August 31, 2022 Breakfast Meeting Notes
August 31, 2022 Breakfast Meeting Notes
President Braden Smith called the meeting to order. Three guests were present:
  1. Russ Nagle (who has now applied for membership)
  2. Jim Nolan of Davis and Toll
  3. Jeff Hall of Braver Angels
Tony presented his famous NH trivia.
The 50/50 was won by Steve who donated it to Tom’s tip.
The chance to draw for the card game was won by Renee who failed to draw the ace of spades and so the game will continue next week.
Jim Nolan works with Braden and Bill and has served as Alex’s insurance agent for many years. He presented Alex with a check for $10,000 for the NH Fund for Ukraine. Many thanks to Jim and Davis and Toll for making this generous donation. At this point Alex has contributed about $600.000 and we have raised a similar amount from the public.
Braden thanked all of those who came to sand and stain the pergola at Rotary Park and clean up the weeks around the flagpole and the amphitheatrer. Here are some pictures from the cleanup:
Our speaker today was Roger Larochelle, who has been the executive director of the Squam Lake Conservation Society for the last 19 years. He asked us to consider what the role of land conservation is, and it includes many things: protecting vulnerable flora and fauna, providing for public recreational use, carbon sequestration, and providing erosion control. These are all “quiet roles” that are all part of protecting a healthy lifestyle and defining the characteristics of our community. The goal is to allow development without allowing it to destroy the fundamental nature of the watershed.
The conservation society was founded in 1960; its first property, the Holderness Town Beach, was donated by Frank Weber. Currently the Conservation Society has protected approximately 30% of the watershed of Squam Lakes and is hoping to increase that to 40%. The 166 parcels of land that make up the Society are all privately owned, not state or federal property, and they are still taxable properties so that the towns do not lose revenue. Some of their recent acquisitions include 6500 acres around the Beebe River and (just last week) Merrill Island, the last unprotected island in the watershed.
Protection of land is accomplished by bargain sales or through conservation easements. Conservation easements are a tool that allow owners to retain ownership of their land and perform sustainable activities on it, such as harvesting timber or providing for flood control; they can even sell the property. But the conservation easement is attached to the property in perpetuity, so that all future owners will have to abide by the terms of the easement. Properties are walked annually by volunteers to ensure that owners are compliant with the terms of the easement. At the present time in the USA, land trusts and conservation organizations have protected twice as much land as is contained in our national parks.
To further these goals, the Conservation Society has started a $4,000,000 capital campaign called “Forever Squam” to encourage landholders to conserve their lands. The fund pays for appraisals and surveys of streams, wetlands, and large forest tracts within the watershed. This incentivizes property owners to put easements on their land by picking up most of the cost of doing so.
Our second speaker was Jeff Hale of Braver Angels. Our country has become much more polarized in recent years, with “blue” and “red” citizens often thinking that those across the aisle are misinformed, ignorant, crazy, or even outright evil. This has made it more difficult to talk to each other and find common ground. Braver Angels aims to rectify the situation by providing a forum for partisans of both sides to get together and talk to each other in a polite, respectful way, to try to understand the opposing point of view and see if there is a mutually-agreeable solution. The idea is NOT to change minds, but to ease mistrust and see if we can get to talking and working together again.
There is a branch of this organization in every state at this point and meetings are typically held by Zoom. A meeting this past June on election security resulted in agreement on 85% of the concerns and potential solutions   Upcoming programs include an evening meeting on September 20 to discuss the Dobbs ruling that invalidated Roe v. Wade, and an October program called “Walk a Mile in My News” in which participants will spend at least 5 hours over 3 weeks sharing news sources and information with one another. Braver Politics is a branch of Braver Angels that works with politicians to persuade them to work across the aisle.
Membership in Braver Angels is $12-$20 a year and their web site is
Here is a link to a brief video about Braver Angels:
Respectfully submitted,
Lora Miller, secretary