Archive | advocacy

PBS Brief But Spectacular take on environmental literacy and old growth

Check out this Brief But Spectacular take aired on PBS. Naturalist John Bates speaks about the purpose of his work, to foster “environmental literacy” by “connecting time through old-growth forests.”

And here is related information about John Bates and old growth, including the exemplary and ancient forest on Mount Sunapee.

New NH rule, if made permanent, will put endangered species at risk

A list of threatened and endangered wildlife in New Hampshire is available via Fish and Game.

Environmental organizations in New Hampshire “say a new state rule, which has support from the construction industry and could become permanent, puts endangered species at greater risk from development.” See the reporting of Annie Ropeik for NHPR:

Instead of “no adverse impacts,” the new rule says only that project designs must “not jeopardize the continued existence” of a protected species, or destroy critical habitat.

For groups like the Nature Conservancy, this implied that projects could be allowed to move forward as long as they didn’t cause extinctions – which raised serious concerns.

The Nature Conservancy wrote to DES about the issue in January, along with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Appalachian Mountain Club and the state Audubon and Lakes Association – See NHPR, Enviro. Groups Say New State Rule For Developers Puts Endangered Species At Risk (February 18, 2020)

A list of threatened and endangered wildlife in New Hampshire is available via Fish and Game. Or view endangered-threatened-wildlife-nh (pdf).

Eagle Times: Sunapee group seeks protection of old growth

The Friends of Mount Sunapee continues its work on conservation, natural resource protection, education, and advocacy. Our current focus includes outreach regarding the rare ancient forest in Mount Sunapee State Park.

The enduring forest on Mount Sunapee

We invite you to read a recent article via the Eagle Times: “Sunapee group seeks protection for old growth,” Oct. 4, 2019.

Or get the story via FOMS website: Sunapee group seeks protection for old-growth forest | News | eagletimes.com. (pdf 96kb)

Check out:

 

Councilors want more info on Mt. Sunapee lease amendments – audio 10.17.2018

Here is the audio of the Executive Council discussion on Oct. 17, 2018, about Mount Sunapee and the proposed lease amendments. (eight minutes, mp3)

 

Last week, the Executive Council voted 5-0 to table lease amendments for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park. The councilors asked for more information and time before deciding on three lease changes, including a West Bowl amendment.

Vail Resorts took over the lease and operations of the state-owned ski area last month.

Executive Council Public Notice 10.23.2018

Executive Council Mount Sunapee meeting Oct. 23

The council will hold an information meeting on Tues., Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. at the State House (Executive Council Chambers). The meeting is open to the public. Click on the public notice (to the left).

Questions and comments about Mount Sunapee

It is essential to contact the Executive Council members with your questions and comments on the lease changes proposed for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park.

We welcome your comments and questions, as well. See FOMS contact page.

See FOMS prior post for more info.

 

 

DNCR to announce Mount Sunapee lease decision at Sept. 26 meeting

Special Alert: Mount Sunapee State Park Public Information Session – Wednesday, September 26 (6 pm) at Mount Sunapee State Park (Sunapee Lodge), Route 103, Newbury, N.H.

New Hampshire DNCR Commissioner Sarah Stewart (Department of Natural and Cultural Resources) will announce her decision on the Mount Sunapee ski area lease assignment to Vail Resorts at a public meeting on Wed., Sept. 26, 2018.

We encourage the public to attend this important meeting. There will be an opportunity for public comment and questions.

Per the DNCR release: “The Department has received a request to consent to the assignment of the lease to The Sunapee Difference, LLC, which will be indirectly owned by VR NE Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. (“Vail”). After careful consideration of public comments and working with the Attorney General’s Office, Commissioner Sarah Stewart will release the decision on the proposed transfer and details related to the decision.”

DNCR will post the decision and related documents on its website after announcing its decision on September 26.

