Latest News


Monday June19th, 7pm THE FORGOTTEN FOREST PRIMEVAL: Rediscovering Mount Sunapee’s Old Growth
with Ray Asselin, the film’s director, and others involved with documenting the rare exemplary forest on Mount Sunapee.

At the Newbury Center Meeting House –  Rte 103, Newbury, NH 03255

Event is free and open to the public. This event is being sponsored by the Newbury Center Meeting House as part of their 2023 Speaker Series events and is in collaboration with the Newbury Public Library.


Mt. Sunapee Advisory Commission Meeting – June 8th, Newbury Town Offices at 10AM

The Annual Operating Plan for 2023-2024 submitted by Vail Resort will be reviewed at 10:00am, Thursday, June 8th, at the Town Office Building in Newbury, NH.  If you are able to attend, please do. You can review the AOP for 2023-24 on the website.

Link to info:

If unable, your comments can be sent to:

“Tango-Lowy, Torene” – and will be forwarded to the members and to Commissioner Stewart.


September 21-23, 2023

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The Film:“The Forgotten Forest Primeval – Rediscovering Mt Sunapee’s Old Growth” will be shown at the conference.  




We are announcing the release of a new film focused on Mount Sunapee’s Old Growth Forest.   

The Forgotten Forest Primeval Re-Discovering Mount Sunapee’s Old Growth highlighting the rare, exemplary forest on Mount Sunapee as well as the early history of its protection as Forest Society’s first reservation in 1911.

Mr. Asselin has produced numerous documentaries sometimes reaching audiences in excess of a million viewers.  This film features terrestrial ecologist Chris Kane who rediscovered Mount Sunapee’s Old Forest in 1997 as well as Dave Anderson Forest Society’s Senior Director of Education.


The Film “The Forgotten Forest Primeval – Rediscovering Mt. Sunapee’s Old Growth” will be shown and afterwards a question and answer and discussion with Steve Russell, President of Friends of Mount Sunapee. 

The film is part of a speaker series program sponsored by the Elkins Library and its Trustees.

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     Exploration and studies of Mycorrhizal Fungi (the micro network that exists beneath the forest floor) have enhanced our understanding of the interconnectedness of the visible forest. This is especially true of older forests. What we see in older forests is a wonder but there exists a whole universe beneath the visible forest that is both awe inspiring and essential to the health of forests such as the 484 acre exemplary forest at Mount Sunapee State Park. The realm of “wood wide web”  is the subject of a TED talk given by Suzanne Simard Suzanne Simard is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia. This aspect of Mount Sunapee’s exemplary forest has yet to be explored but is essential to obtain a clearer picture of how the forest functions.

National Group Joins FOMS Effort to Preserve Mount Sunapee State Park Forest


Summit Trail Mount Sunapee State Park


Good news! The effort to permanently protect Mount Sunapee’s 484 acre state documented exemplary forest just received an important endorsement from the Old Growth Forest Network. The Maryland based organization whose goal is, “to locate and designate at least one protected forest in every county in the United States that can sustain a native forest” recently penned a letter to the State urging permanent protection of Mount Sunapee’s Exemplary Natural Community System, the only forested system of its type that is exemplary in the State. (see attached letter)

OGFN joins NH Sierra Club in supporting FOMS initiative for the permanent protection of this irreplaceable NH treasure.



Date: March 23, 2021

To: Commissioner Stewart, DNCR and the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee

Dear Commissioner Stewart, DNCR and members of the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee,

The Old-Growth Forest Network identifies remaining old-growth forests throughout the nation and has been operating in the Northeast since 2012. We offer the following comments on the currently submitted 5 year Master Development/Environmental Management Plan by Vail Corporation.

Our comments specifically concern section VII Forestry Management, Part B, entitled Old Growth Forest, on page 16 of the Environmental Management Plan. The projects referenced in this section of the MDP/EMP would directly impact the Exemplary Forested system on Mount Sunapee.

As documented by the State of New Hampshire’s Natural Heritage Bureau, the 484 acre Exemplary Northern Hardwood Conifer System within the leased area of Mount Sunapee State Park is the only forested system of its type that is exemplary in the state of New Hampshire. Yet, it is not mentioned in this proposed 5 year MDP/EMP. Section VII, B, Paragraph 2 references a plan to build Lift J and associated ski trail within a portion of Polygon 23 outside of the area identified as having old-growth characteristics and maintaining a 200-foot natural wooded buffer. While this plan may sound like it sufficiently protects the old-growth forest within Polygon 23, it does not. Multiple state studies have been conducted on the Exemplary Natural Community System and the mature forest surrounding and sustaining it. Both the Division of Forests and Lands and the NH Natural Heritage Bureau have concluded that any development activities within Polygon 23 would have a detrimental effect on Mount Sunapee’s old forest.

