The State is under no obligation to grant Mount Sunapee expansion

OkemoProposalThe State of N.H. is under no obligation to grant approval to the current expansion proposal at Mount Sunapee. When the State granted Okemo the operating lease to the ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park, “future planning and improvements” were discussed in terms of being “made in peripheral areas surrounding the current lifts, trails and base area facilities.”

Ski area expansion, as now proposed by Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort, will breach the state park boundary and enable resort-real estate development on hundreds of acres privately owned by the resort operator in Goshen. Expansion beyond the lease area and outside the park was not part of the contract and, if approved, will be precedent setting for N.H. state parks.

No obligation to expand

“The New Hampshire Supreme Court itself weighed in, after years of legal wrangling, when it ruled in 2013 that the State was under no legal obligation under the 1998 lease to allow any expansion of the ski enterprise or the leased area,” wrote Will Abbott in the current issue of Forest Notes (Winter 2015).

“The lawsuit leading to the court’s decision was filed by the Muellers in 2007, and it sought more than $13 million in damages from the State because then Gov. John Lynch refused to allow any agreement expanding the original lease to be brought before the Executive Council. In its ruling, the court dismissed the damage claim, on grounds that there was no state obligation to expand the lease and that it was the Governor’s constitutional prerogative to decide against bringing a proposed lease expansion to the council from the State’s Department of Resources and Economic Development (which is the state agency where the Division of Parks & Recreations is situated).”

Download Forest Notes, Winter 2015, via:

Read Okemo’s original proposal to the State via a download available here:

Okemo Proposal for the Operation of the Mount Sunapee Ski Area –  1998 April (pdf 2.2MB)

Related documents are available via FOMS State Park Policies & Management page

Additional Note: The Division of  Forest and Lands recently confirmed “exemplary natural communities” in the proposed expansion area in the state park. The proposal’s new trials, snow-making, and major lift, as now planned, will cut through and destroy this exemplary forest. This will violate state law.

Now is no time to be silent.

Add your voice to protect Mount Sunapee State Park and its essential public values and to preserve its rare forest (“exemplary natural communities”), as defined by New Hampshire Forests and Lands and protected by N.H. law.

Contact the decision makers.

Governor Maggie Hassan

State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Phone – (603) 271-2121
Fax – (603) 271-7640
Contact Governor Hassan:

Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, Department of Resources and Economic Development 

172 Pembroke Road
P.O. Box 1856
Concord, NH 03302-1856

Copyright 2019 Friends of Mount Sunapee