NH Parks posted on Monday additional materials about the potential lease assignment. We’ve added these documents to FOMS website:

Background
In June 2018, Vail Resorts announced that it was seeking to acquire the ski area lease and operations at Mount Sunapee.

The September 26 meeting will be the second information session in two months on the Triple Peaks sale to Vail Resorts. On July 25, Commissioner Stewart and N.H. Attorney General Gordon MacDonald hosted a session that included remarks by Tim and Diane Mueller (current operator/Triple Peaks), a presentation by Vail representatives, and public comment.

View the July 2018 Mount Sunapee State Park information session via Newport Community TV.

FOMS advocates for diligent and transparent management of the state-owned ski area. We seek public policy and process decisions that restore public trust and honor the original intent of leasing a significant portion of our iconic state park to a private operator.

“New Hampshire citizens look to the State to exercise vigorous oversight and defend the public trust, no matter the operator or leaseholder at Mount Sunapee State Park. We also look to lessees at the park for leadership and operational and development plans that reflect local concerns and interests and respect our state park’s public values and the RSAs that protect our parks and natural heritage.” – Friends of Mount Sunapee, at the July 25 Mount Sunapee State Park Information Session.

FOMS Mount Sunapee submitted comments called for:

  • A “public hearing” to review the lease transfer request
  • Immediate formation of an Oversight and Administration Commission to manage the lease
  • An independent financial and operational audit of lessees to ensure lease compliance
  • Protection of the 484-acre exemplary forest within the State Park
  • Permanent protection of Mount Sunapee’s western slopes from resort development, land conservation that respects the original leasehold area.
  • Compliance with signage and advertising requirements to indicate state (public) ownership of the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park.

See FOMS comments, August 6, 2018.

See Vail’s June 4, 2018, announcement.

Join us on Wed., Sept. 26 at Mount Sunapee State Park
The upcoming public info session will help give insight into the potential changes coming to the ski area and Mount Sunapee State Park and possible future impacts to our local communities and region.

Film tells of lost ancient forests of New England

Mount Sunapee State Park contains primeval forest, first documented in the Manual of Mount Sunapee in 1915 and rediscovered in 1997 by conservation ecologist Chris Kane. Permanent protection of Mount Sunapee’s “exemplary” and ancient forests is a priority for the Friends of Mount Sunapee. The film The Lost Forests of New England” further informs and inspires our work.

Forest film informs and inspires

What is an ancient or old-growth forest? What do they look like? Why are they important?

“The Lost Forests of New England – Eastern Old Growth,” is a one-hour film released in May 2018 by New England Forests. The film answers questions about ancient forest history, science, and more! It tells of the old-growth forests of New England: “what they once were, what changes have taken place across central New England since European settlers arrived, and what our remnant old-growth stands look like today.”

The film features presentations by David Foster, David Orwig, Neil Pederson (Harvard Forest) Tony D’Amato (University of Vermont) Tom Wessels (Antioch University New England) Peter Dunwiddie (University of Washington) Bob Leverett (Native Tree Society) Joan Maloof (Old Growth Forest Network).

Recommended reading

“…these ancient forests are small fragments of what once was, and as such are vulnerable to loss from ignorance of their value and ecological import… To be protected, their existence must be known to those who would care enough about them to be vigilant (that would be you). But the other side of that coin is that sometimes, attention by too many well-meaning enthusiasts results in a place succumbing to “too much love”. That put us in a tight spot… we wanted to see these remnants protected forever, but not at the cost of losing them to heavy traffic!”

Mount Sunapee’s exemplary forest

Friends of Mount Sunapee, following over a century of preservation efforts on the mountain, advocates for the protection of the state park’s natural heritage for current and future generations.

FOMS seeks protection of its large forest ecosystems including ancient forests within the Exemplary Natural Community Systems (ENCS).

See our Natural Heritage page for more information.

Courtesy photo, Mount Sunapee State Park, 2018.

 

 

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? Here’s how.

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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