LACONIA, N.H. (AP) — An economic impact study has found that Lake Winnipesaukee is worth more than $17 billion to the state of New Hampshire’s economy, information that an environmental advocacy group hopes to use to underscore the need to protect the lake.

The study was requested by the Lake Winnipesaukee Association and was written by the Policy Research Shop at Dartmouth College, The Laconia Daily Sun reported Friday.

The association commissioned the report in February, and the work was completed in June.

“I think that’s an eye opener,” Patricia Tarpey, executive director of the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, said of the valuation.

The largest contributor to Winnipesaukee’s worth was property values, which was about $16 billion. Tourism revenue was worth about $249 million and boating and fishing was worth more than $109 million.

Tarpey hopes municipalities around the 72-square-mile (186-square-kilometer) lake can use the information in the report when making policy decisions to protect the water from pollution that can damage the ecosystem.

“Any regulation that happens, either comes at the federal, state or local level. We have no real authority as an association,” Tarpey said. “The best we can do is help educate policy decision makers to implement better measures to protect this lake. and we have been working an awful lot with the local municipalities, they get it, they know it’s the golden goose.”

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