After nearly seven months of deliberation, the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) will reveal its draft response to the Sunapee ski area expansion before a public audience on Thursday morning in Newbury.
Many essential public assets are at stake, including “the most significant forest of its kind in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains.”
Learn more about the threats and challenges facing Mount Sunapee State Park- and how you can help.
Please attend in person on Thursday.
Mount Sunapee Ski Area Advisory Committee Meeting
Thursday, April 16th at 10AM
At the Newbury Veteran’s Hall (across from Newbury Town Offices), Rte. 103
Some important background information is included below:
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 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 west into Goshen, where Okemo/MSR own over 600 acres that abut the park.
In January 2015, DRED released a report by its own scientists that declared much of the land at the top of the mountain as an exemplary natural community, a rare and valuable natural area protected by NH law against any state-enabled encroachment or impact.
The proposed “West Bowl” expansion cuts right through this protected area, part of Mount Sunapee’s remarkable natural heritage — “the most significant forest of its kind in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains.”
The threat to state and other protected lands
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 Highlands.
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.