Archive | natural heritage

Rewilding: Bob Leverett on old growth, carbon sequestration, forest recovery

Voices & Views shares an interview with forest expert Bob Leverett via Rewilding. The discussion delves into the complex web of life in old-growth forests, carbon sequestration, and the edge-effects of rewilding areas adjacent to old growth.

Leverett is the co-founder of the Native Tree Society, co-founder and President of Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest, chairperson for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Forest Reserves Scientific Advisory Committee, the co-author of the American Forests Champion Tree-Measuring Guidelines handbook.

He is also co-author of several books including the Sierra Club Guide to Ancient Forests of the Northeast.

This compelling interest placed him in the center of the early old growth preservation movements, which continue to this day.  – Rewilding

Related article: “The push for standing forest protections in US climate policy” (January 19, 2021) via Environmental Health News

Voices & Views

Latest News from FOMS

 


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Large Maple Exemplary Forest  Polygon 23 

 

February 8, 2021

On November 5, 2020 the NH Dept. Natural and Cultural Resources held an online public hearing regarding Vail’s draft 2021-2025 Master Development/Environmental Management Plan for the leased area of Mount Sunapee State Park. Currently the plan is still under review by the Commissioner of  the Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Friends of Mount Sunapee submitted comments focused specifically on impacts from previously approved but not yet implemented projects that would directly impact Mount Sunapee State Park’s unique State Documented 484 acre exemplary forest(ENCS) . (see attached letter below)

 

 



The 484 acre forest also includes the exemplary forest in the west bowl which would be eliminated by the expansion plan submitted in 2015.

FOMS has called upon the State to work with the NH Natural Heritage Bureau (which has sole authority under NH law to designate the exemplary status of the forest) and the current lessee Vail corp. to permanently protect this irreplaceable NH state treasure. 

Additionally the Newbury Town Conservation Commission submitted a letter to the State which supports the permanent protection of the 484 acre exemplary forest. This recommendation will continue to remain a priority for the Conservation Commission in the coming year.  The entire  forest is within the town limits of Newbury.

We encourage you to write Dept. of Natural and Cultural Commissioner Sarah Stewart urging permanent protection of Mount Sunapee State Park’s unique forest.

Send comments to :

Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources
COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE
Sarah L. Stewart, Commissioner
603-271-2411


FOMS-MDP-EMP-2020-2025-Comments-2

Lastly FOMS is currently engaged in a fundraising appeal. Thank you to all those who have responded thus far. We could not continue to maintain our organizational outreach  to inform our members and the public without your help. 

 

Resistance Radio talks old forest ecology and protection

Resistance Radio recently aired an interview with Joan Maloof, an old-growth advocate. During the discussion, Maloof relates personal stories as she teaches about forest ecology, the importance of preserving old forests, and the work of the Old-Growth Forest Network. We share that interview here. And to learn about the rare old forest in Mount Sunapee State Park, see the links below.

“Joan Maloof, Professor Emeritus of biology and environmental studies at Salisbury University, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to preserve, protect and promote the country’s few remaining stands of old-growth forest. She spends her time lecturing, writing, visiting forests, assisting private landowners, and supporting local groups trying to protect community forests from development. She is the author of four books about trees and forests.” – Resistance Radio, May 24, 2020

Related links

Voices & Views

The Environmental Hour explores Mount Sunapee’s rare old forest

Photo courtesy of Lisa Coté, host of The Environmental Hour on Portsmouth, N.H., community radio WSCA. Images from a June 2020 hike at Mount Sunapee State Park.

The Environmental Hour on Portsmouth, New Hampshire, community radio WSCA 106.1 FM recently explored the exemplary and old forest in Mount Sunapee State Park with Steve Russell, president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee. The state-documented 484-acre exemplary natural community system in the Park includes enduring, rare old-growth surrounded by mature forest.

“When I learned about this (old forest on Mount Sunapee) … I said I wanna go, I want to see what this is, I want to learn more about this,” said Lisa Coté, host of The Environmental Hour

Coté is a certified hydrogeologist as well as an avid hiker, skier, and environmentalist. She learned of the rare forest on Sunapee from listening to the Earth Day 2020 webinar hosted by the New Hampshire Sierra Club and the Friends of Mount Sunapee. After contacting FOMS and arranging for a hike through the old forest, Coté interviewed Russell on-air.

“What follows is an audio journey through the forest and the past and current efforts to preserve Mount Sunapee’s amazing forest,” says Russell.

