Recap of February 14 Meeting with State Park Officials About Pawtuckaway State Park Expansion

On February 14, 2024, State Park officials held an informational meeting with the Nottingham Planning Board to present updated plans for improvements at Pawtuckaway State Park. It was well attended by members of the public. Representatives from the PLIA Board of Directors, as well as PLIA members and Nottingham residents, came to hear the State’s plans to rebuild, renovate, and construct facilities at the Park using federal ARPA funds.

Johanna Lyons, State Park Planning and Development Specialist, handed out a description of the plan and gave a short talk about new bathhouses, septic systems, and an RV dump station. The original “Preferred Concept” included 35 new RV campsites along the shore and inland above the North Channel. On her handout, Ms. Lyons indicated that “Public comment was not in favor of the proposal.” Therefore, that plan was abandoned, and the State instead went in a new direction to replace five existing bathhouses in the Big Island and Horse Island areas, including new septic systems. The remaining bathhouse on Horse Island was replaced two years ago. That leaves only the toilet facility in the Neals Cove area as not being rebuilt. Read the handout here.

The meeting was then opened for public comment. Several PLIA members spoke in favor of the revised project. Some attendees asked questions about permitting and staging of the construction as well as details on the operation of the dump station.

Ms. Lyons indicated that bids will be solicited in the spring and contracts announced by September. Construction will be phased-in, beginning on Horse Island in October, so campsites there and on Big Island will be closed after September 3, 2024. Neal’s Cove camping will remain open through October. Campsites may be closed on Big Island in 2025 to accommodate construction there.

Here is a link to the State Park’s website with detailed 80% plans.

When the video of the meeting is posted online, you can find it here.

We are grateful that the State took into consideration public concerns about their original plans for 35 new RV campsites and about the inadequate condition of existing toilet and septic facilities.


In a tradition started many years ago by Co-President Donna Danis, the PLIA invited all its volunteers to a cookout to thank them for their time and dedication.

On a wet Sunday afternoon – undeterred by the weather and perhaps used to it by now this summer – over 40 volunteers gathered at the State Park Pavilion to celebrate their accomplishments of the past year.

Thanks to an intense letter writing campaign promoted by the PLIA and accompanied by close monitoring of and communication with state and local officials, the planned expansion of Pawtuckaway State Park campgrounds to include 35 RV campsites with hookups along the water was abandoned.

Further, NH DES stepped up to help our Milfoil Team fight the overwhelming infestation of this invasive weed in Pawtuckaway. It launched a campaign that included surveys, education, DASH boat and crew extractions, and a targeted herbicide application. As a result, sightings of milfoil have dropped dramatically and our Milfoil Team has been able to catch its collective breath.

President Steve Soreff welcomed the crowd and listed the many activities that our volunteers have participated in throughout the year. A slide show of photos illustrated those accomplishments.


Vice-President Pete Wawrzonek thanked Secretary and Communications Director Pam Kelly for her work on most of the PLIA committees that implement the organization’s mission and for keeping the Board in line.



Jean-Ann St. Pierre guessed the correct number of ‘fish in the barrel’ and all attendees were invited to take home a floating “sound signaling device” to comply with NH Marine Patrol regulations on their power boats. A small thank you for big efforts by our outstanding volunteers! Please let them know you appreciate their work whenever you see them on the lake.





Introducing Zeffy – a New Way to Join or Renew Your Membership in the PLIA Online!

The Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association is pleased to announce that we will be using a new donation platform called Zeffy, effective immediately. It ensures that our organization will receive 100% of your donation without any charge or fees. One time, monthly, or annual contributions are simple to make.

For most of us, it is hard to remember whether we have renewed our membership in the PLIA, even though of course we intend to! Through Zeffy you can divide your annual donation into 12 smaller amounts and have the payments made automatically. If you prefer, an annual contribution can be made automatically on whatever date you choose and you never have to think about it again!

With Zeffy, there is no app to download, no group to join, no password to remember. Our Membership Coupon and website have a link you can use or – even better – a QR code to access the Zeffy PLIA donation page.

Here is the new link:  or use the QR code below.

Of course, you can always download and send in the coupon found on our website with a check. Here is that link:

Thank you for your past and future support!

Update on Pawtuckaway State Park Expansion

Earlier this summer, the PLIA initiated a letter writing campaign to let our State officials know that we had grave concerns about plans to expand the campgrounds at Pawtuckaway State Park to add 35 waterfront RV sites with water and electric hookups.

Issues were also raised about the inadequate condition of existing toilet and septic facilities at the Park.

In addition, problems of erosion at waterfront campsites have increased since the Park stopped enforcing its rule requiring campers to swim only at the Park beach.

We are pleased to announce that the NH Division of State Parks has listened to stakeholders and responded accordingly. There will be NO NEW campsites constructed at Pawtuckaway State Park.

Instead, the Division will use ARPA funds to reconstruct existing toilet buildings and create a dumping station.

Finally, they are going to review their administrative rules to examine the rules around swimming. They will also be taking an inventory of all the waterfront sites to prioritize work on the most eroded ones. There are steps that can be taken to decrease the amount of erosion occurring.

