Lakes Region Profiles – The heroes of the Lakes Region

By MARY O'NEIL

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group

 

To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, ask not what the Lakes Region can do for you, ask what you can do for the Lakes Region. This area provides amazing water access, boating on numerous pristine lakes, hiking and views from breathtaking trails and mountains, four-season recreation, communities with unsurpassed amenities, towns with all the charm as those in books...the list goes on and on. For this reason, the principle behind Kennedy's words is met with substantial measures by residents and visitors alike. There is a palpable feeling of gratitude among the people who live and visit the Lakes Region. This feeling has translated into action. Here in the Lakes Region, we have conservation trusts, associations, committees, groups and individuals who contribute to preserving our abundant resources.

The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has been working to protect the area since 1979. It has conserved more than 23,000 acres in 133 properties. Miles of shoreline on Winnipesaukee, Squam, Newfound, and other waterbodies have benefitted from the trust's efforts. The LRCT has conserved 20 summits and more than 85 miles of hiking trails around the region. Some of the properties that are protected include the popular hikes up Red Hill in Moultonborough and Mount Percival and Morgan in the Holderness area. The LRCT's most extensive stewardship encompasses the buildings and more than 5,000 acres of Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains. This unique property provides historical interest and hiking opportunities in spectacular surroundings. The LRCT has guides and maps available, including Winnipesaukee paddle maps, hiking maps for Castle in the Clouds, and Homestead Forest Trail maps. The Trust's successes would not have been possible without the support of members and volunteers. For more information on the LRCT, visit www.lrct.org.

The Lake Winnipesaukee Association devotes its time to protecting the Big Lake's water quality and resources. In 2015 alone, they collected more than 200 water samples to monitor the health of the lake; continued to work closely with the NHDES, NH LAKES, and seven groups from around Winnipesaukee to combat milfoil and other invasive species; co-sponsored educational presentations on management practices and other topics relative to conservation; conducted shorefront site evaluations to provide storm-water improvement recommendations for homeowners; and engaged more than 100 children and adults in their "Floating Classroom," where they measured water quality and temperature, collected phytoplankton, and learned about the lake. The LWA says, "Volunteers are lake heroes." To learn more about the LWA, go to www.winnipesaukee.org.

The Squam Lakes Conservation Society's goal is to safeguard the Squam Lake region as "a unique region of islands, shorefront, back lands and mountains, wherein a harmony between the natural environment and mankind is preserved forever." Currently, the society owns or holds easements to over 120 properties. This comprises 7,500 acres and 19 miles of shorefront. Every year it stewards additional properties. In October of 2015 with help from over 130 donors and community support, the Society and its conservation partners purchased Whitten Woods, in Ashland, from Bill and Nancy Dailey. The New England Forestry Foundation will manage the timber resources on the property, SLCS will have a conservation easement to protect the land, and Squam Lakes Association will have an easement for a public trail system. Those interested in participating as volunteers can choose the type of property they would like to monitor. A team of 3 or 4 will meet at the property with equipment for marking and measuring, and walk the parcel to see if it is in compliance with the terms of the deed. Learn more at www.squamlakes.com.

Since 1992, the New Hampshire Lakes Association has been "dedicated to protecting New Hampshire's lakes and  watersheds." Its stewardship includes close cooperation with local lake, pond, and watershed associations and individuals who are concerned with guarding our precious and valuable environment. The association utilizes a number of educational and proactive programs to preserve our land and waters. Through its Lake Host Program, NH LAKES has conducted more than 665,000 courtesy boat inspections and made over 1,400 "saves" by removing invasive plant or animal specimens that would have otherwise entered the lakes. The goal of its Lake Conservation Corps is to implement lake-friendly landscaping techniques that reduce the amount of runoff polluting the lakes. The Lake Explorer Quest Program awards families and individuals who explore three waterbodies by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard with an official Lake Explorer Quest patch. The Watershed Warrior program is a fun way for kids and families to learn how to take action to keep the lakes and watersheds healthy. NH LAKES is spearheaded by president Tom O'Brien, who brings more than 20 years of watershed and park management service experience to the cause.

