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Andrew Brook Trailhead Update

A popular destination in winter as well as warmer seasons, Lake Solitude is the reward of a two-mile ascent up the Andrew Brook Trail. Access to the trail is now protected by the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests. Photo by John Welch/johnwelchphoto.com.

A popular destination in winter as well as warmer seasons, Lake Solitude is the reward of a two-mile ascent up the Andrew Brook Trail. Access to the trail is now protected by the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests. Photo by John Welch/johnwelchphoto.com.

Members of the hiking community around Mount Sunapee put their enthusiasm for a popular trail to Lake Solitude to work and quickly helped the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) raise funds to conserve the property where the trail begins.

The Forest Society purchased the 33-acre trailhead property, off Mountain Road in Newbury, in order to protect access to the Andrew Brook Trail, said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.

“So many people who love this trail assumed that the trailhead was part of  Mount Sunapee State Park, but in fact it was privately owned and therefore vulnerable when it came up for sale,” Difley said. “Now that the Forest Society owns it, public access is protected, and we want to thank the fans of this trail for helping to secure it.”

The Andrew Brook Trail is a 2-mile ascent up Andrew Brook on the eastern side of Mt. Sunapee to Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then meets up with other trails leading to the scenic White Ledges area and to Mount  Sunapee’s peak. Read more…

 

Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Supermap is now available

View from Mount Sunapee looking south toward Mount Monadnock, in the far distance to the right, and showing the Sunapee Ridge and Lovewell Mountain (center-left).

View from Mount Sunapee looking south toward Mount Monadnock, in the far distance to the right, and showing the Sunapee Ridge and Lovewell Mountain (left of center).

A new Greenway Super Map is now available from the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club. Price: $10.00. The full color map (18 x 24 in size) includes all trail highlights of the Greenway, from Mount Monadnock to Pitcher Mountain on side one, and Pitcher Mountain to Mount Sunapee on the other side. All feeder trails on Mount Monadnock, Mount Sunapee and in Pillsbury State Park are included, as are section mileages, shelter locations, trail history, water source locations, GPS coordinates for all points of interest, and more.

For ordering information, visit the trail club website store at www.msgtc.org/store

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club (MSGTC) is a non-profit organization that formed in 1994. It’s mission includes trail maintenance efforts along the 48-mile hiking trail and to provide support for their volunteers and trail adopters, and to promote awareness of  the natural beauty of  The Greenway. 

Forest Society working to buy popular trailhead for Mt. Sunapee hike to Lake Solitude

winter hiker smaller CDeegan IMG_1868

A hiker ascends the Andrew Brook Trail in Newbury. Courtesy photo.

When the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) posted on Facebook a plan to buy a property in Newbury that hosts the trailhead of a hiking route to Lake Solitude on Mt. Sunapee, hikers who know the Andrew Brook Trail responded quickly.

They posted phrases like “Love this hike,” “One of my favorite spots” and “Best way to hike Sunapee.”

“Those posts told us we were working on a project that would make a lot of people very happy,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.

There are three major hiking trails on Mt. Sunapee, but only one, the Summit Trail, is entirely within Mt. Sunapee State Park. The Andrew Brook Trail is one of two others that cross private land before entering permanently protected land in the state park. Access to the trailhead has been at the generosity of the landowner and could be denied by any future landowner.

AndrewBrook_MailingMapv5-1

Click on map to enlarge.

The Forest Society offered to buy the land, 33 acres off of Mountain Road in Newbury, when it came up for sale recently, and has a purchase-and-sales agreement with the landowner. First, however, the organization must raise $110,000 to cover the purchase, legal fees and future stewardship costs.

“We are reaching out to the hiking community and friends and neighbors in the Newbury area to ask for their support of our plan to protect the trailhead,” Difley said.

The Andrew Brook Trail ascends along Andrew Brook and climbs through a beech, birch and maple forest for two miles before reaching Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then connects to the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway’s 75-mile trail system and continues to the scenic cliffs of the  White Ledges area and Mt. Sunapee’s summit.

“Most hikers of these heavily used trails have no idea that only the generosity of a private landowner allows access to the State Park,” said Gerry Gold, of the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway Coalition. “Thus it is a rare opportunity when the hikers and the hiking community have an opportunity to help purchase such important access and permanently protect that access for themselves and future generations of hikers.”

