May 11, 2015
Dear Commissioner Rose:
At the recent Public hearing at Mt. Sunapee Lodge on May 5th, which I attended, I heard speakers in favor of the West Bowl expansion speak of the balance between conservation and development that would take place.The false assumption they have made in such a claim is the equivalency they would seek to establish between woods, meaning a stand of trees, and Forest.
Most people don’t understand the difference. You can find a woods between clover leaf on-ramps and the Interstate they feed. You can find woods between one acre house lots. A forest, on the other hand, is a unique neighborhood of plants and animals, which has developed over long stretches of time, and, in order to thrive, needs a 200-300 foot buffer between itself and human development on the scale of ski trails, lifts, parking, lodges, roads and the other construction and disruption that inevitably comes with a ski resort. Such a buffer creates the light, moisture, wind and temperature conditions within a Forest that it requires and which human development destroys. With the kind of expansion proposed by the would-be developers of the West Bowl, there are very few buffers of this size still extant. The result? Woods, yes. But less than 15% of the existing Forest left. That greatly diminished amount would be scattered among several non-communicating islands of forest whose ability to sustain themselves would be drastically reduced due to this lack of contiguity.
So, in fact, there is very minimal conservation here due to the over 85% loss of forest and the decreased ability of what’s left to survive. And there is certainly no balance at all since none of the lost forest can be restored anywhere else. Saying that there is conservation and balance is a slogan, not a reality. The reality is the destruction of specific forest wilderness which we will not see again.
I urge DRED to intensely study and seek out other ways to stimulate NH’s economy than by a wholesale destruction of an important NH natural resource.