Archive | Recreation

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

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.

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

“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 advisory committee to review annual plan for ski area on May 31

“What is being planned for winter and summer programs for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park? The operator Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort will discuss its Annual Operating Plan (AOP) 2017-2018 with the state’s Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee on Wed., May 31, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. at the Newbury Town Offices, Route 103. The meeting is open to the public. The resort will discuss operations and projects planned for the coming year, according to the agenda. A hiking trail update is expected, as well.

View/download the agenda here: MSAC-Agenda5-31 (pdf 24kb)

View/download the AOP here: MSR-AOP-2017-2018 (pdf 6MB)

Read related post…

Protection of the public hiking trails at Mount Sunapee State Park, including the woodland Summit Trail, is a priority for FOMS.

In March 2016, Commissioner Rose (Department of Resources and Economic Development) agreed and said, “maintaining four season hiking on the Summit Trail is a priority. To codify this commitment, DRED, Mount Sunapee Resort and the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition (SRKGC) will enter into a Cooperative Maintenance Agreement, which will protect and maintain the designated trails within the leased boundary. In addition to protecting and maintaining the safety and stewardship of the trails, Mount Sunapee Resort will provide annual spring maintenance on the Summit Trail.”

As of this posting, DRED has not provided FOMS a status report on the Cooperative Maintenance Agreement. FOMS volunteers continue to follow up with DRED, and we’ll post the agreement when made available.


Mt. Sunapee ski area plans no major capital projects for 2017

Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort has submitted to the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for 2017-2018 for the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park. The operator has “no major capital projects planned” for the spring and summer of 2017.

Download/view the 2017-2018 operating plan here: MSR-AOP-2017-2018-Final (pdf 6.7MB).

At a meeting of the Mount Sunapee (Ski Area) Advisory Committee on May 31, 2017, we expect that the resort operator will give a review of 2016-2017 and then discuss the recently released AOP and plans for the year ahead.

The AOP describes winter and summer activities and includes the resort’s proposal for a new summer activity for the park: a “3-D Archery Course” with “12-15 animal targets located in a secluded and separated area of the South Peak Adventure Park.” Few other details are provided.

See FOMS State Park Management and Policies page for official documents related to management of the ski area including prior operating plans.

Related FOMS post: Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee to meet May 31

Updated May 23, 2017


Going camping this summer? Get your free NH Camping Guide

Going camping this summer?

Experienced campers know that New Hampshire is prime camping country. The Granite State is known for spectacular vistas, serene woodland settings, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and nothing gets you closer to these scenic wonders than camping.

Under the stars, nestled in a tent or parked at the junction of civilization and nature camping is the jumping off point to a vacationer’s smorgasbord of rest, relaxation, and adventure.

For some, camping is the main event; for others, camping is a starting point. New Hampshire offers campers a huge variety in terms of campgrounds and vacation activities. A free New Hampshire Camping Guide, published by the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa), is available in hard copy or electronic version.

A free New Hampshire Camping Guide, published by the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa), is available in hard copy or electronic version. Visit for more information.

For campgrounds at N.H. state parks, visit:

For the Mount Sunapee State Park campground, visit:

Photos courtesy of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association.

Mount Sunapee committee to discuss annual plan on June 23

In April (2016) Governor Hassan and the N.H. Executive Council approved a lease amendment that allows resort expansion and development of a West Bowl ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park.

Citing legal and public policy concerns, the Friends of Mount Sunapee continues to strongly oppose private resort and ski area expansion at the state park.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 9.19.00 AMNo “West Bowl” projects are contained in the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) recently submitted by Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort to N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development.  The AOP for 2016-2017 and update on hiking trails will be discussed at a meeting of the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee on June 23rd. FOMS encourages the public to attend.

Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee Meeting
When: Thursday, June 23 (2016) at 10 a.m.
Where: Newbury Town Offices, Route 103 – Large Conference Room
View the agenda: MSAC-6-23-16-Agenda (pdf)

Read the Annual Operating Plan 2016-2017 (pdf 7.7MB)

The AOP for the coming year says “no major capital projects” are planned; all projects “are maintenance projects.” Adding a mountain bike trail to the “Adventure Park” is anticipated.

The AOP references numerous DRED approved improvements not yet completed. These projects include improvements within the current leasehold area to ski trails, lifts, buildings, snow-making and infrastructure.

AOP reports sharp decline in 2015-16 skier visits

Last season’s so-called “no-snow winter” and record breaking warm temperatures in the Northeast melted away snow-making budgets and shortened the ski season by weeks.

FOMS analyses of Mount Sunapee Resort skier visits (1998-2016). Skier visits and the number open days are listed in the Annual Operating Plan (page 12).

FOMS analyses of Mount Sunapee Resort skier visits (1998-2016). Skier visits and the number open days are reported in the Annual Operating Plan (page 12).

The ski area at Mount Sunapee closed for the season on March 27th and the resort reported 179,000 skier visits, a 30% decline from the prior season. Ski days numbered 113 last winter vs. 143 open days in 2014-2015.

The AOP provided no revenue figures and did not reveal visitation numbers for non-skiing activities. The resort promotes a “summer activities” program and operates the lodges and facilities within the leasehold area year round for a variety of special functions, which now include rental of lodge space and facilities for private use.

The AOP, once again, recycles grossly outdated information pointing to 1998 wildlife habitat mapping and omits critical studies that document ecologically valuable resources at the state park and within and surrounding the ski area.

The state’s oversight policy for the ski area requires (submission to DRED and the Town of Newbury) an annual operating plan, which is due each year by May 15th. The plan is normally presented at a public meeting in late May or early June. This year, the plan will be presented and discussed with the Advisory Committee only seven days before the June 30th due date for DRED’s written response.

Read the Public Involvement and Oversight Policy 1998 (pdf)

FOMS encourages public participation and openness in all policy-making processes that determine the future of our state park and our region.

Andrew Brook Trailhead Update

A popular destination in winter as well as warmer seasons, Lake Solitude is the reward of a two-mile ascent up the Andrew Brook Trail. Access to the trail is now protected by the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests. Photo by John Welch/

A popular destination in winter as well as warmer seasons, Lake Solitude is the reward of a two-mile ascent up the Andrew Brook Trail. Access to the trail is now protected by the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests. Photo by John Welch/

Members of the hiking community around Mount Sunapee put their enthusiasm for a popular trail to Lake Solitude to work and quickly helped the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) raise funds to conserve the property where the trail begins.

The Forest Society purchased the 33-acre trailhead property, off Mountain Road in Newbury, in order to protect access to the Andrew Brook Trail, said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.

“So many people who love this trail assumed that the trailhead was part of  Mount Sunapee State Park, but in fact it was privately owned and therefore vulnerable when it came up for sale,” Difley said. “Now that the Forest Society owns it, public access is protected, and we want to thank the fans of this trail for helping to secure it.”

The Andrew Brook Trail is a 2-mile ascent up Andrew Brook on the eastern side of Mt. Sunapee to Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then meets up with other trails leading to the scenic White Ledges area and to Mount  Sunapee’s peak. Read more…


Copyright 2018 Friends of Mount Sunapee