In 2006, the Forest Society led a campaign to purchase a conservation easement on 1,100 acres of land on the eastern slope of Mt. Sunapee. This easement protects the middle section of the Andrew Brook Trail and was a collaboration celebrated by partners including the Newbury Conservation Commission, Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew, the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, Friends of Mount Sunapee and the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway.

In 2010 the Goubert family of Sunapee donated 75 acres of land next to the 33-acre property the Forest Society now seeks to buy.

Difley said the property’s value for hiking is the most obvious reason to protect it, but it also contains hardwood forest that protects water quality of Andrew Brook and several feeder streams, and it provides excellent wildlife habitat. She said the organization is seeking to raise the money necessary to complete the project by Jan. 20.

More information about the project and how to donate, visit www.forestsociety.org.

Soar over Mount Sunapee via “To Be A Bird”

Enjoy stunning, soaring views over New Hampshire via “To Be A Bird.”  This video by Kris Roller captures the autumn landscape and precious mountain and watershed lands … including Mount Sunapee. At 20 seconds, you’ll find yourself flying over Mount Sunapee and taking in breathtaking views of Lake Solitude and beyond. Take flight via —

 

2015 NH Wildlife Action Plan provides new data and maps

FG_WAP_2015_goshen8x11habitat

Shown here: maps for Goshen and Newbury, NH. Click on maps to enlarge.

FG_WAP_2015_goshen8x11scoring

FG_WAP_2015_newbury8x11scoringThe NH Wildlife Action Plan has been updated, and there are new data and information now available, including new Wildlife Habitat maps. Check out NH Fish & Game for town maps showing the “highest ranked wildlife habitat by ecological condition.”

The 2015 Wildlife Action Plan is a blueprint for conserving Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and their habitats in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s Plan identifies 169 SGCN, which represent a broad array of wildlife, and it focuses on the 27 habitats that support these species, such as lowland spruce-fir forest, salt marsh, shrublands, warm water lakes and ponds, vernal pools, and many others. – NH Fish and Game via http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/wap.html

F&G is hosting workshops around the state to explain what’s new in the 2015 plan. Registration information is available via www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/wap-events.html.

Share your interest in protecting important wildlife habitat on and around Mount Sunapee. Contact FOMS.

SooNipi Magazine: ‘Hiking Mount Sunapee’s Summit Trail’

SooNipiMagazineSummitTrail2015SummerEnjoy and explore the Summit Trail at Mount Sunapee State Park. The SooNipi Magazine, always a fun and informative read, delivers in its summer (2015) issue an article that takes you for a hike up the Summit Trail. Learn what makes this area of our state park so special and why this favorite hiking trail is now at risk! Read (download/view):

“Hiking Mount Sunapee’s Summit Trail” (SooNipi-Summer-2015 P.28-31)  (PDF 3MB)

You can pick up the SooNipi at various distribution sites in West-Central New Hampshire, or download/view the article by clicking on the link above.

For some, Mount Sunapee State Park conjures up images of alpine skiing. For many others, however, the park represents a smorgasbord of outdoor recreation opportunities – including hiking, hunting, nature study, backpacking, snowshoeing, and more. All are available at no cost in our public park. The Summit Hiking Trail on Mount Sunapee’s west flank offers access to all of the aforementioned non-skiing activities, and is a personal favorite…

The Summit Hiking Trail lies directly in the path of the proposed western expansion of the ski area. As currently planned, the hiking trail will be bisected at least half a dozen times by new ski slopes, and a new lift line will be gouged out of the heart of the ancient forest community. The closed forest canopy will now feature ski runs, towers for a ski lift, and pipelines and guns for snowmaking. The trail will still be there, possibly re-routed, but the peaceful woodland hike that exists today will be changed forever. – “Hiking Mount Sunapee’s Summit Trail” by Gary Stansfield

To learn how you can help protect the Summit Trail, contact FOMS today!

 

Is a ‘Timber Ripper’ coming to Mount Sunapee?

A Disney style amusement ride — a mountain coaster, which Okemo calls its “Timber Ripper” in Vermont — maybe coming to Mount Sunapee State Park. The agency that oversees NH parks recently approved a rollercoaster for Sunapee that will cut into and further diminish the wooded land near the base of the mountain.

