40th annual Loon Festival today in Moultonborough


A young loon chick enjoys a snack while out for a ride.  Loon chicks ride on their parent's backs for their first 7-10 days for protection and to help with temperature regulation as well. Photo courtesy of Kittie Wilson.


MOULTONBOROUGH — More than 300 people are expected to flock to the Loon Center today for the 40th annual Loon Festival. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. members of the Loon Preservation Committee invites the public to celebrate the state's loon population.

The common loon has always been an important part of New Hampshire, according to Harry Vogel, senior biologist and executive director of the Loon Preservation Committee. There are many threats to the birds' survival.  In response to past declines in the loon population, Vogel and nearly 800 other volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure that loons continue to thrive here.

The committee has been putting manmade nesting rafts into the lake since the 1970s, providing loons a safe place to nest away from shore. Last year the committee surpassed 100 nests in the water. More than one in four chicks hatched each year are born on one of the rafts, according to Vogel.

“What we are trying to do is make sure that every year we encourage these birds and keep them alive,” said Vogel. “We want them to live, which may mean giving them alternate nesting sites or peace for chicks when they are born.”

That peace comes in the form of ropes placed around rafts that have nests on them. These ropes help keep boats, kayaks and swimmers away from the nesting areas. Oftentimes people are interested in viewing the nests and get too close, which can have negative effects on the chicks. If people get too close to nests, the loons may abandon their chicks, or become distracted and forget to feed them. Giving loons space is essential to ensure chicks will survive the season.

Other improvements made to ensure loons have a better chance at flourishing include the banning of lead sinkers or jigs, which were commonly used by fishermen. Biologists examining the cause of deaths for loons had found that an overwhelming number of them had perished due to ingesting lead objects. With the elimination of this toxin, loons and other water born animals are expected to have a better chance of survival.

However, some of the factors that impact a loon's survival are out of human control, according to Vogel. Major storms can destroy many nests that have been created on the lake shores.

“We aren’t sure exactly how loons are doing this year because for all we know there could be a thunderstorm that comes in that destroys a lot of nests,” said Vogel. “We can say, though, that there have been many successful hatches and some not successful, but we are hopeful that it will be a good year for the loons.”

A better idea of how the loons have done this season will be determined in August, as by that time all chicks will have been hatched. Peak hatch is around the Fourth of July and continues throughout the month.

As part of today's Loon Festival, a loon census will be conducted this morning throughout the state, which aims to give the committee a better idea of how many loons are currently populating the waters. Following the census, the festivities will include an educational presentation with the science center featuring live animals, a biologist dunk tank, and free lunch provided by the Meredith Rotary Club. A member of the New Hampshire Senate will proclaim the day Loon Appreciation Day.

For more information about the event, call 476-5666.

  • Written by Alana Persson
  • Category: Local News
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Rain delays hay harvest

Hard to make hay unless sun shines


LACONIA -- The proverb says, “Make hay while the sun shines,” but the problem is the sun hasn’t been shining. Over the last six weeks, there have been only three, three-day periods without rain, making it very hard for farmers to cut and bail their hay.

A 72-hour period without rain is generally needed to allow cut hay to cure properly for bailing. A bail of wet hay tends to get moldy and becomes unsuitable for animal feed.

Jeff Keyser, who manages Ramblin' Vewe Farm in the rolling hills of Gilford, said two dry days will sometimes suffice, but even that has been hard to come by this year.

“We're lucky if we get one day of decent weather,” he said Friday as dark clouds loomed over a 5-acre field that hasn't been cut this year.

Heavy rains also leave muddy fields that are difficult for farm machines.

“The problem is the ground is so wet, it's tough to get on a piece without rutting it up,” Keyser said. “I'm not getting enough dry time between stretches of rain and the fields are soaking wet.”

He normally does his first cut in early June and a second one later in the summer. Keyser has been able to cut hay on some of the fields he manages, and he's waiting to do it on others.

“Tuesday, I went to Barnstead and it's amazing the hay that hasn't been mowed down there,” said Keyser, who manages a farm placed into a trust by businessman Dick Persons.

Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, in Gray, Maine, said that over the last six weeks, there have been only three, 72-hour periods without rain as measured at Lakeport in Laconia.

Concord has seen 24.93 inches of rain so far this year, or 4.09 inches above normal. A monitoring station in Laconia has recorded 27.13 inches of rain year to date, also about 4 inches above average.

Carl Majewski, a food and agriculture specialist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, said wet weather has slowed the hay harvest statewide. It’s not just the higher-than-normal rainfall totals, but the fact that rain has been so frequent that farmers don’t have the sustained dry weather they needed for haying.

The wet conditions are more than just an inconvenience.

“The longer you let that grass grow, the less nutritious it becomes,” he said. “Dairy farmers look for hay with a high nutritional value. It takes a lot of energy to support milk production.

“Anything not mowed yet becomes coarse and fibrous, and won't have the same nutritional value as hay harvested earlier.”

On the positive side, once a farmer manages to cut his hay, the second crop tends to grow quickly in moist conditions.

Majewski said that despite the rain delays in the hay season, there should still be time for farmers to do two harvests this year.

The wet conditions are quite a turnaround from last year when the state was hit by a drought. The dry conditions made it easy to cut the hay, but limited growth of the crop.

A total of 53,000 acres of hay were harvested in New Hampshire last year, with a total value of $20 million, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Snowmobile association gets new executive director

NH Snowmobile Association gets new executive director



TILTON — The new executive director of N.H. Snowmobile Association comes to the job with a strong technology background and is anxious to tackle a rebuilding of the organization’s website, but said maintaining programs and events will remain a priority.

Dan Gould, who came on board July 1, has been in the newspaper business for 35 years, serving as staff photographer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for more than 20 years before moving into a management role as multimedia editor and chief photographer for the last 10 years.

He also served two years as vice-president and 14 years as president of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, where he was editor of its print publication and served as webmaster for 10 years.

Gould is filling the vacancy created by the resignation last spring of Monica Pettengill Jenkins.

“I’ve known a lot of the members of the N.H. Snowmobile Association for years, and they’ve known me, so they asked to interview for the job,” he said.

“There’s a lot of projects I want to tackle going forward, but we need to strategize on what projects to get done. Rebuilding a website is a large project to undertake, but I was heavily involved with the web team at the Telegram & Gazette, and can use my expertise wherever it’s needed.”

He said funding is always a challenge for nonprofit organizations, but the association and its member clubs are well-organized and have a number of events during the year to raise money, not just for themselves but for local charities. The Ride-In for easterseals is a longstanding event that snowmobilers have participated in.

In announcing his move to the Massachusetts association, he described coming to New Hampshire as landing his dream job, allowing him “to move within a pinecone toss of the White Mountains.”

He wrote, “The crew at the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association are exceptional, and just as excited as I am. We speak the same language and aim at the same target. They have big plans for the future and so do I.”

07-14 NHSA

Dan Gould, new executive director of the NH Snowmobile Association, took part in a snowmobile expedition in the Ural Mountains of Russia last year.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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