Not mentioned in Section VII, B is the planned Williamson and Porky’s trail widening, which would directly affect two areas containing old-growth forest, specifically the East Bowl of the Exemplary Natural Community System and Polygon 20.

Section VII, B, Paragraphs 3 and 4 state the Resort’s intention to expand within the West Bowl in order to avoid the East Bowl old-growth forest. While this may sound like a protective measure, the MDP/EMP fails to reference the NH National Heritage Bureau’s official findings that the proposed expansion area, Polygon D is considered statewide significant (a) because it appears to never have been logged, (b) because it contains rare, old examples of this natural community type, (c) because Polygon D is part of a larger mosaic of this old forest type on Mount Sunapee, and (d) because it is contiguous, forming the northern extent of the large forest block to the south. Instead of reporting the official NH National Heritage Bureau’s findings, Vail Corporation reported the unofficial conclusions of W.D. Countryman, commissioned by the Resort, which “did not find any areas of old-growth forest or areas with ‘old-growth characteristics’ within the West Bowl expansion area.

The Old-Growth Forest Network feels that the information contained in this MDP/EMP is both incomplete and misleading. We strongly recommend that the findings of the official state studies be included in place of the non-official reports commissioned by the Resort. We also strongly recommend that Mount Sunapee’s unique Exemplary Natural Community System be acknowledged here as the treasure it is. This information is critical to NH citizens’ understanding of the magnitude of what would be lost if Mount Sunapee’s Exemplary Natural Community System were endangered by Resort expansion.


Mount Sunapee’s state designated Exemplary Natural Community System is irreplaceable as it includes old forest representing the last remnants of original forest in the State of New Hampshire. It is the only forested system of its type designated as exemplary by the state representing the best remaining examples of New Hampshire’s biodiversity. Mount Sunapee’s exemplary forest is extremely rare, containing as much as 10% of all the known old forest in New Hampshire with trees documented at 350 yrs. Additionally, it provides exceptional wildlife habitat, attractive hiking trails, and a connection to area history.

The national Old-Growth Forest Network respectfully requests that:

1) Detailed information from the official, state-sponsored reports be cited in this EMP,

2) All previously approved projects impacting Mount Sunapee’s Exemplary Natural Community

System be withdrawn from consideration and

3) Mount Sunapee’s forested area be granted formal, permanent protective status.


Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sarah Horsley

Network Manager, Old-Growth Forest Network


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
Sarah L. Stewart, Commissioner

What defines old growth in New Hampshire?

Friends of Mount Sunapee photo: In Mount Sunapee State Park, where an exemplary natural community system encompasses a rare old forest.

Old trees, large trees, structural diversity, snags, coarse woody debris, pit and mound topography, nurse logs, canopy gaps, broken-topped trees, mosses, lichens, and lack of human disturbance—these are characteristics of an old-growth forest in the Granite State. See “Finding Old-Growth Forests in New Hampshire,” an article by David Govatski, published by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

As a forester and naturalist, I have had a life-long interest in forests. I have been fortunate to have been able to visit many old-growth forests throughout the United States. I have long recognized the need to preserve these old forests for many reasons. The scientific value of old-growth forests is well known, and several research forests have been created to study the dynamics of these original forests. There are many other reasons to protect old-growth forests, including preserving spiritual, cultural, historical, and biological values.

… People sometimes expect walking in an old-growth forest is like walking in a cathedral of big and tall trees. Sometimes it can feel that way, especially in some of our hemlock and white pine forests. But more often, you will find a chaotic scene of downed trees, areas of thick undergrowth, and trees of varying sizes. Walking off-trail can be difficult. Once a person learns to value old-growth forests, he or she will appreciate the aesthetics of the forest’s complexity. – David Govatski,  Finding Old-Growth Forests in New Hampshire (via UNH-UC)

When it comes to the protection of old forests, Govatski feels we should aim for 10% of our forest land being old growth.

“In addition to identifying opportunities to protect existing or future old-growth on private land, we should encourage local, state, and federal agencies to identify, designate, and protect such forests on public lands,” wrote Govatski. “Ideally, we should have at least one old-growth forest designated in each of our ten counties.”

For information about the old forest on Mount Sunapee, see Natural Heritage and Ancient Forests (FOMS).

Voices & Views

2021 Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Join the New Hampshire Rivers Council and enjoy one of the largest environmental film festivals on your own screen, starting on Friday, March 26, 2021, at 6:30 pm.

