At the 2011 NH Planners Association Annual Conference held on Thursday June 9, 2011 in Keene, NH, the Lakes Region Planning Commission was awarded the 2011 New Hampshire Planners Association Project of the Year for the “Winnipesaukee Gateway”.
This award is granted to a project, program or tool that is a significant advantage to the cause of planning. Awardees emphasize results and demonstrate how a project, program, or tool implemented a plan. The “Winnipesaukee Gateway” (www.winnigateway.org) is unique in that it is the first “web-based” watershed management plan to be approved by the NH Department of Environmental Services; there is no paper document collecting dust on a shelf.
The completion of the first web-based subwatershed management plan and the development of the “Winnipesaukee Gateway” website represent a remarkable achievement. For the first time, there is a resource dedicated to the natural resource, environmental, and planning issues facing a watershed that encompasses over 300,000 acres. This project allows for continued involvement, development, and sharing of information and resources for residents, planning officials, community members, and other nonprofit organizations and groups.
However, the Winnipesaukee Gateway is more than just a website. The Gateway represents the desire to create a flexible, informative tool that can deliver large amounts of constantly changing information to key audiences, which will educate and promote awareness and stewardship of the natural resources in the Lake Winnipesaukee watershed among the public and broader community. The first completed subwatershed management plan represents the involvement and cooperative efforts of many partners including the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, UNH Center for Freshwater Biology, Plymouth State University Center for the Environment, North Country Resource Conservation & Development Area Council, and the NH Dept. of Environmental Services. In addition, key to the final plan was the involvement of the municipalities of Meredith, Laconia, and Gilford, who worked together on watershed and water quality issues, acknowledging that Lake Winnipesaukee is a shared resource, of which the communities share the benefits as well as the associated risks from degradation of the resource, and therefore share in the responsibility of effective stewardship.
Funding for the project was made possible through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the NH Department of Environmental Services Clean Water Act Section 319 Funds.