Archive | Natural Heritage

Annual plan for Mount Sunapee ski area due May 15

The Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park is due on or before May 15th. This will be the first annual plan submitted to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) by Vail Resorts.

May 20, 2019, update: Here is the Annual Operating Plan 2019-2020 (pdf 13 MB.

Vail acquired the Mount Sunapee ski area lease and operations in September 2018.

In the annual plan, the operator of the ski area describes maintenance and capital improvement projects proposed for the coming year. The plan also gives an update on previously approved projects and reports on past year activities, including skier visit.

Before Commissioner Sarah Stewart (of DNCR) issues a written response to the Vail, we expect the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting.

Update: The Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee will meet on Wed., May 29 at 10 a.m. at Veterans Hall, 944 Route 103, Newbury.

At that meeting, which is held in Newbury, the operator presents the plan. Advisory committee members have a chance to ask questions and provide comment. And there is usually an opportunity for public comment.

When the AOP is available, FOMS will post it to Latest News. And we will also post the advisory committee meeting date and agenda when available.

If you can assist the FOMS Public Policy Committee in reviewing the ski area plan, please contact us.

Ski area plans

See FOMS on-line library for the current annual operating plan and the public oversight policy. The oversight policy intends to guide the public process in the consideration of annual and five-year plans for the state-owned ski area.

For ski area projects approved in the current five-year master plan, see our State Park Management and Policies page. The Master Development Plan and Environmental Management Plan (2016-2020) is available here.

The public oversight policy for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park states:

The Annual Operating Plan (AOP) will be subject to the following standards:

•  The AOP shall allow public access to the leased premises for recreational and park activities.
•  The AOP shall be submitted on or before May 15 of each year.
•  DNCR shall require the AOP to be submitted to the Mount Sunapee Ski Area Advisory Committee and the Town of Newbury for review.
•  The AOP shall describe in detail the following:

a) Types of recreational activities available to the public
b) Ski lift operations
c) Snowmaking and grooming operations
d) Ski support services
e) Maintenance procedures
f) Security procedures
g) Emergency operating plan
h) Status of special use permits and leases
i) Marketing and advertising
j) Environmental management program
k) Signage
l) Utilities and roads
m) Implementation of MDP site improvements (after approval)

• DNCR shall notify the Operator in writing of a final schedule of operation no later than June 30th of each year.

 

 

Upcoming lectures focus on NH forests, loons, and then geology

The annual Cottrell-Baldwin Environmental Lecture Series is underway at the Caroline A. Fox Research and Demonstration Forest, 309 Center Road, Hillsborough. The upcoming lectures take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and are open to the public free of charge.

  • Tuesday, March 26: “The Original Forests of New Hampshire” by Charles Cogsbill, forest ecologist and co-author of “The Changing Nature of the Maine Woods”
  • Tuesday, April 2: “New Hampshire’s Loons” by Harry Vogel, senior biologist and executive director of the Loon Preservation Committee
  • Tuesday, April 9: “More than Granite…An Introduction to New Hampshire’s Geology” by Frederick “Rick” Chormann, New Hampshire state geologist

More information is available via the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests event page: From the Ground Up.

The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Forest Society and New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands.

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 published in May 2018 by New England Forests. The film answers questions about ancient forest history and 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).

Learn about Mount Sunapee’s natural heritage via our website.

Please contact FOMS if you’d like more info or would like to help us in our work.

For FOMS updates, sign up here.

Courtesy photo, Mount Sunapee State Park, 2018.

 

 

FOMS comments on Mount Sunapee lease change

Mount Sunapee Comments are due today, by 4 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018, to DNCR on the lease change proposal at Mount Sunapee State Park. Email: MountSunapeeComments@dncr.nh.gov

The Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources received from Friends of Mount Sunapee comments that include a call for:

  • A Public Hearing
  • An Oversight and Administration Commission to manage the ski area lease
  • Permanent protection of Mount Sunapee’s natural heritage and western slopes from resort development, land conservation that respects the intent of the original lease and leasehold area

Friends of Mount Sunapee (FOMS), following over a century of preservation efforts for the mountain, advocates for the protection of Mount Sunapee State Park’s unique natural heritage for current and future generations. We seek protection of its large forest ecosystems including ancient forests within the Exemplary Natural Community Systems (ENCS)… Read FOMS Mount Sunapee comments 2018Aug6

FOMS Summary of Positions July 10, 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.

Sarah Stewart to be next NH DNCR commissioner

Sarah Stewart will be the next commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The agency oversees the divisions of Parks & Recreation, Forests & Lands, Historical Resources, Film & Digital Media, Libraries, and N.H. State Council on the Arts.

After a public hearing April 6 on the nomination, the Executive Council confirmed Stewart on April 11 in a unanimous vote. Stewart will replace Jeff Rose, who held the position after the re-organization of the Department and Resources and Economic Development (DRED) in 2017. Staring in 2014, before the agency breakup, Rose served as the commissioner of DRED.

Representatives of Friends of Mount Sunapee (FOMS) attended both (April 6 and 11) council meetings on the Stewart nomination.

Mount Sunapee State Park, one of 93 state parks, is known for its unique natural heritage and outdoor recreation.

“As commissioner, I intend to spend a lot of my time out of the office, making myself available to the organizations, clubs, volunteers and local leaders who care so deeply for the parks, land, historical and cultural assets in their communities,” Stewart said. — via UnionLeader.com

FOMS action goals include:

  • To compel the state of New Hampshire to recognize that its primary responsibility is to serve as guardian of the public interest at Mount Sunapee State Park, and to deny efforts that undermine the essential conservation and public recreational values for which the park exists to provide.
  • To network with individuals and groups across the state that support the wise and thoughtful use of New Hampshire’s public parks and forested lands so as to protect their natural heritage for future generations.

Lecture series celebrates N.H.’s natural resources

Wildflowers, our native song dog (the eastern coyote), log driving, and bogs and ferns are the subject of four different programs in the 2018 Cottrell-Baldwin Environmental Lecture Series that starts March 20th at Fox Forest in Hillsborough.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the Caroline A. Fox Research & Demonstration Forest co-sponsor the presentations:

  • Tuesday, March 20, 2018 – Wildflowers of New England with Ted Elliman, New England Wildflower Society botanist and author.
  • Tuesday, March 27, 2018 – The Real Eastern Coyote with Chris Schadler, wildlife biologist specializing in wild candis.
  • Tuesday, April 3, 2018 – Log Drives of the Connecticut River Valley with Helen Pike, journalist and author.
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 – Bogs & Ferns with Dr. Ronald B. Davis, photographer and author.

All programs start at 7 p.m. and are open to the public free of charge. For more information, go to forestsociety.org/thingstodo.

Copyright 2019 Friends of Mount Sunapee