Audio from WSCA The Environmental Hour, June 19, 2020

 

Related FOMS articles and resources

Sunapee Mountain hike bestows far more than one seeks

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. – Henry David Thoreau

Take a walk in nature and smell the wild air.

Hiking the Summit Trail along Mount Sunapee’s west flank

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. – Henry David Thoreau

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks. – John Muir

At Mount Sunapee State Park, the forested hiking trails take you through an exemplary natural community system, which encompasses rare old forest.

As you explore the great outdoors, please stay on the trails and be mindful of trail conditions and others on the trails. Follow hiking guidelines and Leave No Trace practices. Stay safe. Be well.

Friends of Mount Sunapee photos: Mount Sunapee State Park, hiking the Summit Trail (2020).

Further reading and viewing

Voices & Views

Everlasting Forests: The Mount Sunapee Story

Everlasting forests, Mount Sunapee State Park“Everlasting Forests: The Mount Sunapee Story”—a Friends of Mount Sunapee presentation—is now available online.

View (via YouTube: “Everlasting Forests: The Mount Sunapee Story” 26-minutes).

New Hampshire’s unique natural heritage includes the rare forest on Mount Sunapee, located on public land. A FOMS PowerPoint program—”Everlasting Forests”—tells this under-told story. It is about citizen activism, protection of Mount Sunapee in the early 1900s, and on-going efforts to preserve the exemplary old forest at Mount Sunapee State Park.

Sharing the Mount Sunapee story

In an Earth Day celebration on April 22, 2020, the Friends of Mount Sunapee and the New Hampshire Sierra Club teamed up in a live webinar that included a showing of “Everlasting Forests.” Sierra Club Executive Director Cathy Corkery and Chapter Chair Jerry Curran led the online event with FOMS President Steve Russell. The program included attendee questions.

The Friends of Mount Sunapee welcomes opportunities to share the Mount Sunapee story.

In addition to the video, check out our Natural Heritage page and brochure Mount Sunapee State Park’s Rare Old Forest (pdf 5 MB).

Click below to view “Everlasting Forests: The Mount Sunapee Story.”

See FOMS Current Action

In Mount Sunapee State Park is an exemplary natural community system that encompasses a rare old forest. This forest is an irreplaceable part of New Hampshire’s natural and cultural heritage, which deserves and requires permanent protection. See how you can help: See Current Action.

(Update: Video link changed to a YouTube channel on May 5, 2020.)

“Nature’s peace will flow into you …”

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ― John Muir

Friends of Mount Sunapee President Steve Russell shares this photo from a local hike at Mount Sunapee State Park, the home to this “gnarly old guy.”

While we share this photo, we urge all to hike locally and responsibly and follow safe practices. There is still snow and ice in the mountains and an accident can endanger you and the first responders and put further strain on our healthcare providers.

Please see the NH State Parks Response to Covid-19 for updates and information.

When the Sunapee Chapter of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests published the “Manual of Mount Sunapee” in 1915, it chose to include the John Muir quote, shown above. The booklet details Mount Sunapee’s geological history, flora, birds, and ferns. You can view the manual via the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

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.

The under-told story: Mount Sunapee’s rare forest

Many people know Mount Sunapee as a fun place to ski. Few know the story of its rare forest. Yet, audiences at the Claremont MakerSpace and Goshen’s Brook Road Inn recently heard Steve Russell, president of Friends of Mount Sunapee, tell that story about an enduring, exemplary forest in Mount Sunapee State Park.

“Everlasting Forests: The Mount Sunapee Story,” is a FOMS presentation about preservation efforts that began over a century ago. It is also about a critical and vulnerable environment, which has no permanent protective status.

“I didn’t even know there were old-growth trees up there,” offered one member of these diverse audiences, “and I ski there all the time.”

The Friends of Mount Sunapee program “Everlasting Story” describes the ancient and exemplary forest at Mount Sunapee State Park.

In cooperation with the Sullivan County Conservation District for its most recent two presentations, FOMS has been informing citizens in towns that surround Mount Sunapee about this irreplaceable old forest.

Russell stressed the importance of thinking of this area on the mountain, not as separate parcels with ancient trees, but as an entire and interdependent biological entity: an exemplary natural community system (ENCS). Through natural processes, the ENCS supports and protects itself through flora and fauna cooperation.

Russell stated that attempts to develop even small areas of this ENCS would damage and diminish the system. If preserved, this exemplary and old forest can be viewed, studied, and enjoyed into an ongoing future.

