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The latest news from FOMS

Mt. Sunapee leaseholder Och-Ziff is in the news again

You can’t make this stuff up. The headline reads:

Och-Ziff So Messed Up Top Exec. Is Fleeing To The Comparative Calm Of Cryptocurrencies

Is this who we want as a leaseholder at Mount Sunapee State Park?

In 2017, Och-Ziff, a criminally sanctioned hedge fund, assumed the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee. State officials said the deal, structured as it was, precluded State scrutiny. Och-Ziff took over the Sunapee lease without any review by Governor and Executive Councilor. The resort and ski area takes in more than 1,000 acres of public land and infrastructure.

To join FOMS citizen advocates working on oversight and management issues, please contact us. We could use the help.

Och-Ziff So Messed Up Top Exec. Is Fleeing To The Comparative Calm Of Cryptocurrencies

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.

Public meeting discusses update of Sunapee watershed plan

Water resource protection in the Sunapee watershed is the topic of a public meeting on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at the Lake Sunapee Protective Association Learning Center, 63 Main Street, Sunapee.

“LSPA has been awarded a federal grant through the NHDES Watershed Assistance Program to update the existing Management Plan for the Sunapee Watershed,” according to the announcement. “We welcome town board members and the public to learn about and contribute to the 2-year process.”

“The Sunapee watershed consists of portions of the towns of Sunapee, Newbury, New London, Springfield, Goshen, and Sutton.”

For more information see, the LSPA event listing  —
http://www.lakesunapee.org/new-events-1/2018/4/12/a9doie8pc5aey9mi9wuiim14luwkvl

The 2008 management plan is available on FOMS website —
https://www.friendsofmountsunapee.org/watersheds/

Saving Special Places conference to be held April 7 in Alton

Saving Special Places, New Hampshire’s annual land conservation conference will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton. This year’s conference will offer 30 workshops. Topics will include conservation planning; farmland conservation; wildlife habitats and species; legal issues; “creative ways to connect,” and more. Additionally, the event provides networking opportunities with colleagues and practitioners in land conservation. For more information, go to savingspecialplaces.org.

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.

Up ‘n down weather cuts into skier visits and budgets

“Navigating the weather continues to be an up-and-down elevator ride for area ski resorts, who say sudden warm weather meeting with cold has impacted their visitors — and their budgets,” reports Katy Savage in the Eagle Times (February 26, 2018).

See The Elevator Effect via https://www.eagletimes.com/articles/the-elevator-effect/

“While Presidents Day week is usually one of the busiest weeks for resorts, a 60-degree day at the start took a toll that several say they were unable to recover from,” writes Savage, who spoke to Okemo and Mount Sunapee Resort spokespeople and other ski area operators.

This local article comes as we read a new report published by Protect Our Winters, a climate advocacy nonprofit.

This analysis updates the 2012 study and furthers our understanding of how warming temperatures have impacted the industry…

The winter sports economy is important for the vitality of U.S. mountain communities. This report shows the urgency for the US to deploy solutions to reduce emissions and presents a roadmap for the winter sports industry to take a leading role in advocating for solutions. – See Protect Our Winters

See related articles:

Report shows climate change will hurt winter sports industry” via WMUR

New report finds climate change could take a $1 billion bite from winter sports” via NPR

“UNH researchers find effects climate change could accelerate mid-century” – via UNH

“Beech trees booming as climate changes, and that’s bad for N.H. forests” via Concord Monitor

How can I share timely news

To share with FOMS your news, information and images, please contact us.

Mount Sunapee lease cited at HB 1456 hearing

Citing what occurred at Mount Sunapee State Park and the need for transparency and public trust in the management of our parks, the N. H. Sierra Club testified in early February in support of HB 1456, a bill “relative to state acceptance of the lowest reasonable bid contract and relative to the sale, lease, or transfer of state property.”

The lease of the Mount Sunapee ski area most recently changed hands in 2017 “without public notice or legislative transparency,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Cathy Corkery.

“At the request of NH Sierra Club and others, the state did hold a public meeting, but it was scheduled months after the transaction was final,” said Corkery. “At that public meeting, the New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald agreed that the lease approval process was inadequate.”

In 2017, the criminally sanctioned hedgefund Och-Ziff (OZ) purchased the Mount Sunapee lease from the real estate investment trust CNL Lifestyle Properties. The state-owned ski area was first leased by the state to Okemo in 1998. Okemo sold the lease to CNL in 2008.

Controversy has followed the Mount Sunapee lease prior to and after its inception. The re-occuring issues relate to resort expansion, proposed private real estate development, and the state’s failure to protect the public’s interest and the conservation and public values of the park.