The mission of Windy Waters Conservancy is to secure the future of the waters, boreal and wetland habitats of the Lake Waukewan area. Its efforts extent to Lake Winona, Bear Pond, Hawkins Pond, Otter Pond and others. Recently, the conservancy put 192 acres within the Waukewan watershed into conservation with the help of the LRCT. This parcel is part of Center Harbor's largest undeveloped forest and contains the area's only level peat bog. For information, contact Chuck Braxton, president of the conservancy and a real estate agent at Roche Realty Group in Meredith, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Other groups involved in protecting our resources include the Town of Gilford Conservation Commission, Moultonborough Conservation Commission and Milfoil Committee, New Hampshire Audubon Society, Lake Waukewan Watershed Protective Association, Appalachian Mountain Club and Society for the Protection of NH Forests.

In short, the conservation efforts in the Lakes Region are a force to be reckoned with. Members and volunteers give back to the area in abundance because they recognize our survival as a community depends on the preservation of our resources. Keep up the good work.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com

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Michael Barone - Alarming drop in world trade

Battening down the hatches. That's what America and much of the rest of the world seem to be doing today, in an eerie re-enactment, though to much less of a degree, of what America and the world did in the 1930s. The result then wasn't very pretty. The result now is unknown.

One way the hatches are being battened down is that the volume of world trade has been declining, and not just temporarily, in response to the financial crisis of fall 2008.

Consider something that most people don't think much about: international trade. Listening to the political dialogue this year, one might suppose that increased trade only drains jobs from advanced countries like the United States. But in a broader perspective, greater trade produces greater productivity and growth. "International shipments broaden the pool of customers for a given product," writes The Wall Street Journal's William Mauldin, "and enhance competition and specialization, cutting prices for consumers."

Go to your local Wal-Mart or one of its competitors and you will see the effect. Prices for clothing and food have tended to decline over the last 40 years, something American consumers may take for granted, but which they may come to miss if trade flows stagnate.

And that may be happening. International trade dropped sharply after the financial crisis in 2008, rebounded in 2010, but has grown only about 3 percent a year since, compared to a 6 percent annual rate from 1983 to 2008. In that period world trade grew faster than the world economy as a whole. Now it is growing slower.

That's reminiscent of something far more drastic that happened in the early 1930s. As the famous spiral graph of economic historian Charles Kindleberger shows, world trade volumes declined by 67 percent between January 1929 and March 1933. That was almost double the 38 percent decline in world production.

This decline was exacerbated by trade restrictions, starting with the United States' Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which inspired higher tariffs and trade barriers in Europe and elsewhere. Nations trying to protect themselves from harm hurt the world as a whole — and themselves.

So it's a little chilling to see that the poll leaders for both parties' presidential nominations — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — are opposing the Trans-Pacific trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.

And that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has withdrawn it for the next year from consideration in the Senate, the house of Congress usually more amenable to free trade. Meanwhile, negotiations for a trans-Atlantic trade agreement have not reached fruition.
Another factor is at work: a sharp slowdown in China's growth rates, to what level, no one is sure. From 1982 to 2008 China's double-digit annual growth rate helped power world economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty there and providing increasingly inexpensive consumer goods and high-tech products in advanced countries.

For the Chinese, that growth rate restores China to its natural position as a great economic power, after an unpleasant 140-year interval of rebellion, revolution, civil war and Communist oppression. For the world, it has been a boost to growth whose magnitude is unlikely ever to be replicated.

The prospect of stagnant world trade and growing trade barriers may be cheered by those who think that will bring back the auto assembly plants of the 1960s. But battening down the hatches tends to make the air inside stale and to hinder the ship from moving forward.

