Forest Society Applauds Governor for Vigilant Stance on Mount Sunapee

Public Parks are held in public trust for public use and enjoyment

October 28, 2007

CONCORD, NH--The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests commends Gov. John Lynch for his defense of the existing Mount Sunapee Ski Area lease in the face of a lawsuit by the lessees, Tim and Diane Mueller.

“The Forest Society believes that Gov. Lynch is right to reject the expansion proposal,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “The Governor’s steadfast protection of the public lands at Mount Sunapee State Park is exactly the stewardship the Forest Society anticipated from the State of New Hampshire when we deeded much of the land making up Sunapee State Park to the state in 1948,” Difley said.

“The Forest Society opposes any expansion of the ski lease area,” Difley said, “though we are not opposed to potential improvements to the existing ski operations within the lease area. When the state entered into the original lease, the lease never contemplated leasing public lands for private rights of access from the ski area to new ski-in residential developments,” Difley explained. “There is nothing in the current lease agreement that obligates the state in any way to consider such an expansion today.”

“We at the Forest Society believe strongly that public lands are held in public trust for public use and enjoyment,” Difley said.

“It is at best unfortunate that the Muellers have chosen to sue the State of Hampshire rather than abide by the terms of the lease they signed,” said Jack Savage, Vice President for Communications at the Forest Society. “The lawsuit appears to be little more than an inventive attempt to expand the concept of the lease in order to increase the value of personal real estate adjacent the state park.”

“The lawsuit seems far-fetched,” added Savage. “The notion that the existence of a process for potential amendment of the lease somehow guarantees a right to expansion requires a big leap. And the purpose of the proposed boundary expansion would seem to be unrelated to the operation of the ski area and beyond the intent of the agreed-upon lease.”

For more than 100 years, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, thanks to the dedication and generosity of its members statewide, has worked to foster the wise use our natural resources while protection places of special scenic beauty. Its first outright purchase of land occurred in 1911, when the Forest Society bought 638 acres on Mount Sunapee. It then acquired additional land on Sunapee over the next two decades. In 1948-49, the Forest Society gave those lands to the State of New Hampshire for the establishment of Sunapee State Park, envisioning permanent public benefit of wildlife habitat, water quality, and public recreation—including the operation of a ski area.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests was founded in 1901 to protect the state’s most important landscapes and promote the wise use of its renewable natural resources. Today, the Forest Society is made up of more than 10,000 member households and owns 154 reservations that encompass over 43,000 acres in communities across the state. In addition, the Forest Society holds more than 550 conservation easements on an additional 100,000 acres, and conducts ongoing programs in research, advocacy, land protection, education, land management and sustainable forestry.