Thank you to all who answered the call and sent in emails and letters as part of our letter writing campaign! You did it!

And thank you to the Division of State Parks for being responsive to citizen concerns.


Local Scout Troop to Train Divers for Milfoil Searches

Jamie Burleigh, Weed Control Diver for the PLIA Milfoil Team, is pleased to announce that the Scouts of BSA Troop 167 are on a mission to help with Pawtuckaway Lake’s milfoil problem. With the help of Scout Master Dan DeButts and Jamie, a dive club has been formed within the troop.

To encourage more people to become stewards of the lake for milfoil control, Jamie has worked with Dan DeButts to develop a program that would enable Scouts to be trained in SCUBA diving. This will be considered community service for their requirements for advancement and a Merit badge, because the Scouts who are getting SCUBA qualified will be part of the troop’s dive club.

The plan is for Jamie to train these Scouts to search for milfoil on Pawtuckaway Lake, as organized by Dan DeButts and coordinated with the PLIA. Those Scouts who do not wish to be certified can be trained as surface support for search divers in the troop, so any Scout who wants to be involved will be able to join the club. Adults who want to dive with the Scouts will have to take Youth Protection Training and be active with the troop in some official capacity.

Jamie reports that the Scouts have now all completed the class and pool requirements. Unfortunately the weather in July has not allowed for their two open water dives to complete the training. Their plan is to get it completed the first week of August if the weather cooperates.

The aim is to instill in these Scouts a desire to help after Scouting and, Jamie hopes, be future stewards of the lake. The more mature Scouts, after at least a season of searching, can become Weed Control Divers. He will train them how to identify milfoil and how to work near it so they don’t accidentally spread it.

The PLIA applauds Jamie’s initiative and wants to assist any interested Scout in taking the SCUBA certification course, which is costly. For that reason, the PLIA Board has voted to donate $2,000, to be managed by the Scout troop and specifically assigned to pay for certification. With any luck these Scouts will become the next generation of lake stewards.

Thank you, Jamie and Dan!


Stalwart celebrants of the July Fourth Annual Boat Parade around Pawtuckaway Lake were not deterred by the threat of rain. They decorated their boats and watercraft – and themselves – to share their festive spirit with everyone who came out.

Those who were so inclined also brought out the super soakers and blasted each other from boat to boat or defended themselves from eager participants on docks waiting in ambush!

The weather held and everyone’s creativity was on full display. Check out the photos posted in the PLIA Photo Gallery here and see for yourselves!


On Saturday morning, June 3, 2023, despite the cold and rain, 200 people assembled at the State Park Pavilion to hear our guest speaker make her presentation. For many years, Amy Smagula, Chief Limnologist at NH DES, has developed long-term milfoil management plans for Pawtuckaway Lake. Consistently she has recommended that the PLIA continue its program of hand-pulling milfoil plants, coupled with a robust Lake Host program for prevention of new incoming infestations.

For the first time this year, Amy is recommending that carefully tailored herbicide treatment could be part of our milfoil plan, because of the alarming spread and density of new milfoil growths. Her most recent Long Term Milfoil Management Plan can be found here. At the meeting she detailed her history with Pawtuckaway Lake and various milfoil management tools that should be coordinated as part of a comprehensive plan. She further explained the benefits of limited applications of a new herbicide called ProcellaCOR to help our Milfoil Team keep up with ever expanding areas of milfoil infestations. In addition, she entertained questions from the audience and answered them all with examples from her own research, expertise, and experience. For those who missed Amy’s talk, it was recorded and can be viewed here

Amy helped many of the attendees better understand her plan for the lake and how NH DES will be assisting our Milfoil Team with other endeavors, such as a Diver Assisted Suction Harvester (DASH) boat.

President Steve Soreff led a business meeting in which he announced that four Board members were retiring and four new members had volunteered to join the Board. Leaving were Dee Decker, Mike Coltin, Mike Hyer, and Les Thompson. The four members elected unanimously were: Troy Brown, Dawn Fernald, Shelly Heit, and Neil Santos. Steve then introduced Program Chairs who gave their reports, starting with Bruce Henden, new Lake Host Manager. Milfoil Team Captain Neil Santos vividly described how difficult it is in Pawtuckaway’s conditions of low visibility to locate milfoil plants to begin with. He further emphasized how carefully removing entire milfoil root systems stirs up the lake’s silty bottom to create almost no visibility at all. Plant fragments and stalks can easily be lost in the murk. He also invited people to watch the video, taken by Team member Jim Kelly and displayed on a laptop, to understand how dense and impenetrable the huge infestation near the Town beach is. He concluded by saying that his team is overwhelmed and unable, with its current resources, to meet the demands of our ever-growing milfoil menace.

