LWF Executive Director to LWA members: let’s work together

The following presentation was made by Karen Burnett-Kurie, Executive Director of the Lake Wentworth Foundation, to attendees at the President’s Meeting of the Lake Wentworth Association on July 12, 2014.

Thank you for inviting me to your meeting and providing this opportunity to introduce myself and update you on the activities of the LWF.

It is a pleasure to get to know the LWA, the sister organization I have heard so much about. You are obviously the older and better known sister. Frequently when I introduce myself as the new Executive Director of the LWF, the response is something to the effect of: “That’s great. Welcome. I’m a member of the LWA. It’s a great organization.”

However, the Lake Wentworth Foundation is growing up and has changed a lot in the last five years. We’ve taken on new initiatives, including land conservation with stewardship of 11 important land parcels in the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed, as well as working with the town and state in developing a Wentworth/Crescent watershed management plan.

This management plan is not sitting on a shelf. The LWF has been awarded a second grant that will result in best management solutions at three high-priority sites in the watershed: 1) behind Trites on Center Street; 2) along Route 109 near the State Park, where the road is very close to the lake shore; and 3) along South Main Street, where engineering design work will soon be under way to deal with stormwater that is presently flowing into Crescent.

You can get an idea of some of the work that will be done under the current $278,000 initiative if you check out the work being done for by Bartlett Tree on their new property on Center St. They have taken on the expense and effort of installing retention basins, riprap, and swales to slow and filter stormwater runoff, and they have also reduced the amount of impervious surface on the lot. We should all appreciate the work Bartlett is doing because we will all benefit from the resulting reduction of phosphorus, sediment, and other contaminants entering Fernald Brook.

Hiring an Executive Director is a big step forward for the LWF. The Board of Trustees recognized that the Foundation needed the focus and structure that an Executive Director would provide in order to keep growing and to stay on track for decreasing phosphorus in Lake Wentworth by 15% over the next 10 years. An Executive Director will help to build LWF collaboration with the town and other organizations such as the LWA; will expand water quality monitoring into the lake’s streams, and land conservation monitoring; and will pursue opportunities to conserve additional high-impact parcels in the watershed.

Of course, the hiring of an Executive Director, the setting up of an office, and additional programming requires additional financial resources. I would ask you to consider supporting the LWF’s efforts with a tax-exempt donation.

You can also do your part by creating vegetative buffers along your shoreline, eliminating the fertilizing of lawns (or considering alternatives to a lawn altogether), servicing your septic system regularly, and replacing it when needed, as well as properly maintaining your camp road and other impervious surfaces to manage stormwater runoff.

Finally, you can help by volunteering for watershed management projects or educational outreach, and attending upcoming programs.

Join the excitement and help us as we strive to maintain healthy waters as well as open lands in our watershed.

Feel free to email me at karenbk@lakewentworthfoundation.org; or call 603-534-0222. I also invite you to stop by the LWF office (over the liquor store in Clark Plaza) on any Monday or Wednesday to share your ideas and concerns. And you can attend our annual meeting August, 16, 2014, at the Wolfeboro Public Library.

Reining in our rainy summer

A simple rain garden using native plantings slows runoff from rainfall and snowmelt. Less runoff reaching lakes and streams means phosphorus in the water to feed algae and weeds.

A simple rain garden using native plantings slows runoff from rainfall and snowmelt. Less runoff reaching lakes and streams means less phosphorus in the water to feed algae and weeds.

So, with recent heavy rains, you may be asking yourself: How can I manage ponding and runoff as well as enhance my property? Here’s the answer we came up with for our shoreline home.

Our property has long had an area where water accumulates near the foundation of the house. This wet area eventually drains toward the shoreline, which has no lawn and is thick with hemlocks and blueberries. We wanted to hold the water away from our foundation as well as slow its way to the lake.

Our new rain garden has accomplished those two objectives. It is also a beautiful area that complements the surrounding woods and paths.

Employing river birch, blueberry bushes, ferns, and some water loving flowers, the rain garden is both beautiful and, of course, practical. Our foundation is now out of the water, and the garden has slowed the flow of rainwater running to the lake by giving the shoreland a chance to absorb and filter excessive rainfall.

I know this area will be even more beautiful as the new plants extend their absorbent root systems.

As our experience shows, rain gardens offer a practical and attractive way to protect our streams and lakes by managing excessive, fast-moving runoff.

Foundation hires an executive director

Protection of the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed takes a big step forward this year with the hiring of Karen Burnett-Kurie as the first Executive Director of the Lake Wentworth Foundation. The LWF, the sister organization to the Lake Wentworth Association, has in the past five years taken the lead in efforts to identify and manage stormwater runoff into Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake.

Karen comes to the Lake Wentworth Foundation with a broad background in program administration, grants/funds management, and science/environmental education. She has extensive experience working with teams of volunteers and collaborating with community organizations.

In her new role, Karen will help oversee construction of the EPA-funded stormwater capture facilities on Fernald Brook; assist the LWF Board of Trustees with fundraising for the Foundation’s projects; serve as a liaison to town and state officials as well as to the Lake Wentworth Association and other conservation organizations; recruit and direct volunteers working on Foundation projects; and provide communications and outreach to the community.

Most recently Karen served as the Educational Program Coordinator at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space at UNH. She organized programs that shared the Institute’s research with audiences of all ages, focusing in particular on NASA funded research and instrument development projects.