A roller coaster at our jewel of a mountain state park? Have they no shame? Apparently not!  – Gary, an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast.

It looks we’re on a fast ride downhill that turns our precious parkland into a common theme park. One has to ask: What next for our New Hampshire state parks! – Cathy from Sunapee

Mt. Sunapee Public Hearing

Help protect the integrity of Mount Sunapee State Park. Add your voice at the Mt. Sunapee Public Hearing on May 5 (6pm). Location: Mount Sunapee State Park, Sunapee Lodge, Newbury, NH.

For more info and to see how you can help,  Contact FOMS.

Check out Okemo’s “Timber Ripper” in Vermont, via YouTube:

 

How do you describe Mount Sunapee’s rare old forest?

Polygon D 2014OctQ. – The manager of Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort has repeatedly stated that there is no old growth in the proposed expansion area. How do you and the Friends of Mount Sunapee respond to that claim?

A. – It is essential to understand that, even among forest ecologists, there is some debate over the definition of the term old growth. Quite frankly, the wording can be a semantic trap. The resort operators are missing the point by focusing on the term.

The focus should be on the facts:

1) New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau (NHB) identified and documented the existence of exemplary forest communities directly in the path of the proposed expansion.

2) Because of this designation, these forests are protected under state law (Native Plant Protection Act RSA 217- A:7).

Profile sketch of reservation

See the description below.

3) These forests do contain large, magnificent, old trees. Some of the older trees within the mosaic of exemplary forest communities on Mount Sunapee have been found to be over 250 years of age. These ancient trees are part of an ecological community, a complex interplay of plants (both living and dead), animals (including microscopic organisms), fungi, and soils that are not found in other, far more common forests that have been historically managed (i.e. logged) by humans. These unmanaged areas are the last remnants of the primeval forests that covered much of this area prior to European settlement.

4) The forests on Mount Sunapee are living laboratories, valuable to forest scientists, for educational purposes, and for simple enjoyment by the public. And, they occur in Mount Sunapee State Park, land protected many years ago and held in the public trust.

5) The first priority of Hamsphire Parks according to state law (RSA 216-A:1) is “To protect and preserve unusual scenic, scientific, historical, recreational, and natural areas of the state.”

What better fits that mandate than these beautiful exemplary forest communities?

Figure 1 (above), included in the NHB study (1999) “Old Forests and Rare Plants at the Mount Sunapee Ski Lease Area,” illustrates the reservation’s forest history on Mount Sunapee.

The reports states: “The original purchase of 656 acres in 1911 by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests was initiated to protect land from extensive logging which started in 1906 (Ayres19150). By 1934, SPNHF owned 1,185 acres, including cut-over and old-growth forests. In 1948, the state took ownership of the mountain and opened the Mount Sunapee State Park with a ski area on the north face of the mountain (MacAskill 1981).” – NH Natural Heritage Bureau (1999)

Herbert Welsh: Protect Mount Sunapee for All People

Hebert Welsh

Herbert Welsh (1851-1941), the walking crusader and father of land conservation on Mount Sunapee. (Photo from “The New Gentleman of the Road” – copyright 1921.)

Herbert Welsh: “Save Mount Sunapee for all people to all time!”

Herbert Welsh (1851-1941) was a political reformist, an artist, humanitarian, Indian Rights activist, and, in many ways, the father of land conservation on Mount Sunapee.

In the early 1900s, Welsh led the effort to protect land on Mount Sunapee for public use. At the time, from 1906-1909, extensive clear-cut logging was underway on the mountain’s north face.

“It seemed clear to Welsh and many of his [Sunapee] neighbors that the beauty of Mt. Sunapee was being ruined and its primeval forest and rare plants were in danger of disappearing… He was determined to put a stop to the destruction.” – SooNipi Magazine, Summer 2004 – Download/read: Herbert Welsh, SooNipi 2004 (pdf 492KB) – “Herbert Welsh: Walking Crusader” by Shelly Candidus

The unspoiled natural environmental inspired and moved Welsh into action.

It was earlier, in 1909, while summering in Sunapee, Welsh became alarmed about what was happening on Mount Sunapee. Paper companies controlled a greater part of the mountain, and they were clear-cutting and harvesting lumber, leaving a growing bald spot pocked by stumps and slash — destruction that Welsh could observe from his lakeside home. Further cutting that would leave the mountain bare.