Communications Chair Pam Kelly announced a letter writing campaign sponsored by the PLIA to encourage stakeholders to send their comments about the Pawtuckaway State Park expansion plan to state and local officials. She explained that the PLIA does not oppose the expansion in its entirety, but only wants the design of the new RV campsites, as proposed, to be modified. There are many reasons, she added, why those campsites should be away from the waterfront where they pose environmental and aesthetic threats. She has publicized this campaign to all PLIA members and friends so they can participate if they wish. You can read the article here.

Government Liaison Tom Duffy introduced Tara Blaney, formerly a manager of Pawtuckaway State Park who now works as a Supervisor for the NH Parks and Recreation Division. She spoke about the initiatives the park system is taking to assist our Lake Host and Milfoil Programs with their work, educating park visitors and assisting them to learn about keeping watercraft clean, drained, and dry. She explained when the next public information session about the park expansion can take place. She also noted that the State Park system now has responses to some of the concerns raised at the April 11 meeting with State Park officials.

Following all this sobering talk, attendees were invited to visit member Sonoma Potavin’s display about her Chinese Mystery Snail project and take home with them a complimentary snail collection bucket that Sonoma had created to help people find, remove, and safely dispose of these pests in the lake. Sonoma’s initiative was praised by Amy, who intends to publicize her wonderful effort.


The Paddle Poker table did a brisk business in raffle tickets, PLIA T-shirts were sold, refreshments were enjoyed, and many took a stab at playing the “Name that Scat” game invented by Susan Medeiros. What fun!

Finally, the organization honored Mark “Wags” Wageling with its Local Hero award, for his tireless attention and hard work as Water Testing Chair. Wags manages a team of dedicated members and provides them with collection bottles to take water samples, which he delivers to the State labs in Concord every month for testing. As “Commodore” of the good ship Water Testing, he and his crew are out on the lake in all kinds of weather taking samples and measuring various qualities of our lake water. He is truly an unsung hero who deserves all our thanks!



Letter Writing Campaign About Pawtuckaway State Park Expansion

NH Parks and Recreation has plans to add 35 RV campsites at Pawtuckaway State Park. The current design to the right shows them all grouped on or near the waterfront along the North Channel.

The State Park system is self-funding, so revenue generated from fees does not go into the general fund but is rather used to pay for personnel and maintenance needs of all the state parks. The plan to expand Pawtuckaway campsites is intended to increase revenue and the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association (PLIA) appreciates that need. However, the plan calling for construction of new campsites with water and electric hookups so near a very crowded and vulnerable stretch of the lake is flawed. It threatens the health of the lake as well as its wildlife because of loss of habitat and likely shoreline erosion, not to mention the loss of recreational opportunities and spread of milfoil.

These photos show the stretch along the North Channel that would be affected. For these reasons, the PLIA opposes the existing design of the expansion, as proposed. The State has told us that the design is “conceptual” and can be modified.  Based on that understanding, we want those campsites to be relocated away from the water, where they will not threaten the delicate balance of our lake. If you would like to weigh in on this project, we urge you to send a letter or email to our state officials voicing your opinion. We have drafted a letter summarizing these problems and encourage you to use it, modify its message, or draft one of your own to alert government officials about your concerns. We also have drawn up a list of officials and their contact information. For more information or feedback, please contact the PLIA at


Saturday, June 3, 2023

9:00 AM – noon

Pavilion, Pawtuckaway State Park

Our featured speaker will be Amy Smagula, Chief Limnologist at NH DES. Amy has been providing expert assistance for our Milfoil Team, helping us train Weed Watchers and Lake Hosts, providing expert assistance for our Milfoil Team, doing surveys of Pawtuckaway’s plants and lake health, and monitoring our milfoil infestations.

She will kick off the meeting by addressing the gathering at 9:30 AM about her comprehensive long-term milfoil study and management plan, which may include a recommendation for limited herbicide treatments. Everyone is encouraged to read that plan in advance, here.

Please come to learn more about the history of milfoil and its management on Pawtuckaway Lake-it is now getting out of hand – and bring your questions!

Come also because we have lots of news to share about our organization and the lake, much to celebrate, and future activities to discuss. Your presence makes our meeting more productive and more fun!

Here’s the agenda:

  • 9:00 – 9:30 Registration, Membership, Refreshments
  • 9:30 – 10:30 Speaker and Questions
  • 10:30 – 10:45 Socialize, Program Displays, T-Shirt Sales
  • 10:45 – 11:30 Business Meeting, Program Reports
  • 11:30 – 11:40 Local Hero Award
  • 11:40 – 12:00 Wrap Up; Contest Winner(s)

Please join us for a morning packed with information and discussion. Not to mention fun!

PawPrints Newsletter

The PLIA has mailed out its annual PawPrints newsletter and it is now available online as well, here. Take a look at what your organization has been up to and read about our upcoming Annual Meeting. You will not want to miss it!

Our featured speaker is Amy Smagula, chief limnologist for NH DES, who will talk about her recommendations for long term milfoil management on Pawtuckaway Lake. You are encouraged to read her report here. One recommendation may be to use an herbicide, ProcellaCOR, to suppress milfoil in the higher density areas. She is opening the meeting, so be sure to arrive before she begins her remarks at 9:30 AM. She will be open to all your questions.