Letter: Resort’s 2014 environmental plan flawed

Mount Sunapee Resort’s Environmental Management Plan is flawed

By Gary Stansfield

The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) dated June 1, 2014, as submitted by the Mount Sunapee Resort (MSR) to the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) as part of their 2015-2019 Master Development Plan is flawed and misleading.

The EMP cites a May 2004 field study conducted by W. D. Countryman & Associates, and states that the study “did not find any areas of old growth forest or areas with ‘old growth characteristics.’” This may be accurate, but it is important to understand that it is likely that this study did not survey the lease expansion area, the very area of Mount Sunapee State Park that is the focus of the so-called West Bowl Expansion.

It is equally important to note that a Sept. 2004 survey of the West Bowl lease expansion area by NH Natural Heritage Bureau (NHB) did find areas of old growth forest that were deemed to be of statewide significance. MSR omitted this crucial information when submitting the 2014 EMP.

Additionally, the 2014 EMP states that, according to the 2004 Countryman study “field investigators found no evidence of tree scaring (sic) by bears.” Yet, a casual survey of state park lands within the West Bowl in October 2014 by Friends of Mount Sunapee (FOMS) volunteers found abundant evidence of bear scarred trees.

Finally, the Countryman report failed to include maps or any specific indication of the parcels surveyed, or the area encompassed by the self-described “wander search.” The report is neither signed nor stamped, and since Mr. Countryman passed away in 2005, it is difficult to determine who conducted the study or authored the report.

It is clear that an up to date and thorough environmental study of the entire proposed expansion area, by a competent third party, needs to be completed before serious consideration can be given to any expansion plans.

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