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2020 Annual Meeting Wrap-Up

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Board meetings began for the 2020 season on April 13th with our first meeting taking place via Zoom. Hopes were that as the year progressed, we would be able to meet in person, but as we all know, for health and safety reasons, that did not happen. Every subsequent meeting was held on Zoom.

At our April meeting, we learned that Lake Hosts were going to be deemed “essential personnel” by Governor Sununu. This was good news to us, as Lake Hosts are a vital link in discouraging exotic weeds and larvae from hitchhiking rides into our waters. At this point, we were still awaiting our grant from NH Lakes, but planning and hiring of both paid and volunteer personnel was in the forefront. We had also noted that the parking lot at the boat launch was full nearly every day. Due to COVID19 travel restrictions outside of New England, people were staying local, and wanting to get outside. It was also decided that Lake Host manager, Cindi Harrington would be the contact person for the campground so that if they needed help with training people or inspections, she would be able to help. Lake Host volunteer Wendi Tremblay also offered to help in the event Cindi was unable to get there. More information on Lake Host 2020 is in a separate article.

President Deb Winter suggested at the April meeting that Webmaster Zak Downing put on Facebook and our web site information on how to install “rain garden,” (also called a swale garden). These collect runoff and help prevent nutrients from going from surrounding land into the lake. This was accomplished. There is also an article on swale gardens in the SLA Spring 2020 Newsletter.


WATER TESTING

A large hurdle we faced with water testing during the 2020 season was that the lab at UNH where our samples were tested was closed from the time of the first meeting until late July, and we had no idea how long it would be until it opened. Water testing began in mid-May, mostly due to the water temperature still being too cold to allow weed growth in earnest. When started, all that could be done was using the secchi dish for clarity, and taking regular temperature readings. By the time we had the June meeting, water tester Pat Gingrich was expecting to receive freezable, opaque bottles from UNH to store water samples for testing in. The only thing missing was the acid that preserves each sample, and the US Postal Service will not accept that acid for transport. We did get a few test sessions done, however, and Pat Gingrich has a separate article in this newsletter about water testing for the 2020 summer months.

As our meetings progressed into the late spring, there was growing concern about maintenance at the boat launch. A large hole had opened up that could cause sprained ankles, and there were 3 dead trees that could pose a danger to people if those trees fell down. We called the town about the hole and were told it was the responsibility of Fish and Game. Fish and Game said it was the Town’s matter. We got the same response with the trees. Matt Niswender and his son, Tyler, finally filled the hole with road gravel. Thank You to Matt and Tyler. One of the dead trees that was in the way of boat trailers turning, was finally removed in late August. But the other 2 dead trees still stand, with state officials hesitant to remove them for fear animals living in them could be injured or killed.

FUNDRAISING

In August, Treasurer, Janet Shaw sent out postcards, informing members who normally paid at annual meetings, that we still needed dues to pay for the Lake Host Program and Water Testing. 80% of these came back with checks. Another idea floated was to charge non-SLA members a fee for the Boat Parade, although how to actually enforce this would be an issue. Zak Downing noted that he had suggested a PayPal donation prior to the 2020 boat parade, and 3 checks came in from that request. Selling hats or T-shirts was discussed, as was perhaps a T-shirt to those who donate $100 or more. Raising dues was discussed but the consensus on this was we might lose members if we do. We could always make it known that $25 is a minimum donation for membership and if anyone wants to give more they can.

MARINE PATROL

Marine Patrol was active on the lake this summer, pulling over unregistered boats, illegal jetskis, speeders, and those not following “no wake rules,” which includes staying between the markers in the narrow areas. They also check to see that operators have their boating licenses with them. Three sections of Marine Patrol’s responsibility are:

  1. Operations.

  2. Aids to Navigation, (ie: buoys and channel markers).

  3. Boater Education Program.

If you see violations, their phone is (877) 642-9700.


SPRINGTIME DEAD FISH

During the spring, we had an unusually large number of calls regarding dead fish on the lake. We contacted Fish and Game and were assured it had to do with the cold damp spring, and not anything more than that. The majority of deaths were sunfish. They spawn early, and hence are most affected by low spring temperatures.


SOCIAL MEDIA USE

In addition to keeping our web site updated, the Swains Lake Association uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to put out boating and safety tips on a regular basis. We have over 600 “Likes” on our Facebook page. We hope to find ways to expand and reach the community of boaters who use our lake but do not live here.


MEMBER POLLS

We took a few polls last year to get a feeling of what our members want us to be doing. The top interest is water quality, followed by loon preservation and health, then continuing community activities such as the boat parade. Further concerns in order are: Increased boating activity (visitors) on the lake, and finally, an increase in "obnoxious behavior.” We believe that having the boat launch monitored by lake hosts is paramount in protecting our water quality, and helping to guard against invasive weeds and animal larvae that could destroy our lake. That said, we are hoping for more people to join the staff of lake hosts for 2021. In 2020, we more than doubled our visitors who use other lakes in the area that have variable milfoil and water chestnut. We found that a large number of these visitors own newly purchased boats and are not familiar with cleaning their vessels between lakes. We expect these high visitor numbers to continue in 2021. We had all-day coverage on weekends; as well as afternoon-evening coverage on Monday’s, Thursday’s and Fridays. But mornings and early afternoons on Mondays and Fridays had no coverage. Tuesdays and Wednesdays had no coverage all day. And all the while, the parking lot was full! The more volunteers and paid staff we have, the more coverage we get, and fewer hours our staff has give. One does not have to be a member of the Swains Lake Association to be a Lake Host. In fact, many of our staff members last year did not even live on a lake! Our boat launch is owned and operated by the State, so we have no control when it comes to putting limits on entries.


We also expect to work with the Loon Preservation Committee again this year in following our loon population’s health, and stability.


It is also our hope to not have to meet on Zoom the entire year in 2021, but as we all know, that too is beyond our control. Visit our website and social media pages to keep abreast of happenings as they occur.

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