Residents get a rundown on state plans for Lowell Lake

From left, Ethan Phelps, Tim Morton and Nate McKeen address issues about managing Lowell Lake. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Thirty-five people crowded into the meeting room of the Twitchell Building in Londonderry on Thursday, Feb. 15 to learn about state Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation plans for the development and management of Lowell Lake State Park, off Route 11 in Londonderry.

District Forestry manager Nate McKeen acted as moderator. During the meeting, which lasted a little over one hour, state forester Tim Morton and parks regional manager Ethan Phelps responded to public comments on the draft Lowell Lake State Park Long Range Management Planning and Implementation.  Much of what was said at the meeting came from this document.

Many comments related to the disruption that logging around the lake would have on its visitors. Morton said the interval between harvests was extended to four years, from two, with complete harvests taking eight to 10 years. The original document called for three harvests over a five-year period. Red maples visible from the lake will be retained at a higher density and for longer than is typical in forest management.

About 35 people turned out last Thursday night to hear about the state’s plans for managing Lowell Lake.

Morton said that the plan would limit the hours of trucking during a harvest as well as the number of trucks and that the harvest would not take place during tourist season.

When Morton is planning a logging operation near private property, he said, he always checks in with nearby residents. He added that many owners ask that more trees be cut, usually for an improved view or for use of a solar array or satellite dish.

Phelps, who addressed the visitors’ experience at the park, said it does become very busy on weekends and holidays, and park staff has limited traffic on those busy days to avoid overcrowding.

This, according to one audience member, has resulted in vehicles idling on Lowell Lake Road waiting to get in. Phelps said management strategies to benefit the visitor experience may include increased staffing, adding day user fees, a park office, a compositing toilet, better designed parking and access control.

Management strategies to benefit the visitor experience may include increased staffing, adding day user fees, a park office, a compositing toilet, better designed parking and access control.

Phelps said the original parking lot was designed to hold 15 vehicles, although when carefully managed, 35 vehicles can be accommodated. He said the design for the parking lot has not been drawn and may include provisions for more or fewer vehicles.

Phelps says the Master Planning process will examine the feasibility and appropriateness of the numbers and types of lodging units that will balance environmental protection and cultural carrying capacity. Morton said the number of overnight cabins will not increase.

Londonderry Town Administrator Robert Nied said there has been no collaboration with the town of Londonderry and asked if the park complies with town land use and zoning regulations. Phelps said they would work with the town and comply with all local regulations.

McKeen said the Long Range Management Planning Addendum is the Master Plan for Lowell Lake Park and is still a work in process that needs approval from the Vermont Parks Commissioner.

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  1. Cynthia Gubb says:

    Visit any Vermont State Park and you will find that they do a terrific job providing a great experience for a particular park with its unique features.

    Without management and a plan, the existing landscape of Lowell Lake will continue to decline. I applaud the efforts of the department.

    I also think it is great that the state is willing to invest $2 million plus in our town.

  2. Ken forbes says:

    Whenever the state gets involved to “improve” a place it always ruins it for the local people that use it. Like they said, adding staff and raising fees! That’s really what it’s all about.

  3. Charlea says:

    I agree with Bill. The lake is a quiet respite for kayakers, hikers and picnicing families. A noisy messy logging operation would ruin the use and enjoyment of this pristine treasure. For what….to make a quick buck??? This is a very very bad idea.

  4. Bill says:

    I’m wondering why there would be any logging at all around the lake. Why not just leave it natural? It’s a park…