LONDONDERRY, Vt. – On Thursday, May 30, a 100-plus standing-room-only crowd heard the Londonderry Conservation Commission’s review of the Long Range Management Plan of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation for Lowell Lake. The audience included residents of Londonderry, Weston, Windham, and Chester. Conservation Commission Chair Irwin Kuperberg presided over the meeting and detailed concerns over elements of the LLRMP with assistance from members of the Lowell Lake Concerned Citizens group.
Initially proposed in 1999, with an addendum in 2016, the LLRMP contains a wide range of proposals meant to improve and expand the public’s access to the lake. One of the elements that raised particular concern was the proposal to remodel or replace 11 cabins and other current buildings to support overnight lodging. These structures sit on the west side of the lake and were built in the 1940s as part of a summer camp. They are in disrepair, contain lead paint, and two of them are within 20 feet of the shoreline.
To support overnight lodging, a new parking area would be created with connecting paths in the cabin area in addition to a new area for swimming. The Conservation Commission also expressed concerns about impacts from increased 24-hour use to the fragile lake ecosystem, which includes nesting loons for the first time.
At just 356 acres, Lowell Lake State Park is a relatively small park, with 102 acres of lake. Last year, there were approximately 15,000 day-use visits, a ten-fold increase over the 1,500 annual visits projected by FP&R in 1999. While stating that its goal is to control this dramatic rise, the plan, in addition to adding as many as 80 visitors to the currently undisturbed overnight hours, also proposes expansion of the day use parking area.
Following an interactive session with audience members, they were asked how many were opposed to the introduction of overnight camping and nearly every hand in the room was raised. Kuperberg later stated, “While we knew there was widespread concern about FPR’s plan, we had no idea that it was this strong.”
There will be a public meeting called by FP&R in the coming weeks for community comments on the LLRMP. It is currently available on their website at www.vtstateparks.com/lowell.html. For further information about Lowell Lake Concerned Citizens, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 342, Londonderry, VT 05148. The meeting will be available on GNAT-TV.