Watershed Outdoor Week Highlights
Our second annual Watershed Outdoor Week (W.O.W.) has come and gone with plenty of happy campers impatiently waiting to sign up again next year. This concept was born out of a partnership with Tapply-Thompson Community Center and the Newfound Lake Region Association. When considering how to expand our partnership, we found it pretty easy to coordinate a week of camp that encompasses both of our missions. The Newfound Watershed, NLRA’s focus area of conservation, has so much to offer the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The WOW camp attempts to give a grand tour of the lake, islands, mountains, waterfalls and forests within the boundary of this area. The underlying goal is to have this group of kids experience nature and learn to appreciate its many facets through hands-on and curiosity driven education. We visited the Grey Rocks Conservation Area, Sculptured Rocks Geologic Site, AMC’s Cardigan Lodge, Wellington State Park’s Cliff Island, Newfound Audubon Center, and the Slim Baker Lodge. We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful area and appreciate all of the great guides and helpers that made this week so special!
Newfound YCC and Water Watchdogs
By Liza Tetley, NLRA Summer Staff
The Newfound Youth Conservation Corps (Newfound YCC) and Water Watchdog program is an effort to work with homeowners in the Newfound Watershed to protect the quality of our land and water by preventing stormwater erosion and pollution. The Newfound YCC are NLRA staff trained in low-impact stormwater prevention practices, and “Water Watchdogs” are local landowners that put these practices into action on their own property. As part of our Three-year Plan, the NLRA will support landowner best practices with free labor and consulting, while owners pay for materials and promise to maintain their property.
By working collaboratively with individual homeowners and local suppliers, we hope to enhance ongoing conversations and encourage positive actions about the importance of preventing non-point source pollution.
Launched this summer, Phase One included sending NLRA newsletters and delivering informational door-hangers to the ~1,400 properties located within 250 feet of Newfound Lake or one of its tributaries. The response was wholly positive and inspiring, with many exciting conversations and more than 20 landowners requesting property assessments! Phase two, started this August, includes site visits and evaluations to identify stormwater reduction options.
Thus far, our team (Liza Tetley and Geoff MacDonald, both recent PSU environmental science and policy graduates) has visited four properties, and homeowner enthusiasm is high! Land owners and the YCC team are recognizing runoff issues and finding solutions together.
You can learn more about the Newfound YCC program at www.Newfoundlake.org . If you have stormwater problems such as driveway erosion, basement flooding, or weeds and sediment growing on your beach, or if you have any questions about becoming a Water Watchdog on your own property, contact us at NLRA.Andrew@metrocast.net, or 603-744-8689.
From Hebron to Bristol – An Epic Swim
(by local reporter Donna Rhodes, with permission)
HEBRON – A distance of more than six miles, potential cramps, dehydration and a brisk wind were the least of the challenges faced by swimmer Mike Welsch when he set out to swim the length of Newfound Lake, a feat a few others have accomplished over the years. The biggest challenge was that he was doing it as an amputee.
Welsch, a 57-year-old from Shirley, Mass., was a “grunt rifleman” in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Lejeune in 1980 when a night out on the town cost him his military career and altered the rest of his life. “I was out drinking one night, riding a motorcycle, when I got into an accident and lost my left leg,” he said. “It’s something I’ll pay for the rest of my life and I really want to get the message out there that you shouldn’t drink and drive. It can change everything for yourself or someone else.”
His life has gone on with the same strength and determination that made him a Marine. Welsch said he has been a strong swimmer all his life, both with and without the aid of his left leg, therefore he began to challenge himself several years ago through long distance swimming.
Among his many successful endeavors was a 1990 swim around Manhattan Island in New York, a distance of approximately 31 miles. It was perhaps the quickest way to get around Manhattan, he and his friends joked. He then decided a few years ago that he wanted to swim all the major lakes in New Hampshire and set off to conquer the distance of Lake Winnipesauke, Lake Sunapee and Squam Lake.
It was at Squam Lake where he connected with Newfound Lake Region Association’s Program Director Andrew Veilleux and Executive Director Boyd Smith. Together they began to plan Welsch’s swim on Newfound Lake. This past July he “tested the waters” with a swim across the width of the lake, from the ledges on the west side to the Mayhew Turnpike. With that accomplishment under his belt, Welsch decided on a bigger and better challenge- a swim from Hebron to Bristol.
On Aug. 17 he and his friends Tammy Scott and Bruce Benton traveled to Grey Rocks Conservation Area in Hebron where Veilleux and the NLRA’s pontoon boat Madelaine awaited them. A stiff wind that morning was in his favor. He observed that the direction could possibly help him along on his journey and so he began to prepare for an estimated six hours of swimming. “I’ll start out swimming for about 45 minutes then I’ll stop for a break and to hydrate,” Welsch explained. “After that I’ll stop after every 30 minutes for fluids and nutrition so I don’t hit a wall.”
His bag was packed with not only drinks and sandwiches but some pharmaceutical supplies as well. He said stretching his muscles during his breaks was important to going the distance but he also had ibuprofen and potassium to deal with any aches or cramps that can occur during any long-distance swim. “Other than that, it’s just one stroke at a time,” he said.
With water and air temperatures both in the low-70’s, he tugged on his swim cap, unfastened his prosthetic leg then slid quietly into the water off Sleepy Hollow Beach just before 8:30 that morning. Veilleux was positioned at the controls of the pontoon boat, keeping it on pace with Welsch while Benton and Scott kept a close eye on his progress.
At times that seemingly simple task became difficult though as huge white caps surged on the open lake, reaching nearly three-feet in height at times. “He’s going to need to wear a fluorescent cap in the future because his white swim cap kept blending in with the waves out there,” Scott later said.
Everything else went Welsch’s way though. With no major issues and a good push from the winds, he surprised even himself when he swam up to Avery-Crouse Beach in just four hours and 42 seconds, two hours ahead of his expected arrival. “This is a great lake but really all the credit goes to these guys (Veilleux and Smith) at NLRA for making it all happen,” Welsch said as he sat on the sandy shoreline and caught his breath.
The waves, he added, were amazing at times, reminding him of past ocean swims. But, he pushed on with the breaststroke and some freestyle swimming, riding those waves when he could and keeping his focus on the finish. “I saw this red boat here as we got toward the end and I just kept watching it get closer. That helped a lot,” he said.
Looking back out across the lake toward the pass between Pike’s Point and Mayhew Island, he shook his head, saying it was hard to imagine that just a short time earlier he had been swimming through there. His friend agreed. “If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Benton said as he congratulated him once again.
Welsch had no future swims in mind after conquering Newfound Lake last week but with more big lakes in the state still to be crossed off his list, other opportunities await when he’s ready for his next challenge. “All I can say right now is that the worst part of today was getting in the water this morning and the best part was climbing up on this beach this afternoon. As for anything else, we’ll wait and see,” he said with a grin.
7th Annual Run Your Buns Off 4.2 Miler
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Come Run Your Buns Off this Labor Day weekend in beautiful Bristol, NH and reward yourself at the finish line with one of New Hampshire’s Best sticky buns! This unique, fun-filled 4.2 mile course starts/finishes near the shore of beautiful Newfound Lake and you will experience a community event at its finest. Now in its 7th year we are excited to see this race continue to grow. We will again offer professional chip timing, our HUGE raffle filled with thousands of dollars worth of prizes and of course, delicious sticky buns! So grab your friends whether they run or walk and help us raise funds for this year’s community beneficiaries (Newfound Lake Region Association and Slim Baker Foundation). We look forward to running our buns off with you again this Labor Day weekend!