To The Daily Sun,
Two current news items caught my eye tonight: Gunstock’s record breaking profit article in The Daily Sun and the Forecasting the Future program on Climate Change show on WMUR-TV.
First I want to say that when local weather forecasters all over the country say the weather is changing for the worse — drought, fire, tornados, hurricanes and floods — then you have to believe that climate change is real and is human caused. All the studies are saying change is worsening and accelerating.
Likewise, ski areas have significant impacts on our climate in terms of energy use, tree removal, and disrupting animal habitats. In addition, reliance on resorts — summer and winter — has brought a host of environmental issues. Second homes and short term rentals are negatively impacting affordable housing options.
The Gunstock expansion goal is to further expand full-time use of our county land further impacting the environment. In fact, the plan calls for additional lifts and roads up Gunstock potentially bringing greater impacts. Sadly, these impacts will be felt on the entire Belknap Range. Those impacts will include degrading trails, wildlife, ecology and watersheds.
Before a dime is spent on Gunstock expansion, they should contract with a third-party environmental planning group to study the current impact and projected impact not only on the Gunstock Resort basin but the whole Belknap Range because it impacts us all.
Perhaps they should also study the “higher and best” use of their land into the on-rushing future of climate change. If Gunstock doesn’t feel they need to do it, then the Commissioners have something useful to do with their time and money.
I have skied and hiked the Belknap Range for the last 75 years. We need to plan for the next 75 and beyond.