The elephant in the room regarding Mt. Sunapee expansion plan

Intertown Record 12/9/2014

Dear Editor,

Everyone who is interested in the future of snow and climate change needs to read the book called The Deep by Porter Fox. It gave me more reason to oppose the Mt. Sunapee expansion. Consider these statements from the book:

  • A Boston Globe article published after Hurricane Sandy state that one third of the northeast’s 108 ski areas would have to close over the next 30 years because it simply would be too warm to make snow.
  • The European Alps have lost 50% of glacier volume since 1850, 25% of that since 1970 alone. Melting glaciers are “the canary in the coal mine” of global warming.
  • Two thirds of the 566 ski areas in Europe will have to close by mid-century.
  • European banks and insurance companies are distancing themselves from low lying ski areas in the alps so many are having a hard time financing making snow. Davos, Switzerland, requested that the town chip in for snowmaking citing a drop off in winter visitors if the slopes aren’t covered.
  • European ski areas have subsequently been forced to toe the line between preparing for future and scaring off guests and investors.
  • Two Swiss ski resorts hired consultants to analyze melting permafrost in peaks. When the firm found that indeed the permafrost was melting and might fall apart, taking down lifts, buildings and possibly skiers, the resort ordered the study dropped and the results were buried.
  • European resorts are wrapping their peaks in plastic to prevent slabs from falling off.

So, what does this have to do with Mt. Sunapee? People in the ski resort business are savvy to climate change. One of the areas hardest to keep snow on would be the west flank of Mt. Sunapee with its high angle of sun exposure. Why would they want to build lifts and trails there if they stand a likely chance of being unviable within 30 years?

I know the ski resort people are smart and need to serve their investors. Perhaps by getting the expansion plan OK’d by the state it will raise the land values of the private land in Goshen bought by several different LLC companies, all owned by resort management. Mt. Sunapee resort still has around 30 projects left to do from their previous master plan. What makes us think that they will get around to competing this one? Perhaps they just want to divest themselves of the property in Goshen at highest value? Just a thought.

It just would be a shame to rip apart that west flank with all of its heritage forest and then have the lifts and trails be unusable within a little more than a generation. There are many unanswered questions surrounding the expansion plan and if you want to know more, please visit the Friends of Mount Sunapee website.

Deb in Newbury


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