A similar phenomenon may be happening: tightening of the borders. Some of this is necessary and beneficial. There is no reason to tolerate mass low-skill illegal immigration (which in fact has vastly diminished, down toward zero in the case of Mexico, since 2007).

And there are good reasons to be especially watchful about Muslims seeking visas or green cards, given the significant amount (though low percentage) of terrorists who are likely to be in their numbers. This is not nativism or bigotry but common sense.

But tightening the borders has already reduced the flow of visiting students and tourists — not a good thing. Neither is our politicians' inability to encourage more high-skill immigration.

These developments, again, are not nearly as dire as the situation in the 1930s, when immigration was close to zero and we blocked the entry of most Jewish and political refugees from Nazi-threatened Europe. That decade was brought to a close by world war. Let's hope that battening down the hatches today doesn't come to a similar end.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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DuBois – Trying to predict the unpredictable

For me, New Year's Eve festivities took a far different turn than other years. While most people were counting down the hours and minutes with parties, fireworks, games, and celebration (as I usually do), I was slogging up the side of Mt. Abraham in Maine in a foot of fresh snow, hoping but not knowing if I would make it to the summit. For many of us, our lives are somewhat predictable. We have clocks and watches to measure the day. We have our notebooks and computers to tell us our daily/weekly schedules. We like to have our days neatly boxed with no surprises. That's part of our human nature. We use our intellect to resist the dynamic and powerful forces that surround us. And we usually win. However, on this weekend we mostly lost, when attempting to summit a chain of mountains in Maine.

There are those times when our well-ordered designs get tossed around and thrown out the window. The natural world that we are all a part of has a way of doing that to us. We fight against it, but we sometimes lose and the best thing to do is to just give in to the natural forces that are superior to us. We get frustrated and sometimes upset because our carefully ordered life has been disturbed. This was the case for a judiciously planned four-day hiking trip in Maine over the New Year's holiday. With five others, Doug, Susan, Fran, Kevin and Guy, we made plans several months in advance to summit five mountains: Abraham, Sugarloaf, Spaulding, Saddleback and the Saddleback Horn. These plans fell far short of this goal.

The first day we planned to climb Abe, which included a long road walk due to the access road enveloped by two feet of snow. This climb also included hiking above tree line for half a mile. We knew this task would be difficult due to the cloud cover enshrouding the summit. Visibility would be poor and winds could be a factor. With that in mind we set off on our first day of climbing. We drove as far as we could on the access road, with Doug getting his car stuck in the snow. At that point we began our two-mile road walk to the trail head and started the climb to the summit of Abe. As we approached tree line, we entered a land of rock, clouds, wind and snow. We slowly made our way to the summit, celebrating our accomplishment and, after a few pictures, hustled down the mountain, success was ours.

The following day, Fran and I decided to tackle Sugarloaf and Spaulding, while the rest of the group went to Saddleback to break out the trail to the summit. Fran and I had a rather easy climb up the ski trails of Sugarloaf and made it to the summit in good time. But the trail to Spaulding was not broken out and we had two feet of fresh snow to plow through. We checked our watches and realized that the two-mile hike to Spaulding would take us much longer than anticipated to break trail. After an hour of breaking trail we realized we would be benighted soon, so we wisely turned back knowing the mountain will always be there for another winter attempt.

The third day of our excursion, climbing Saddleback and the Horn proved to be a more daunting task. We listened to the weather report and heard nothing that would deter our plans: no storms, pleasant temperatures and calm winds. Off we drove to the abandoned ski area of Saddleback Mountain. The snowshoe up the slope was uneventful, just a slow and tedious climb. Once we neared tree line we felt the wind rising and temperatures starting to plummet. We layered up, putting on extra clothing, mitts, face mask and goggles. When we left the shelter of tree line we were hit by 40 mph winds and white-out conditions. We could see only a few yards ahead of us. We stumbled along, trying to stay upright and hoping conditions would improve, but they only worsened. Our small party moved slowly along, trying to follow the cairns that mark the trail to the summit. We ducked into a knoll and when we emerged no cairns could be found. At that point we realized we could go no further without the risk of getting lost and succumbing to wind chill. Frost bite was a distinct possibility.

