Bradford Bridge – April 2015 (page 9)
Letter to the Editor
The Bradford Conservation Commission, charged with advising on issues impacting natural resources, is opposed to the proposed expansion of the lease agreement with Okemo Mountain Resort at the Mount Sunapee State Park for the following reasons:
* Mount Sunapee was preserved from development and unsustainable forestry practices in the early 1900s by concerned citizens. It became a State Park in 1948 to permanently protect this landscape and assure public access. With the proposed Master Development Plan, Okemo Mountain Resort seeks control of an additional section of the park for the purpose of increasing the value of private, commercial development.
* If expansion is allowed, this unprecedented action of the Department of Resources and Economic Development will have legal and policy implications that could permanently damage land held in trust for the public. It will set a policy standard for future actions on other public lands.
*The January report of the NH Natural Heritage Bureau states that this development would impact forest of ‘local and statewide significance’. These patches of exemplary forest are part of a larger mosaic of rare and important plant communities that are worthy of study and preservation and not exploitation for financial gain.
*In addition, the destruction of the western slope forests for ski runs will limit public use of existing foot trails and degrade the Sunapee-Pillsbury Highlands project on which so much effort and resources have been spent.
There are many other financial questions that are unanswered about how the State would manage a ski area divided on public and private land, how revenues would be distributed, and who would finance the proposed expansion but our concerns are on how this natural icon of the area would be altered.
J. Ann Eldridge, Chair – Bradford Conservation Commission