Although founded in 1996, the Lake Wentworth Foundation’s roots have links back to conservation efforts of the 1970s. For example, in 1975, Stamp Act Island, the largest on the lake, was about to go on the market. It was conceivable that up to 70 lots could have been developed on the island. Forward-looking members of the Lake Wentworth Association wanted to protect this important resource in the center of Lake Wentworth. The Association began a fundraising effort, the money was raised, and Stamp Act Island was preserved for future generations.
The island is now owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by a committee made up of members from both the Conservancy and the Wentworth Watershed Association. This initiative served to alert friends and residents in the watershed to the importance of continued vigilance regarding development of parcels affecting the well-being of the lakes.
More recently the lake community was threatened with a proposal to build a 400+ unit RV park on the site of the former Allen ‘A’ Resort. Also, development was planned for the land abutting Fernald Brook, a major tributary to Lake Wentworth. In both instances, Linda Baldwin, a lifelong summer resident of Wentworth Park and an Association member, came forward and used personal financial resources to protect these parcels from harmful development.
In 1996, the Lake Wentworth Foundation was founded as a partner organization of the Lake Wentworth Association to provide a means for individuals to support the protection and preservation of valuable resources in the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed and receive a tax benefit for their donations.
Sadly, Linda Baldwin died suddenly in 2002, leaving many of her Wolfeboro real estate holdings to the Lake Wentworth Foundation. With these gifts to the lake community, the Foundation became a conservation land trust.
Linda loved boating, and the future of the boat museum was important to her. She was instrumental in bringing the boat museum to its present home in Wolfeboro. Until her untimely death, she served on the museum’s board of directors as well as on the Foundation board. In the fall of 2005, the Foundation conveyed a part of the former Allen ‘A’ Resort property to the New Hampshire Boat Museum. In completing this transaction, the Foundation was instrumental in securing a home for the boat museum in Wolfeboro. The Foundation continues to own the property abutting the Cotton Valley Trail and Hersey Brook. It also retains a conservation easement over the environmentally sensitive portions of the museum’s land.
The Foundation commissioned environmental assessments on the properties that Linda Baldwin conveyed to the Foundation. These assessments provide important guidance so that the Foundation could manage these properties more effectively. The Foundation trustees determined that two of the parcels should be maintained in their natural state. One parcel consists of 67 acres that protect large sections of Harvey Brook on its route to Lake Wentworth. The second parcel consists of lots at the intersection of Routes 28 and 109. This land abuts the Fernald conservation easement and is an important protection for Fernald Brook and its wetlands.
In August 2006, the Foundation erected a stone monument and plaque at the Fernald Brook bridge on the Cotton Valley Trail in memory of Linda Baldwin’s generosity and commitment to the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed.
The Foundation continued to work with the Lake Wentworth Association on the ever-present issues of water quality monitoring and milfoil control. The Foundation supports the Association’s participation in UNH’s Lakes Lay Monitoring Program and funded its milfoil eradication efforts.
In 2016, the members and boards of the Lake Wentworth Association and the Lake Wentworth Foundation agreed that it was time to combine the two entities and become the Wentworth Watershed Association.