Prior to that, Karen worked at the Essex County (Mass.) Community Foundation as Grants and Funds Manager, starting as the manager of the Environmental Stewardship Initiative, which focused on smart growth. She eventually directed 75 funds, eight grant review committees, and the yearly distribution of almost one million dollars in funding.

At FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) in Manchester, Karen organized a far-flung network of 65 university and organizational partners providing robotics programs and competitions to thousands of students. She also managed grant support to teams, partners and competitions and recruited and supported hundreds of volunteers at international events.

Karen’s abilities in relationship-building, outreach initiatives, financial management, fund development, grant writing and reporting, and coordination of large, complex programs will be invaluable to the Foundation. Her record of improving organizational effectiveness through training, research, evaluation and management will be a great asset as the Lake Wentworth Foundation works with state and local agencies and the Lake Wentworth Association to protect the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed.

Karen will work from the Foundation’s leased office space in Clark Plaza.

Foundation, Town share $120K environmental grant

The Lake Wentworth Foundation and the Town of Wolfeboro have won approval of a $120,000 grant for stormwater mitigation in the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed. News of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s release of the Watershed Assistance Grant comes from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), which is responsible for disbursement and management of funds made available by the federal agency under the Clean Water Act.

The grant money will be combined with approximately $25,000 in cash from the Lake Wentworth Foundation and some $125,000 in donated time and material from the town, Foundation volunteers, and project partners.

The project proposes work on three of the top-ranked stormwater problem sites identified by the recently completed Wentworth/Crescent watershed management plan. That work will consist of:

  • Several large stormwater treatment structures behind the Trites automotive dealership in order to intercept stormwater before it enters Fernald Brook and Lake Wentworth
  • Shoreline/roadside stabilization and infiltration structures (referred to as BMPs – for best management practices) along Governor Wentworth Highway (Route 109) where it runs adjacent to Lake Wentworth
  • The design and permitting of a series of stormwater treatment structures to treat runoff from South Main Street prior to discharge into Crescent Lake

The project represents the second collaborative effort by the Town of Wolfeboro and the Lake Wentworth Foundation and their partners. It builds on the recently completed management plan for the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed.

The management plan, completed in 2012, determined that the watershed’s streams, as well as highly developed shoreline properties, can carry sediment and nutrients – particularly phosphorus – from stormwater runoff and can adversely affect water quality in the lakes. Over the past two decades, yearly water quality testing under the auspices of the University of New Hampshire has shown an increase in algae and low levels of oxygen in Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake as a result of these sediment and nutrient loadings. An invasion of variable milfoil in both lakes is also thought to be made worse by increased phosphorus levels.

Based on this analysis, the watershed management plan established a goal of reducing phosphorus levels in Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake by 15% over a period of 10 years. Using the proposed BMPs, the second phase of the watershed management plan anticipates an annual reduction of approximately 44 lbs. of phosphorus per year, approximately 9% of the total pollutant reduction goal.

Given the Wolfeboro area’s dependence on high-quality waters to draw visitors and seasonal residents, the effort to stem the flow of pollutants can be viewed as critical to the community’s continued long-term prosperity.

Implementation of the environmental projects will be overseen by Wolfeboro Director of Planning and Development Rob Houseman; Department of Public Works Director Dave Ford; and Foundation President Jack O’Connell. Technical assistance will come from Wolfeboro resident Don Kretchmer, a certified lake manager; Bob Craycraft, Program Coordinator of UNH Cooperative Extension; and Steve Landry, Merrimack Watershed Supervisor, NHDES. Houseman will also serve as project manager and fiscal agent for the effort.

The Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed occupies approximately 35.6 square miles of land and water, mostly in Wolfeboro but with smaller areas in New Durham and Brookfield. It consists of large areas of non-developed land, with some small isolated urban areas and residential homes/summer camps along the shorelines of the two lakes. Fourteen streams, totaling 54 miles in combined length, drain these developed areas into the lakes.

In order to meet the targeted 15% phosphorus reduction in the lakes over the next 10 years, the Town of Wolfeboro and Lake Wentworth Foundation anticipate implementing additional phases of the watershed management plan.

Watershed plan spawns stormwater mitigation initiatives

The newly completed watershed management plan for Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake has set the stage for a vigorous effort to control stormwater runoff near the two lakes.

In a follow-on to the $150,000 management plan completed in 2012, the Lake Wentworth Foundation and the Town of Wolfeboro are partnering to secure a $120,000 follow-up grant from the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). That money, if awarded, is expected to be used to implement two stormwater reduction projects near Lake Wentworth and possibly advance a third initiative near Crescent Lake.

The selected projects were among the highest ranked in a list of some 100 identified sources of stormwater runoff around the two lakes and their tributaries.

One project in the area of Fernald Brook in North Wolfeboro would result in the construction of four stormwater capture and mitigation structures that would reduce pollution from some 50 acres comprising properties on either side of Route 28.

A second effort would aim to reduce the effects of runoff from the exposed roadside where Route 109 runs along the shore of Lake Wentworth.

A final project, which may receive funding for final engineering work, would deal with substantial runoff from South Main Street that currently runs down to Crescent Lake, carrying debris and other pollutants from the roadway down to the lake.

A preliminary application for funding was submitted to NHDES in early October and has resulted in an invitation to submit a detailed project description in December.

The grant monies, if awarded, would need to be matched with some $80,000 in cash and in-kind effort from the Foundation and the Town over the projected two-year span of the project.