to enrich the message of the final watershed master plan.
- PSU and the Newfound Area School District are collaborating on curriculum development that will blend educational requirements with experiential learning opportunities.
The NLRA’s role is to ensure our strategic goals continue to be met through the grant activities, to coordinate and augment the project team, to prepare and speak at public meetings, to seek opportunities for collaboration among all stakeholders, and to satisfy grant administration requirements.