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Board & Annual Meeting Review

Your Swains Lake Association, (SLA), Board members began their monthly meetings for 2019 on May 6th, and met monthly through September. This included the Annual Meeting in August. Before that first meeting, however, President Deb Winter and Lake Host Manager Cindi Harrington, were busy filling out paperwork for the grant to obtain funding for this year’s Lake Host Program. Approval was announced in late April, so planning for both hiring and obtaining volunteers for the summer season had already begun. After some initial confusion about the training sessions, most everyone signed up for a May 14th webinar, thus not having to make the drive to Concord. However, one Lake Host member did go in person, so she picked up T-shirts, clipboards, and other materials needed to start the season. Information on the Lake Host Program is included in a separate article in this newsletter.


At this first meeting, Area Representative Pat Lenzi was given questions to pass along to the Barrington Conservation Commission that we needed answers on. They had requested each lake association in town come up with a list of such questions. One of these involved the amount of building going on and how it affects the lake. A second question was to compare the high levels of conductivity in Swains Lake with that of other area lakes to try and determine if, indeed, road salt is a factor, and to come up with a solution.


The June meeting saw a new pamphlet designed and accepted by the board, to pass along to area representatives for those in their territories. We are hoping to get new members, since many new residents may not know we exist. Distribution of this information will continue into the spring of 2020, since not every area representative had time to walk their streets and visit with neighbors this past summer.


Also discussed was changing the membership due date from a calendar year of January 1 to December 31, to a fiscal year of paying in June. This might help with paying the initial cost of the Lake Host Program. The board was split on this, with some in favor and others opposed. Those in opposition, were afraid some residents not tied to the fiscal year at their workplaces, might be confused thinking they were paying twice in one year, possibly causing us to lose some members. This topic was tabled, at least for 2019. It was agreed to ask, in newsletters, that if possible, members pay dues by April or May, rather than waiting until the annual meeting in August. Then we will have enough funding for the early Lake Host bills. It is important to remember that, although the NH Lakes Association gives us a sizable grant to have paid monitors at our boat launch, we need to match the amount given.


As of this meeting, Matt Niswender had been in touch with a member of Marine Patrol, who was planning on coming out to move some of the channel markers that were displaced by winter ice. The Loon Preservation had also contacted him to be sure we still had the needed signage if the loon pair decided to nest.


Two meetings were held August 5th, the first being an informational meeting at the campground to answer questions they have about us, and to reach out to see if we could assist them with anything. Approximately 15 people came, and most of their questions involved the bladderwort and the Lake Host Program. We were pleased to hear several of those attendees had plans to attend the annual meeting which was scheduled for the following week.


After this meeting, we had our mid-summer board meeting, where it was decided to send out a survey in the hopes of obtaining feedback on areas we were succeeding at, and areas needing improvement. Members can expect another survey this year. Please let us know how we’re doing.


Caroline Hughes, from the Loon Preservation Committee, and Marine Patrol’s Chip Doherty both spoke at our Annual Meeting, held August 10th. Ms. Hughes answered questions on possible explanations on why we lost our baby loons this year. Although people had reported them being chased, there has also been a lot of activity on our lake with other loons. The male loon of our nesting pair here on Swains Lake, was banded in 1998 at the age of 6. This is the normal age when males begin to breed. That makes him 27 now, which is the so-called top of the age span for a breeding male. It is possible that the nightly visiting loons were challenging him for his territory. If a younger loon won, the successor male would have killed the chick. As sad as this is, especially with the loon population still “threatened” here in NH, this assures those chicks from the strongest loons survive, and is the order of nature. She went on to say, the oldest known loon in NH is 32! The age of our female here on Swains lake is not known.

Officer Doherty explained there are only 4 Marine Patrol officers who monitor 52 lakes in Strafford, Rockingham, and Belmont Counties. That’s why it sometimes takes a while to respond to a call. There are a total of 33 officers in NH, and the operation is 24 / 7. This is a large decline from the 90 officers they had 10 years ago. During winter months when lakes are frozen the officers concentrate on rivers, and the ocean.


Officer Doherty explained there are only 4 Marine Patrol officers who monitor 52 lakes in Strafford, Rockingham, and Belmont Counties. That’s why it sometimes takes awhile to respond to a call. There are a total of 33 officers in NH, and the operation is 24 / 7. This is a large decline from the 90 officers they had 10 years ago. During winter months when lakes are frozen the officers concentrate on rivers, and the ocean.


Answering questions on lights that used to be on buoys, Mr. Doherty said the lights on them were put on by someone other than Marine Patrol. Most likely a lake resident who wanted them more visible at night. He told the audience they may put lights on them as long as they are attached with a tie wrap. Tampering with buoys by drilling holes in them is illegal. If water gets in through the holes it will cause the buoys to sink and need replacing. This is expensive for the state.


Other topics he covered are as follows:

Can you have your boat license on your phone as a photo? No. Marine Patrol doesn’t want to risk dropping your phone in the lake when you hand it to them to check out. You can, however, make paper copies of your license, put them in a plastic bag and leave them in your boat. Is anchoring legal in the middle of the lake where boats go faster? Yes. Anchoring is legal anywhere during the day. It is not legal at night. Is there a State speed limit on NH waters? No. Some Lake Associations have made their own restrictions but NH has nothing to do with it. Residents can petition to make these changes. Life Jacket Rules? They must be on board for boaters 13 and over. Under 13, they must be worn. Do Paddle Boarders need Life Jackets? Not if they are near their beach. But if they go out offshore, then the above rules in #4 apply.


Following Ms. Hughes and Mr. Doherty, Pat Gingrich updated the audience on water testing, giving the location of the 2 sites samples are taken from, and how it is accomplished. Water temperature is taken at the surface, and every half meter down to the lake’s bottom. The spot where a half a degree of change in the water is the “thermocline” and that is where samples are taken from and brought to UNH for analysis.


Results for this past summer have not yet been received. Data from the 2018 year had the lake status quo for water quality, but elevated numbers for “conductivity.” Conductivity is the ability of water in a lake or bay to carry an electrical current. Although this could be related to many causes, Mrs. Gingrich explained that it is known to be particularly related to road salt. The SLA has been talking to the town about making areas adjacent to town lakes “Low Salt Areas.” This would help waters immensely, but it also needs to be balanced with safety for drivers.


Zak Downing then spoke, informing those there that we have implemented the use of PayPal for those who wish to pay dues that way. Although annual dues continue to be $25 for those who pay by cash or check, due to the cost of PayPal, $30 will be charged if that avenue is used.


Our live Web Cam, showing conditions on the larger section of the lake, is in operation 24 hours seven days a week. It can be accessed by SLA members only

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The Annual Meeting for 2020 is scheduled for August 8th at the American Legion Hall, Route 9, Barrington. Registration will be at 9:30 and the meeting will begin at 10:00. The date of the 2020 Boat Parade, perhaps with a new theme, will be announced in the Spring Newsletter.


The final meeting of the year took place September 16th. Plans for the 2020 year’s Lake Host Program were discussed, as were increasing water testing from once a month to every 2 weeks, as suggested by UNH. The board is undecided on this, as it would take a toll on the few people who help with the water testing. It also increases the cost to the SLA, since each sample brought in incurs a cost. The final topic was the SLA database. We are trying to gather addresses of new lake residents and those whose memberships have lapsed, to send out a mailer encouraging residents to learn about us and join.


Minutes from all meetings are available for members to view on our website.

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