At this point we made a group decision to turn back. We found our way to the trail head and down to the base of the now empty ski lodge. The forces of nature had again proved stronger than our determination to reach the goal, as was the case yesterday. Our best laid plans had been shattered by a power stronger than ours. Disappointment and failure showed on our faces. Humility is virtue we often lack in our modern self-centered world. We later learned that we were only 200 feet from the summit before we turned back.

As we discussed later, we had made the right decision to turn back from our quest. The risk was just too great. The mountain will always be there and we began to make plans for our next attempt. The Gods of Nature had once again confirmed that they have the ultimate say in our designs of conquest. I was reminded that our neatly ordered world is often at the mercy of the forces outside of our control and in the wilderness this is especially true.

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Sanborn — A dream home for the new year?

The new year rolled in and a couple of hundred residential listings in the communities covered in this report rolled out. Expired, that is. We dropped from 948 listings as of December 1, 2105 down to 731 listings overnight. The median price point now stands at $255,000. You can expect to see many of these expired listings work their way back onto the market over the next few months with some of the waterfront properties likely waiting it out until spring. So, if you are thinking of selling your home, now really is a great time to list because of the fact that there are fewer listings, which means less competition. Buyers will also be watching for that special new home to hit the market after the holidays. It could be yours!

Well, it's officially 2016. You are all bright eyed, bushy tailed, upbeat, and planning to make changes in your life. Right after you get used to writing 2016 instead of 2015 on your checks. Maybe finding a new home is on top of the list of changes you'd like to make. But not just any home. You want to find your dream home. But just what is a dream home? It certainly must be something that you don't have now or you wouldn't be looking for it. But, dream homes are different for every person as we all have different tastes and ideas. However, just about every person would take any dream home if it was given to them or perhaps even if they could buy it at exactly the right price.

As a real estate agent, I see a lot of dream homes with my clients. Invariably, it seems that after looking at a number of homes, the one that the buyers would really like to buy is over their budget. Is the affordability factor, or more accurately, the inability to afford a particular home what makes that property a dream home? Not necessarily, but it is certainly part of it. That's what dreams are made of.

Most everyone, and certainly those house-oholics that watch HGTV, are familiar with their annual dream home give-away. You know, HGTV builds a fabulous dream home somewhere in a fantastic location, does a TV special on it, and then gives it away to some lucky person who has likely filled out some 400 entry forms. This year they rehabbed a wonderful waterfront home on Merritt Island, Florida. If you haven't seen the HGTV special, just Google "Dream Home" and the details will come up. HGTV has helped define what a dream home is... to some people. Check it out and you might as well enter the contest even if you don't like it or want to live in Florida. As I said, everyone has different tastes, but you'd take it if it were free.

If you need help determining what your dream home really is, Google "What is a Dream Home" and you'll find a couple of quizzes you can take to help. Surprisingly, I found that both the quizzes I took came up with the same home style despite asking completely different questions. I thought I was in trouble on the Better Homes and Gardens quiz when the question "If you were a Miss America contestant, what would your talent be?" came up, but I weathered through it OK.

While everyone likes to dream big, win the lottery, and have the big house on the water, your dream home in reality might be that home with the big back yard. It might be that home with the extra bedroom, with a three car garage, a fantastic master suite with a huge walk-in closet, a gourmet kitchen, or a man cave of epic proportions! It doesn't matter what price range you are looking in, there is likely a home out there that fulfills your current needs and desires. You just have to find it and that's what real estate agents do, help you find your Dream Home. We are here to help, so contact your agent and you'll be on your way.