Welsh went into action. Welsh’s first effort raised $8,000 and with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests purchased from the paper companies 656 acres of land and timber rights on Mount Sunapee’s northern slopes, including the summit and Lake Solitude.

Welsh spoke about his passion for protecting the mountain’s natural environment in his writings, including the “Redemption of Mount Sunapee,” which he penned while at his Sunapee home.

Welsh aspired “to save Mount Sunapee for all people to all time.”

The 1911 purchase on Mount Sunapee marked the Society’s first reservation. The campaign to protect Mount Sunapee continued with the acquisition of more conservation land, land to be open to all people for outdoor “recreation and health.” From 1922 to 1937, the Society purchased several more parcels on the mountain. In 1948 after acquiring 1,116 acres on Mount Sunapee, the Society transferred their holdings to the state of New Hampshire for a state park.

Welsh served the Society as a Vice-President At Large and as President of the Sunapee Chapter from its formation in 1912 to at least 1934.

If we saved Mount Sunapee we would indeed be doing this, but we would also be doing something higher and nobler than acting for our own protection; we would be helping to affect our part of the great national work of forest conservation. — Herbert Welsh in “Redemption of Mount Sunapee”

Timeline:

From 1909 to 1911 – Herbert Welsh leads a successful educational and fundraising campaign to protect Mount Sunapee after he discovers large paper companies intend to clear the mountain’s steep slopes and peak. He enlists the help of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

1911 – The Forest Society acquires 656 acres on Mount Sunapee, the Society’s first reservation, which is followed by additional purchases.

1915 – The Society’s Sunapee Chapter, under Welsh’s leadership, publishes “The Manual of Mount Sunapee.” It details the mountain’s geological history, flora, birds, and ferns.

The 1930s – The Newport Ski Club cuts alpine trails on Mount Sunapee.

1948 – The Forest Society transfers 1,116 acres on Mount Sunapee to the state of New Hampshire, and in December, the Mount Sunapee Ski Area opens at Mount Sunapee State Park.

 

 

Sunapee plan for state park is “unprecedented in NH” – FOMS ENews Jan. 2015

Mount Sunapee from Gunnison Lake, Goshen - January 2015

Mount Sunapee from Gunnison Lake, Goshen, N.H.  – January 2015

Friends of Mount Sunapee E-News, January 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

Read the Concord Monitor Editorial against the Sunapee Expansion!

Their editorial says this proposal for the park “is unprecedented in New Hampshire.”

Want to help us protect Mount Sunapee State Park?

For more information, see our website: www.FriendsofMountSunapee.org

Background: In the early 1900s, Herbert Welsh, a summer resident of Sunapee, worked with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to preserve Mount Sunapee. At that time, logging threatened the mountain’s ancient forest and natural beauty. In 1948, the state took over, formed Mount Sunapee State Park, and opened the ski area.

Now, our state park and its remarkable natural heritage face a new threat from resort-driven private development.

The ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park is currently leased to CNL Lifestyle Properties, a Florida-based real estate investment trust. CNL and the operator, Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort, want to build out the resort to the west into Goshen, where Okemo/MSR owns hundreds of acres that abut the park.

Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), is now considering this proposal, which is part of Okemo’s suggested master plan (2015-2019) for the Mount Sunapee ski area.

The State Should Say “No” to Sunapee Expansion

In its editorial, the Concord Monitor succinctly wrote:

Get it wrong and a premier part of the state, and land left in trust to its people, could be forever altered. [DRED Commissioner] Rose’s response should be to withhold judgment pending more public hearings and answers to a host of questions. Should he ultimately recommend in favor of expanding the ski area, its fate will be up to the Executive Council and Gov. Maggie Hassan. If it comes to that, like her predecessor, governor John Lynch, Hassan should say, ‘No.’”

“Anyone who wants to get a sense of what the Sunapee area could become should visit Ludlow, Vt., home to the Okemo ski area and soon to yet another ‘village’ of summer homes and condominiums. Is that what New Hampshire wants for its state parks? Read the Concord Monitor editorial, “State should not sign off on Sunapee plan.”

Read the full editorial at the Concord Monitor website.

Your Help is Needed to Preserve and Protect Mount Sunapee

Learn how YOU can help.

