“Respect, Protect and Enjoy” — words from the website of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources. Words matter. Lowell Lake State Park’s long-range plan matters. This quiet system of woods, lake, swamps, fens and trails found near Londonderry has been an undeveloped park since 1977. The park is an extraordinary teacher of our connectedness with nature. It is a special place with increasing visitor presence during the summer. Summer visitors have almost tripled in the last four years.
Forest, Parks and Recreation (FPR) are working on a plan to develop the old cabins remaining from an early-1940-50s summer camp into overnight lodging. Lowell Lake State Park is a relatively small park, with one-third of the 356 acres taken up by a lake and several islands. Two of the 11 cabins that are close to the shore of the lake and most of the buildings, including the lodge, fall within the 300 feet of the protective shoreline zoning regulations of Londonderry.
The impact of the proposed renovation of these buildings, providing accessible paved paths, lighting and new parking areas on this quiet shore area, will be felt through the next generations of visitors. No longer will the beach area in front of the lodge be accessible for day use. A new beach will be created. A new parking area for day use will be expanded and a new traffic pattern will be created. On the busiest day in the summer at maximum capacity, each boat will have 1.5 acres of lake. There is no plan to give the loons space in which to build a nest and raise a family.
We would all enjoy the opportunity to spend several nights on a beautiful and fascinating lake and wetlands. There is a lot of demand for park lodging from summer visitors to Vermont.
This is where we need to stop and really look at what we will lose forever if we simply make our personal desires trump the long established ecology and life systems of fish, animals and plant life on this lake and trails. The noise, light and increased footprints on the 10-acre area for cabins and lodging will alter the already established migratory pathways of animals, which are called wildlife corridors. It will alter the nocturnal activity, affect the mating cycles and change the wildlife experience for all who visit this park.
There is common ground with FPR in respecting, protecting and enjoying this beautiful park. We can all agree that the number of visitors needs to be better managed. As an example, when the parking area is full, the staff will send a notice of park closure via social media.
Respect the rights of all life in this special place, not just human rights. The town of Londonderry’s zoning regulations are designed to protect the lakeshore. They need to be respected. Most of the old cabins designated for lodging are within 300 feet of the edge of the lake.
Protect the shoreline, fish, game, plants and wildlife so they may flourish in this area of wetlands, forests and lake. Our children’s children should experience Lowell Lake as we do.
Enjoy the peace and quiet as you walk the trail around the lake, fish off the shore, paddle through the hemlock swamps and swim in the clear, warm summer waters. Loons may build a nest this year. This is a place you can come and be restored in spirit and mind. It gives you gifts of perspective and reminds you of the natural rhythms of life.
Encourage FPR to work on visitor management plans and not develop overnight lodging. Many times, doing less is by far the best plan for small, natural recreational areas and in particular, for Lowell Lake State Park.
Diane Holme lives in Chester.