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 1/1/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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Sanborn — 2016 real estate predictions

There are lots of predictions for the 2016 housing market on the Internet. But, you have to remember these predictions are on a national level and not specific to the Lakes Region. Everyone is predicting higher interest rates on mortgages. They say it could be as high as 4.5 percent by the end of the year. What a catastrophe! Does anyone remember the days of 17 percent?

They have also predicted an increase in housing demand as those millennials who have put off starting families and buying houses until well into their 30s enter the marketplace. Core logic predicts that there could be more than 1.25 million new households formed in 2016. I'd guess about six of those might be in the Lakes Region. Millennials tend to need jobs and we don't have a lot of good ones, unfortunately. We will continue to look toward Baby Boomers retiring in the area, people downsizing and the vacation home buyers for much of our home sales.

Rental rates are expected to rise in 2016 nationwide and I suppose that could be true as well in the Lakes Region. They are also saying that home prices will also rise, but I don't see that necessarily happening here until our inventory level drops considerably. Homes are not necessarily flying off the shelves in our area. While there are occasional multiple offers on the more desirable homes that help drive up the price, that certainly isn't happening routinely like in other areas of the country.

I saw several sources that said it would be easier to get a loan in 2016 and that lenders would be relaxing guidelines and looking at alternative means of determining creditworthiness. Fannie Mae is reported to have relaxed some of its requirements and its new Home Ready Mortgage is "designed for creditworthy, low- to moderate-income borrowers, with expanded eligibility for financing homes in designated low-income, minority, and disaster-impacted communities." What they don't say is that with every mortgage application today you must undergo a financial colonoscopy without the benefit of anesthesia.

Here are some 2016 predictions for the Lakes Region area that you can take to the bank.

First, there will still be traffic jams in downtown Meredith on the weekends at the intersection of Route 25 and Route 3. You may not know this, though: there are clandestine powers behind the scene from Moultonborough and communities from south of Meredith working to make sure that traffic is always snarled there. These traffic jams are the only thing preventing a max exodus of residents from Belmont and Laconia to Moultonborough to take advantage of the $9.01 property tax rate. Experts predict that such a huge shift in population would leave Laconia like a ghost town. In Belmont, Jordan's Ice Cream would be forced to close for lack of business. Economic havoc would be inevitable. That's why there will always be traffic jams in Meredith.

I can predict with 100 percent accuracy that the political unrest in the Middle East and in Gilmanton will continue. That is unless of course, the traffic problem in Meredith is solved. Gilmanton residents may just join the migration to Moultonborough as well. After all, their tax rate went up three bucks last year.

I can predict that Charlie and Jennifer will continue to work tirelessly and diligently to save Laconia Bike Week from further decline. They continue to pour their heart and soul into this much-needed event. A proposal to bring in illegal Mexican bikers to bolster attendance was scrapped after Mayor Engler binge watched Son's of Anarchy and was reminded of how bad the Mayans Motorcycle Club really is. Of course, this proposal also could also be very costly as someone would have to give them motorcycles to ride on. Not in the city's budget... oh, wait, Washington has a lot of money.

And along that same line, the Pumpkin Fest will be an even bigger success this year but we probably won't beat the record of 30,581. That is one big pile of pumpkins. If only all those folks north of the lights in Meredith could get to Laconia they could set a new record. It is a delicate balance, you see...
I can also predict and that there will be an early ice-out in 2015 ... if there is ever an ice-in, that is.

And finally, as far as real estate sales locally, I think we will have a pretty good year in 2016, probably a little better than 2015 and that's not bad. Real estate values will not necessarily rise although the average sales price may increase due to higher priced homes selling. Inventory levels will remain high because we do not have a large enough buyer pool to whittle it down. That seems to be the way things have been going for the past few years and until something substantial changes, I expect this is the new norm. Have a Happy New Year!

 

Pl​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 677-7012.

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