Letter: Preserve diversity of use at Mount Sunapee

Mt. Sunapee State Park – “A Place for All People for All Time”

By Steve from Newbury, N.H.

On Aug. 26 Mt. Sunapee Resorts unveiled their proposal for the 2015-2019 Master Develop Plan as required by the state of NH. The main feature of the plan was the proposed ski expansion area on the west side of Mt. Sunapee.

Under this plan(known as the “west bowl expansion”) roughly two thirds of the area of the proposed ski runs would be on private property owned by the Muellers who are (the current sub- lessee to CNL who holds the lease on the State Park) . In addition an adjacent property also owned by the Muellers is zoned for housing units. It is unclear whether the general public would have access in this privately owned section outside the park.

This singular focus on the expansion of skiing is not consistent with the Vision & Mission statement of the New Hampshire State Park System which states “To protect and preserve unusual scenic ,scientific, historical, recreational, and natural areas of the state.” It is after all Mt. Sunapee State Park.

Passive non-commercial uses of the park(hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing) are disappearing replaced by more skiing, zip lines, a proposed” mountain coaster” and so on thus changing the character of the park more along the lines of a theme park. This is hardly the vision of the original donors of the land to the state whose wish it was to save it for its natural beauty “for all people for all time.”

The “unusual scenic beauty and natural areas of the park” would be forever scarred with ski runs. The proposed area for the “west bowl” expansion is currently in an undeveloped natural state.

The installation of more ski infrastructure is the most invasive environmental activity that could take place on the Mt. Because of the scale of such activity it makes other uses of the park difficult if not impossible. Expanding the ski area(because of the scale and impact on the environment) to the west side of the mountain would subordinate all other uses of the park to the singular activity of skiing.

Thus the Mt. Sunapee Master Development Plan proposals as put forward by Mt. Sunapee Resorts would disregard three crucial elements of the State Park mission statement which are essential for maintaining the integrity of the park.

  1. “the preservation of unusual scenic beauty”
  2. access to the general public
  3. diversity of use

The expansion sought by the resort is not necessary . The existing ski facilities have proven to be successful . Thus the economic component of the states mission has been fulfilled. The Master Development Plan has currently within it improvements to existing facilities as well as approved new ski runs within the existing lease hold boundary.

At this point in time it is still possible to preserve the diversity of use in Mt. Sunapee State Park. It is still possible to preserve those pristine parts of the mountain. In short it is still possible to maintain a balance of uses which is consistent with the State Park System without the proposed “west bowl expansion” of the Mt. Sunapee Master Development Plan.

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