Lake Tarleton: A Conservation Story

Lake Tarleton is one of the largest lakes in the White Mountains. It covers over 300 acres and for the most part is undeveloped. It is located off route 25-C in the towns of Piermont and Warren. Over the years a succession of entrepreneurs have tried their hand at developing this beautiful piece of property. To this point, all of them have failed, including the present owner. Maybe mother nature is sending us a message. It would be a shame to let this gem exist in anything other than its present state.

Recently the Trust for Public Lands ( a national conservation group) negotiated a deal that would allow The Lake Tarelton Project to purchase and preserve the lake and surrounding properties. The entire project encompasses 5000 acres. The bulk of the property, some 3400 acres is being sought by the White Mtn. National Forest. The voters in the towns of Piermont and Warren have already voted in favor of this acquisition and hopefully the US Forest Service can come up with the funding to complete the deal. This portion of the project surrounds all of Lake Tarleton and Lake Katherine along with approximately 1/3 of the northwestern shoreline of Lake Armington. There are a couple of lots on the western shoreline of Tarleton that will remain private. The preservation of the rest of the western shore hinges on the ability of the Upper Valley Land Trust and its partners in the project to raise $525,000 for its purchase. The State of New Hampshire is also looking into the possibility of acquiring some of this frontage and might possibly develop a state park which eventually could even include a public beach and visitors center . The Forest Legacy program is looking at the second largest section of the project. Approximately 1600 acres to the south and west of the lake.

Generally when I here about a conservation project I get a little nervous. Most of the time, I do not see eye to eye with this crowd. I have spoken with many of the people involved with this one including foresters, The Upper Valley Land Trust, Politicians, and private citizens. I came away with a good feeling and am quite comfortable that the right thing is being done.

A couple of weeks ago I took an afternoon and paddled around the Lake. It had been a few years since I had been on it. For a little over an hour I followed the entire shore line around the lake. It truly is a beautiful spot. There was only one other boat on the water and I hardly even noticed them. The fish were rising constantly as I worked my way north along the western shore. I really should have brought along a pole. Past the summer camp I came across a series of lot markers, no doubt possible future sites for a camp or home for someone. What a shame it would be. This cruise would not have the same feel if I were peering into someone's living room instead of the green forest that stands in front of me now. Nearing the north western end you pass a large cement platform and dock, remnants of an earlier project gone awry and then come upon a beautiful, natural sand beach. A bit cold for a swim today though. A swing along the beach and then around the point to the outlet dam at the extreme northwestern end of the lake. I drifted broadside up to the small spillway to check out the outlet stream as it meandered though the thick alders and disappeared around a bend. As I turned and headed southeast along the opposite shore I passed a couple of tiny islands and then a summer home nestled back in among a pine grove. Continuing on I found an inlet brook and worked my way up as far as possible before turning around. Along the way I disturbed a Great blue Heron who lumbered off in disgust at my presence. I managed to (unintentionally) dislodge him several more times before I reached journey's end. As I continued along in my southeasterly direction I passed through a swampy section strewn with large boulders. All the while the water is perfectly calm. So much so that when staring into it just ahead of you, one could easily get disoriented by the reflection and not know which way was up. Not a good state of mind to be in when paddling a canoe.

As you approach the far southeast end of the lake you pass several more inlet brooks, and then happen upon another natural sand beach. I remember the last time I was here with friends and kids. We spent the afternoon catching crawfish and tadpoles. Swinging northwest again it is only a short distance to the boat launch, another sandy beach. Along the way I managed to salvage a nice fishing lure from a tree. Folks, we have until September 1997 to raise the funds necessary to close the deal negotiated by the Trust For Public Lands. I would like to suggest you take some time and get on the water. Then if the spirit moves you, contact the Upper Valley Land Trust if you would like more info or feel you would like to help out. My guess is that you will. They can be reached at (603) 643-6626. Until next time, Happy Paddling!!!

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