Wild Goose Boat Launch Controversy Continues
As noted in recent Concord and Boston publications, there has been a long dispute about the current NH Fish and Game (F&G) proposal to construct a 2 acre boat launch and parking lot on the 3 acre Wild Goose property on Lake Sunapee, Newbury. It is true that the Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) and the Town of Newbury both oppose Fish & Game’s proposal.
In 1990, the Wild Goose property was purchased with funds from the Land Conservation Investment Program (LCIP). The LSPA and the Town supported and were instrumental in helping the LCIP acquire the property. The LCIP staff and board members requested that the LSPA pay for an appraisal to “help out in the effort to protect the land” for “long term conservation purposes.”
LSPA spent $10,000 – a lot of money for 1989 – to pay for an appraisal that was needed to value the land in light of bank foreclosures, permit revocations and changes to the Town’s zoning ordinance. This was done based on LCIP representation– and the promise in the law – that the land would be permanently protected. The LCIP Board of Directors and the Governor and Council all understood that promise when they voted to approve the acquisition based on an application that stated that the Wild Goose property would remain “as natural as possible” and that “no use of paving is necessary.”
Since LCIP acquired the land, the Town and LSPA have supported proposals that would provide access for canoes, kayaks and small fishing boats, consistent with intent of the original acquisition. Unfortunately, F&G has overlooked the advice of State and local officials, as well as its own consultants, who have expressed significant concerns about the proposed project. A NHDOT engineer responsible for reviewing the project described it as a “great site with terrible access.”
In short, the proposed project is a big urban ramp and parking lot, complete with 24/7 lighting, built on a small lot, contrary to the concept of conservation, the law and environmental principles. It also disregards water quality, construction details and road access safety. We believe that Fish & Game’s proposal violates RSA 162-C and the deed which created a trust for the benefit of the LSPA and the public. Recently, the Superior Court of NH agreed that the project is a Class 3, limited access highway and as such the Council on Resources and Development (CORD) cannot approve such a project.
We are frustrated as another state boat ramp sits somewhat neglected about a mile up-lake, still servicing many boats each year, while F&G is planning to spend over $1.5 MM on 35-40 parking spaces in a poor location, which the town does not want and will cause damage to the lake.
Lake Hosts this summer greeted over 3,500 boats at Sunapee’s five current boat ramps. And this was on a part-time basis. Some ramps are small, some are large; but all require tending relative to invasive species. While the public can use all free of charge, there is a local yearly cost for invasive species education and manning the ramps.
LSPA embraces ecological recreation on all NH lakes, including Lake Sunapee. What we do not appreciate are projects that are irresponsibly proposed, in defiance of the law and rational, conservation-minded land use.
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