To the editor: State updates action on Lowell Lake

Master Planning work is progressing at Lowell Lake State Park in Londonderry with 2019 field work wrapped up, public input survey on design alternatives complete and further analysis under way.

The Lowell Lake Master Plan concept design alternatives were presented at an open house in South Londonderry on July 25.  A public feedback survey was open for 60 days following the event.

The Springfield Stewardship team of the state Agency of Natural Resources recently reviewed feedback received. Leadership from the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation will be doing the same soon.  The Stewardship Team reviewed survey responses and suggested changes for environmental and regulatory compliance and compatibility with land management goals and missions; the FPR leadership review will consider the same issues.

FPR recognizes the unique role that Lowell Lake State Park plays as a community recreational resource in the greater Londonderry area, and as a significant component in the state’s recreational and conservation portfolio in the Vermont State Park system.

Public meetings held

To date, FPR has conducted two public meetings and attended meetings with Lowell Lake Concerned Citizens, officials from the Town of Londonderry, the Londonderry Select Board and the area’s state representatives.  Most Recently, FPR facilitated a discussion with the Londonderry Conservation Commission and  the state Department of Environmental Conservation Lakes and Ponds Program with a goal of improving park visitor education about aquatic invasive species to minimize the threat that boaters pose by potentially introducing these species to Lowell Lake.

Acoustic monitoring was conducted during the summer of 2019 to detect the presence of Northern Long-Eared Bats, a species on the federal and state endangered species lists.  Acoustic monitoring took place in July and August and confirmed the presence of this species, and others, feeding within Lowell Lake State Park.  We continue to work with Vermont Fish and Wildlife to design and schedule more research in summer 2020 to determine if the endangered bats are roosting within the park, and what that means for management decisions and activity.

FPR remains committed to a careful and thoughtful approach to finalizing design alternatives that will improve environmental protection while adding needed visitor amenities, improving parking and traffic flow within the park, and investigating the best possible use of the Lowell Lake Camps Historic District, if reuse of some of these buildings is determined to be appropriate.  No decisions have been made on what will be included in the final Master Plan.

Design alternatives reviewed

Previously, the design alternatives have been reviewed for environmental and regulatory compliance and alignment with Agency, Department and State Parks division missions. These reviews were conducted by the Springfield Stewardship Team, Natural Resources Board staff, Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Management staff, staff from the Division for Historic Preservation and staff from the Vermont Land Trust, which holds an easement on a portion of the property.

Lowell Lake State Park was established in 1977 when the former Lowell Lake Lodge property was acquired by the state for recreational access to Lowell Lake. Additional property (the White parcel) was acquired in 1996 with the assistance of the Vermont Land Trust after a private home development on the western shore of the lake received Act 250 permitting but was never constructed.

Following this acquisition, a two-year, long-range planning process was undertaken to complete a general management plan, which was adopted in 1999 and included 14 public meetings.

Lowell Lake State Park currently encompasses 356 acres and provides opportunities for fishing, picnicking, hiking, swimming and nature observation.  Following a competitive bidding process in the summer of 2018, FPR selected SE Group and partners Cushman Design Group, Engineering Ventures and CHM Government Services to complete the Master Plan.

Master Planning is under way now to investigate options to make improvements for visitor safety, visitor experience, resource protection, and to explore alternatives for reutilization of cabins that came with the 1996 acquisition.

Ethan Phelps
Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: CommentaryLetters to the Editor

About the Author:

RSSComments (2)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Doug Friant says:

    It is exciting that plans are moving forward for Lowell Lake, it will be fun to see the next round of proposals.

    Hopefully the revised master plan will take all comments and ideas into consideration, including those that see the community benefit of restoring and using the existing buildings while while protecting the park’s natural resources.

  2. Robert Nied says:

    An update from Vermont Forests, Parks & Recreation (FP&R) on the proposed development of Lowell Lake is appreciated. Given that the master planning process has been ongoing for some time, it would be helpful for FP&R to finally acknowledge community opposition to many aspects of their proposed plan, especially the development of overnight lodging at the lake. During public meetings and “open house” presentations, the State has received a clear and consistent message from those who know and appreciate Lowell Lake, including community members and three separate conservation commissions – preserve the natural character of the lake and prioritize the protection of the diverse animal and plant species that it supports. More specifically, the state is aware that a clear majority of Lowell Lake users do not support trading the natural experience currently offered by Lowell Lake for cabins, event spaces, bath houses and overcrowding. The recent survey responses echoed that message. FP&R has asked the question many times, in many forms and has received the same answer from the community. Let’s hope they are finally ready to listen.