AUBURN — The land encompassing the Lake Auburn watershed could be open to more kinds of recreation, based on work from two public meetings set for the next month.

Lynn Richard, education and outreach manager for the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, said the group is working to get people who live around Lake Auburn more involved.

“This is the direction that many water districts are going. They are sort of opening up the conserved and protected lands to help with stewardship,” Richard said. “The reality is that a staff cannot be everywhere at all times and things can happen. But if you have invited people who love the land to enjoy it, you are going to have help with that protection.”

The commission controls 9,651 acres in Auburn, Turner, Minot, Hebron and Buckfield, all of it feeding directly into Lake Auburn, the water supply for the Twin Cities.

The commission has worked to limit use of those lands in the past, but that may be changing — if the uses are right.

“Protecting the water quality is a nonnegotiable subject,” Richard said. “But that does not mean letting people take a walk down Whitman Spring Road is a bad thing.”

The commission has scheduled two meetings to hear from residents. The first is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, in Room 108 of the University of Southern Maine’s L-A College campus in Lewiston.

The second is at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 2, in Room J-410 at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

The commission is also taking online surveys asking residents how they would like to use the land. It’s available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LAWPClands.

The work began last summer with a GPS project designed to map popular walking trails, both official and unofficial.

“It’s just a shift in our philosophy,” she said. “You can have all the no-trespassing signs in the world on your property, but people will still use the land. If they did the right thing and asked for permission, you had to say no because that’s the rule. And that’s not encouraging a positive relationship or good uses for the land.”

The results of that mapping project, the survey and the two meetings will be used to write a use plan for the watershed. Richard said she expects it will be released this fall.

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