More about Mount Sunapee’s rare old forest and the Friends of Mount Sunapee

Film showing: “The Lost Forests of New England”

A film showing of “The Lost Forests of New England” will be held Thursday, January 30, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, in the Putnam Theater at Keene State College.

Courtesy of the co-sponsors, the Harris Center for Conservation Education, the Monadnock Conservancy, and the Keene State College Film Society, we share the program announcement below.

An old-growth hemlock stand. (photo © Ray Asselin / New England Forests)

This homegrown documentary tells the story of central New England’s old-growth forests through drone and wildlife camera footage, as well as field interviews with Tom Wessels, David Foster, and other renowned ecologists. Learn how our forests have changed over time, and how to recognize remnant old-growth stands today. After the film, Tom Wessels, filmmaker Ray Asselin, and Bob Leverett of the Native Tree Society will be on hand for questions.

Please visit the Harris Center website for more information.  https://harriscenter.org/events/film-showing-the-lost-forests-of-new-england

NOTE: Mount Sunapee State Park contains primeval forest, first documented in the Manual of Mount Sunapee in 1915. Permanent protection of Mount Sunapee’s “exemplary” and old forests is a priority for the Friends of Mount Sunapee. The film “The Lost Forests of New England” further informs and inspires our work.

 

VGJ: Citizens work to protect ancient forest on Mt. Sunapee

View “Citizens Working to Save Ancient Forest on Mt. Sunapee” via the Valley Green Journal website at www.valleygreenjournal.com.

The Valley Green Journala local independent grassroots newsletter, recently published an article about the work that Friends of Mount Sunapee is doing to preserve the ancient forest on the mountain. 

The article is in the Journal’s December 2019 – January 2020 issue. View or download it via the VGJ website at www.valleygreenjournal.com.

The Journal, based in the southern Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, is published by Jan Lambert and Carmen Bywater. Lambert and Bywater are currently assisting FOMS with outreach and in updating a brochure. 

For more information:

 

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:

 

DNCR announces Sunapee lease transfer and amendments

Read FOMS latest Enews

The state-owned ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park recently took another significant turn.

Commissioner Sarah Stewart of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) consented to a lease transfer request that allows industry giant Vail Resorts to take over the lease and operations of the Mount Sunapee ski area.

Proposed lease amendments accompanied the announcement and will go to the Governor and the Executive Council this month.

The commissioner delivered the decision at a public meeting at the park on September 26. View the meeting and lease amendment discussion via Newport Community TV Online.

DNCR proposed lease revisions to:

  1. Extend to Vail Resorts the 2016 lease amendment that enables resort development of the West Bowl.
  2. Add a “change in control provision.”
  3. Reference an advisory commission.

Read more…

 

 

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.

 

 

‘The primeval forest of Mount Sunapee’

Conservation ecologist Chris Kane, on June 30, 2018, led a hike at Mount Sunapee State Park, where he shared his knowledge of the area’s rare ancient forest.

Courtesy of the Eagle Times, July 28, 2018, this article by Steve Russell, president of Friends of Mount Sunapee, reports on a recent hike with conservation ecologist Chris Kane.

“Mount Sunapee contains as much as 10 percent of all the known ancient forest in New Hampshire, and the great majority south of the White Mountains.” – Chris Kane, June 30, 2018

In a walk through time into a forest never logged or otherwise affected by human endeavors, Chris Kane, conservation ecologist, led our small group of hikers last weekend into Mount Sunapee State Park’s primeval forest. Over the course of a three-and-a-half-hour journey, we hikers heard this naturalist identify and interpret the complexity of Sunapee’s ancient forests…

So, like those who were drawn to Sunapee’s rare forests over a century ago, we emerged from the forest with a new appreciation for the uniqueness of this special part of Mount Sunapee State Park and with an understanding that these forests represent the last vestige of wilderness in this region of New Hampshire: they are what make Mount Sunapee State Park unique, and we should do everything we can to ensure that they are permanently protected.

Read more via the Eagle Times, The primeval forests of Mount Sunapee 

Or view The primeval forests of Mount Sunapee | Lifestyles | eagletimes.com (pdf)

The ancient forest on Mount Sunapee
  • For information about Mount Sunapee natural heritage and its ancient forest, see the FOMS library of documents.
  • For info about our work to protect Mount Sunapee, please contact us.

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!

 

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)

Copyright © 2020 Friends of Mount Sunapee