NOTE: On February 23, 2018, the House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration voted HB 1456 “inexpedient to legislate,” which kills the bill for this year.

See https://legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB1456/2018

Friends of Mount Sunapee continues to advocate for transparent and complete reporting of the financial and managerial operations of the ski area lease (of public conservation land) at Mount Sunapee State Park. We believe this is key to compliance and ethical management.

How can I help

The lease sale of state property to OZ without public review is the subject of Friends of Mount Sunapee committee work. For more information or to learn how you can help, please contact us.

Goshen holds hearing Dec. 7 on Goshen Rec District language

Proposed wording changes in the Goshen zoning and building ordinances for the town’s Recreation District will be discussed at a public hearing held by the the Planning Board on Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 7 pm at the Goshen Town Hall.

Adopted in 2014, the regulations for the Goshen Recreation District address “year-round recreational and other uses” within the leasehold area at Mount Sunapee State Park and on adjoining lands owned by Sunapee Land Holdings, a limited liability company controlled by the operator of Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort.

The town planners seek to clarify “Uses Permitted (subject to site plan review approval by the Planning Board)” by adding: “A.4.b19 Anything not specifically listed above needs approval from the Planning Board and/or Zoning Board.”

Earlier in the year, Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort installed a 3D archery range in Goshen on state park land without prior consultation with the planning board or site plan review. According to town-posted correspondence on the subject, the planning board hopes that the wording change will prevent similar problems in the future.

“This will be a public hearing where residents may voice their concerns if desired,” the notice states. No wording is proposed to be removed or otherwise altered in this section, town planners say. The wording change will go to voters during Town Meeting in March 2018.

View the proposed wording change Recreation District Changes PDF (93kb) or visit the Town of Goshen website for Planning Board minutes (see November 2, 2017).  Contact FOMS for more information.

FOMS and NHSC seek full review of Och-Ziff Mt. Sunapee deal

Before the August 22 informational meeting at Mount Sunapee State Park, some people demonstrated their concerns about the state’s management of the park by holding signs that read: “Lease Violated,” “Mount Sunapee State Park, Endangered Species,”and “Where Is State Oversight?”

The Friends of Mount Sunapee and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club are seeking a full and transparent review into Och-Ziff’s acquisition of the Mount Sunapee lease. In April 2017, Och-Ziff, a New York based hedge fund criminally sanctioned under the Foreign Corruptions Act, acquired the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park.

“We appeal to elected state officials to begin a complete and transparent review of this lease acquisition and all related documents. The people of New Hampshire, who are the rightful owners of the Mount Sunapee State Park, must be assured that our state park is in the hands worthy of the public’s trust,” said Steve Russell, the president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee.

Russell commented at the state-sponsored “public information session,” which attracted more than 100 people to the state park Tuesday evening.

Before the meeting, some people demonstrated their concerns about the state’s management of the park by holding signs that read: “Lease Violated,” “Mount Sunapee State Park, Endangered Species,” and “Where Is State Oversight?”

In attendance were state officials including Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Joseph Kenney, Commissioner Jeffrey Rose (Department of Natural and Cultural Resources), New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, Associate AG Anne Edwards, and representatives from Och-Ziff, who tried to allay public concerns about Och-Ziff’s corporate practices.

However, many members of the audience appeared skeptical and unconvinced by the state’s assertions and corporate promises and left with questions unanswered about why the Och-Ziff transaction occurred without appropriate financial review and what impact it will have on maintenance and development of the park.

“The New Hampshire attorney general’s assertion that this transaction is not within the purview of state oversight contradicts language in the original 1998 Lease Agreement,” said Russell.

“Examining risk and financial security is essential to maintaining the public trust. It is standard practice in all state contracts. This contract involving the future of Mount Sunapee State Park is no exception,” he added.

The ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park now takes in 1035 acres of public land, forested and developed land in Newbury and Goshen.

Read related articles:
Questions Raised About Sunapee Resort Ownership – Associated Press via the Valley News, August 24, 2017) —
http://www.vnews.com/Questions-Raised-About-Sunapee-Resort-Ownership-12040817

State officials, hedge fund address public concerns around Mount Sunapee lease – NHPR, August 23, 2017 —
http://nhpr.org/post/state-officials-hedge-fund-address-public-concerns-around-mount-sunapee-lease#stream/0

Latest News via FOMS —
https://www.friendsofmountsunapee.org/public-citizen-warns-state-about-oversight-of-och-ziff-at-mount-sunapee/

Copyright 2018 Friends of Mount Sunapee