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Protecting land, water a priority in discussions

A vision for protecting lands within the Lakes Region, with a particular eye towards guarding water quality, will be the subject of a series of discussions this fall.

Area conservation groups, together with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, have developed a &#';blueprint&#'; which outlines goals for conservation and water quality protection, said Kelly Cioe, spokesman for the Forest Society.

She said the Forest Society is working with the Newfound Lake Region Association, the Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society and the Green Mountain Conservation Group to host a series of public information sessions that begin Thursday in Gilford.

&#';The new plan aims to protect water quality in the region by prioritizing the most critical forests and shorefront lands to conserve over the next decade,&#'; she said.

The Lakes Region comprises about 20 percent of New Hampshire&#';s land area, but contains roughly 50 percent of the state&#';s surface water, she said.

The Lakes Region is also the state&#';s fastest-growing region in terms of population and land development, said Chris Wells, senior director for state projects with the Forest Society.

He said of the 41 towns which make up the Lakes Region, roughly 19 percent of the total land has been permanently conserved in some form. The statewide average is 30.6 percent, he said.

&#';It&#';s not like the Lakes Region is starting from zero,&#'; in terms of conservation. &#';There is a very good running start,&#'; said Wells, but noted the area is also considered the fastest growing in the East.

The plan was developed by the Forest Society and its partners strictly as a guide for voluntary conservation by landowners interested in protecting the land.

&#';This is not a master plan,&#'; he stressed, but a map which shows areas that would be key for conservation, and for protection of the watershed.

Members of the public interested in learning more about the plan are encouraged to attend one or more of the information sessions.

Wells noted that landowners who have property vital to the watershed and are interested in learning more about conservation options and how their lands may fit into the plan are encouraged to attend.

All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.

They are:

-- Thursday Sept. 20: Lake Winnipesaukee South at Gilford Town Hall, 47 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, co-sponsored by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

-- Monday Sept. 24: Lake Winnipesaukee North at Moultonborough Library, 4 Holland St., Moultonborough, co-sponsored by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and the Squam Lake Conservation Society.

-- Thursday Oct. 4: Newfound Lake at Alexandria Old Town Hall, 47 Washburn Road, Alexandria, co-sponsored by the Newfound Lake Region Association.

-- Thursday, Oct. 11: Squam Lake at the Squam Lakes Association Resource Room, 534 U.S. 3, Holderness, co-sponsored by the Squam Lakes Conservation Society, Squam Lakes Association, and the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

-- Thursday, Nov. 1: Green Mountain and Ossipee Lake Area at the Ossipee Public Library, 74 Main St., Center Ossipee, co-sponsored by the Green Mountain Conservation Group and Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

-- Thursday Nov. 8: Moose Mountains Area at the Moose Mountain Recreation Lodge, 107 Moose Mountain Road, Brookfield, co-sponsored by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways.


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