Mount Sunapee State Park was created by land purchased, gifted, and taken by eminent domain for public good, not private gain. The Friends of Mount Sunapee believes that cross border development is wrong for Mount Sunapee and wrong for our state; it will set a dangerous precedent for state lands across New Hampshire.

FOMS  supports improving our state park. However, we oppose Okemo’s western expansion plan for Mount Sunapee, which opens the way to cross-border private development. This not only violates the mission of our park, but will diminish an ecologically important landscape—the Sunapee-Pillsbury Highands.

Resort-driven real estate development will inevitably follow expansion and threaten the rural character of the communities in the mountain’s shadow. Additionally, other park uses and resources will be impacted. The expansion will destroy the current hiking experience now enjoyed along the Summit Trial, the only public hiking trail on the western side of the park, and it will cut into and diminish the park’s remarkable natural heritage including rare ancient forest.

We invite you to join us in our work to preserve our state park for its essential public values and to protect the region’s quality of life, clean waters and open spaces. For more information, please contact us.

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Help protect the Summit Hiking Trail on Mount Sunapee

HelpProtectSummitTrail_WinterFOMS“The proposed ‘West Bowl’ expansion will fatally compromise the Summit Trail,” says Steve Russell, Newbury. “The trail as it now exists will be gone.”

“The trail, which provides the general public with all-season access to the park, will be cut through with ski runs at four different locations.”

Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort is seeking a major expansion at Mount Sunapee State Park that will extend ski infrastructure across the western flank of Mount Sunapee onto  hundreds of acres owned by the resort operator.

Proposed new ski terrain and a new lift will not only bisect the hiking trail, it will cut into the rare ancient forest in the park.

The western edge of the park is not yet impacted by ski trails, ski lifts, and snow-making. Steve and others want to keep it that way.

It is not necessary to expand skiing in an area where an equally important public use of the park already exists. The use of the park for skiing is already well established. The public also has a right to experience the mountain in a natural undisturbed state.

Add your voice to protect the Summit Hiking Trail

The Summit Trail, developed in the early 1990s, was designed “to provide hikers with a woodlands trail away from ski operations,” according to the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition (SRKG). “Development of the trail was related to the early history of the SRK Greenway Coalition, incorporated in 1993.”

The Summit Trail is part of the Greenway, a 75-mile loop of trails that connect four State Parks, thee State Forests, and New Hampshire Fish and Game protected lands, and town, and private properties. The SRKG also links with the 50-mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway and Pillsbury State Park.

A forest treasure by Christopher Kane

This week conservation ecologist Christopher Kane passionately spoke out about protecting the old-growth forest on Mount Sunapee in a letter published in the Concord Monitor (Dec. 16, 2014). Chris Kane has been studying the older forest areas on Mount Sunapee on and off since 1997.

Old growth forest cannot be created. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I strongly urge any and all decision-makers who have a role in the upcoming decision to grant a ski lease expansion at Mount Sunapee to deny this request for the broader benefit of the citizens of New Hampshire.  Read more…

 

History of the Summit Hiking Trail

WinterHikeSummitTr2014Dec16_LH

“Enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities of New Hampshire state park properties. Join us as stewards of these natural wonders and help us to preserve them for future generations.” – New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, Explore, para. 3, 2014

Photo: Hiking along the forested Summit Trail at Mount Sunapee State Park, December 16, 2014. Courtesy photo.

What is the history of the Summit Trail?

“The Summit Trail was developed with NH State Parks and Trails Bureau assistance in the early 1990s expressly to provide hikers with a woodlands trail away from ski operations. Development of the trail was related to the early history of the SRK Greenway Coalition, incorporated in 1993. A 1997 memorandum between DRED/Parks and the three volunteer trail groups maintaining hiking trails in the Park recognized trail responsibilities of these volunteer groups. The 75-mile SRK Greenway connects 4 State Parks, 3 State Forests, and land conserved by NH Fish and Game as well as town and private properties. The SRKG also links with the 50-mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway and Pillsbury State Park. In sum, hiking trails and the broader conserved landscapes which those trails traverse are crucial to the future of both New Hampshire’s self-identity and long-term recreational economy. — Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition, letter to Comm. Rose (DRED) in response to Mount Sunapee Resort’s Master Development Plan for 2015-2019.

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