The Council brings you the 2021 Wild & Scenic Film Festival with live-streaming and video-on-demand for five days, March 26 – March 30. This is the Council’s eleventh year hosting the festival. For tickets, go to

For the Festival’s “On Tour” calendar, go to

The New Hampshire Rivers Council is the only statewide organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of New Hampshire’s river resources. The Council is committed to the conservation and ecologically sound management of New Hampshire’s rivers, watersheds, and related natural resources.  

Voices & Views


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
Sarah L. Stewart, Commissioner


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

Mount Sunapee Resort five-year plans now online

At Mount Sunapee State Park, looking across the parking lot toward the Spruce Lodge at the base of the mountain. Vail Resorts is the current lessee and operator of the state-owned ski area. FOMS photo, May 2020.

Mount Sunapee Resort’s five-year Master Development Plan (MDP) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) 2020-2025 are now available online. The plans, submitted to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) by Vail Resorts, are subject to a public hearing and public comment:

Or view the plans via the NH Parks’ website.

Submit comments to Mount Sunapee Comments, Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, 172 Pembroke Road, Concord, NH  03301, or email

Please contact the Friends of Mount Sunapee if you can help us review these plans as we prepare for a public hearing. We encourage citizen involvement in the public policy-making opportunities for Mount Sunapee State Park, including the master development planning process for the ski area.

Additional information

DNCR and the division of Parks and Recreation are responsible for managing Mount Sunapee State Park and overseeing the ski area lease, which encompasses approximately 1100 acres of public conservation land.

The agency’s Involvement and Oversight Policy requires the ski area operator to submit master development and environmental management plans every five years.

In considering these plans, DNCR shall hold at least one public hearing in conjunction with the regional planning commission, according to the public involvement policy.

At the June 9 telemeeting of the Mount Sunapee Advisory Commission, DNCR Commissioner Sarah Stewart said a hearing date had not been set.

For related information see the FOMS resource pages: Mount Sunapee State Park management and policies and Mount Sunapee’s natural heritage and ancient forests.

Where to view the plans?

“The plans are available for public review at the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, 172 Pembroke Road, Concord, N.H., as well as in the Towns of Newbury, Goshen, New London, Sunapee, Newport, Bradford, Sutton, and at the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission,” according to NH State Parks.

However, as of this posting, FOMS is unable to confirm the local availability of the plans. We will update this post when more information is known.


Old-Growth Forest Network: The Healthiest Forest

Created by the Old-Growth Forest Network, this film “takes you on a 4-minute journey that represents 300 years in the life of a forest. See how structure and biodiversity recover naturally, and how continued management like thinning and harvesting interferes with recovery.”

Related news articles

OGFN related articles

About the old forest in Mount Sunapee State Park (FOMS resource page)

Voices & Views

Mount Sunapee Resort five-year plans 2020-2025, June 2020

Mount Sunapee Resort Five-Year Master Development Plan (MDP) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) 2020-2025, June 2020

‘Time for a climb’ from New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Is it time for a climb and new discoveries? The delicate spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) welcomes forest hikers in New Hampshire, April through June. Friends of Mount Sunapee photo.

It’s Time For a Climb: New Hampshire Garden Solutions takes you along on a recent outing on Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, N.H., and the discoveries made by taking the same trails again and again.

John Burroughs said “To find new things, take the path you took yesterday” and of course he was right. I thought of him last year when I found spring beauties I had been walking by for years and then I thought of him again on this day, when I found sessile leaved bellwort growing right beside the trail I’ve hiked so many times. I’m always amazed by how much I miss, and that’s why I walk the same trails again and again. It’s the only way to truly know a place.

See New Hampshire Garden Solutions, Exploring Nature in New Hampshire.

Voices & Views

The Hobblebush

When heading out for a springtime hike or forest walk, be sure to look for the showy flowers of the hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides). The hobblebush is a shade loving deciduous shrub with sprawling branches, which will root if they touch the ground. The photo above, taken while hiking at Mount Sunapee State Park, shows the flat-topped clusters of white flowers of the hobblebush.

Voices & Views shares The Nature of Phenology, Episode 123, Hobblebush

Large clusters of hobblebush flowers can be found now. Not only do hobblebush flowers trick pollinators into landing on them, but the plants really do trip walking animals and careless hikers more than your average shrub—hence the name hobblebush.

And via, enjoy The Humble (yet Devilish) Hobblebush and Hobblebush, Viburnum lantanoides 

Online references

Voices & Views

Copyright © 2020 Friends of Mount Sunapee