President/Forester Jane Difley releases Statement regarding Mt. Sunapee lease boundary expansion
May 3, 2005
We acknowledge Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Sean O’Kane for his diligence in assessing the proposed lease expansion on Mount Sunapee, but we must also disagree with his recommendation that the expansion should go forward. We commend Governor John Lynch for standing firm in his principled opposition to the lease expansion.
In our judgment, Mount Sunapee State Park is foremost a public conservation and recreational resource, and the lease expansion proposed by Mount Sunapee Resort (MSR) should be judged on whether it primarily benefits this fundamental public purpose of the park.
We feel that the result of the proposed lease expansion will chiefly be to enhance the profitability of a private enterprise. Any incremental additional public benefit through further enhancement of the skiing experience is outweighed by the negative impacts on other existing public interests in Mount Sunapee State Park, and to the communities in the Sunapee region.
The public benefit in leasing the existing Mount Sunapee Ski Area over five years ago to a private company was predicated on the anticipated improvements to the quality of skiing and outdoor recreation that would result. We did not oppose the lease at the time, and commend the work MSR has done to improve the quality of skiing and the recreational experience within the existing Mount Sunapee Ski Area boundary. In our judgment, the public benefit intended by the original lease has been met.
The Forest Society led fundraising campaigns early in the 20th century to acquire large tracts of conservation land on Mount Sunapee, totaling over 1,600 acres, eventually transferred as a gift in 1948 to the people of New Hampshire to form the core of Mount Sunapee State Park. We have a truly vested interest in the stewardship of this premier state park.”
Society for the Protection of NH Forests