The Squam Lakes Association is leading the effort to update the 1991 Squam Watershed Plan, which was the first lake management plan in the state. As a small non-profit organization with limited staff, the SLA needed some help in gathering data, so it turned to the Center for the Environment at Plymouth State University, a partner in the NH EPSCoR Ecosystems & Society project.
Two PSU graduate students conducted stakeholder interviews as part of an environmental planning seminar. Once the data were compiled, key themes emerged: people are concerned about water quality, use of the watershed, community involvement, and education.
“The interviews tell us: What are our holes in communication? Are our perceptions of people’s concerns accurate?” says Rebecca Hanson, director of conservation for the Squam Lakes Association. Community participation and feedback are key elements of the watershed plan revision.
Once completed, the management plan will be a guiding document for the six towns that surround Squam Lake to balance economic development, sustainable land use, protection of water quality, and lake access.