Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Public access to the big lake

DICK PINNEY December 15. 2012 8:05PM

We've been a staunch supporter of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department for many years, especially their law enforcement, fish and wildlife management and information divisions. The one division that we've thought a bit lacking was its land and access division, mostly because of its inability to provide a state-owned, no fee access and parking area at Lake Winnipesaukee. We're not part of the "NAMBY-not-in-my-backyard group." Living on the shores of Great Bay, we were always upset because of the lack of a suitable, all-tide public access for the size boats that use the bay.

But now we couldn't be happier or prouder of our fish and game department and especially director Glenn Normendeau for being very creative in purchasing an ongoing launching, parking and also both docking and shoreline fishing opportunities at Alton Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Why do we say creative? Because in the past many plans for establishing access in some of our larger bodies of water, especially Lake Winnipesaukee, were blocked by the lake associations - and those NAMBY people like we previously mentioned.

Creative because by purchasing an ongoing land use, there were no impact studies required or any other maze of obligatory red-tape issues to go through. It's just going to be a very simple transition from a privately owned access area to a public owned one.

Although by doing this, it has taken away one of our favorite "whipping-dogs," we are incredibly proud and happy that our state will now finally be able to show its best face to both visitors and residents.

We give a big thanks and tip of our hat to fellow outdoor writer Bill Carney (Hawkeye Magazine) for providing this information. And while we're on the subject of some of the good work Carney has been up to by keeping the sporting public up to date on much of the legislation proposed in the NH Legislature that will impact them. He's now on a push to get more sportsmen to join the NH Wildlife Federation that would enhance their power to influence the legislators.

At one time the Federation had a part-time lobbyist in Concord that worked a lot of magic in promoting sportsmen's and conservationist's issues but now because of steady decrease in membership, Bill Carney has voluntarily done as much as he's physically able to, but he needs some help.

Now for just a few words about the Great Bay access that's lacking. At one time when the new bridge was being built across Little Bay (Route 16) there was an agreement that an all-tide, public access boat ramp and parking area would be also built. The boat ramp is far from being all-tide. In fact, it's a great mud trap for the unknowing because to launch at low tide you have to back your vehicle so far into the water that getting stuck or hung up is almost a certainty.

The so-called all-tide Fish and Game boat access on Route 108 in Stratham has a nice parking area and you can launch at all tides. Fighting the strong currents there has created some dangerous conditions. That notwithstanding, they fail to put notice up that, at high tide, boats with a windshield or center console will not be able to cross under the bridge at Great Bay. So if you pass under the bridge at low tide and try to return at high tide so you can get back to the boat launch, you're out of luck.

One other knock on this place is that non-Fish and Game users, especially kayak users, have virtually taken over on many weekends. These people do not financially support this access area and tend to ignore the signs of where they should park and where they should unload and load. Just another example of how the Fish and Game license buyers are forced to subsidize the general public who don't seem to either appreciate or respect this gift. But that's another whole story.

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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