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Patricia "Ricia" McMahon
State Representative, District 3

*Updated May 5, 2009

April 30, 2009

Representative McMahon is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration Committee, and represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton.



Public hearing May 13, 7 pm

NH DES Wetlands Bureau will hold a public hearing on the Fish & Game proposal May 13, 7 pm, at the Sherburne Gym, 561 Rte. 11 in Sunapee (map). Everyone interested in this issue should attend.

The Wild Goose Double Trailered Boat Launch Project was a topic of discussion at a recent meeting of the Governor and Executive Council in Concord.

  • Fish and Game (F&G) has updated/expanded plans to create a double-trailered boat launch at the three-acre Wild Goose site on Birch Grove Road off Route 103 in Newbury.

  • The cost now is estimated to be $1.2 million.

  • Dec. 17, 2008 - F&G applied for a Shoreland Permit which was granted by the Department of Environmental Services (DES) with uncustomary speed on Jan. 7, 2009.

  • F&G also applied for an Alteration Of Terrain (AOT) permit which was granted by DES on Apr. 16, 2009.

  • A Wetlands Permit is in consideration and a public hearing is expected to be held in the Newbury area, presumably in May.

According to minutes of the Fish & Game Commission Meeting, Mar. 18, Director Normandeau reported that Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) is making their wishes known regarding the potential ramp at Wild Goose, and that the approved shoreland permit has been appealed. A public hearing should be scheduled in the near future regarding the wetlands permit, and a decision would be made by the Department of Environmental Services (DES). The final step would be for the Governor & Council to vote on the wetlands permit after all appeals have been exhausted.

This video by is of the Apr. 15 discussion and includes Executive Councilors Deb Pignatelli and John Shea, Governor John Lynch, NH Fish & Game Commissioner Glenn Normandeau, and Department of Environmental Services specialist Craig Rennie. It is not only interesting but critical for advocates for or against the boat ramp to watch and listen.

The Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) and the Town of Newbury appealed the Shoreland permit. Letters in opposition have been written to Fish & Game and to the Department of Environmental Services by several parties.

LSPA has noted deficiencies in the project:

1. Lack of demonstrated need. 

  • Lake Sunapee is the second most visited lake in the state (after Lake Winnepesaukee).

  • LSPA’s Lake Host Program checks thousands of boats yearly at the existing ramps.

  • The State Beach boat ramp, in some disrepair, cited in the DRED application for erosion control project is to “allow full use of the boat launch.” 

2. Inappropriate Site

  • The Wild Goose site is 3.3 acres, on a steep slope to an area of Lake Sunapee known for heavy winds.

  • A large parking area, lit from dawn to dusk, for 31 vehicles with trailers and 12 other vehicles will require clear cutting a forested area (red pine, white pine, and white birch).

  • The NH Public Access Plan has four categories of public water access facilities and notes that the number of access points is determined according to lake or pond acreage or shoreline. Sunapee has more than five access points which is the recommended number for its size.

  • The ramp project currently being submitted is a Type I, recommended for a site 15-30 acres in size. Wild Goose acreage/shoreline is for a walk-in facility or Type IV.

3. Unsafe Traffic patterns

  • Access to Wild Goose is via a small, Class V road, maintained by the Town of Newbury. There is not the substructure necessary to support the added loads.

  • Boaters pulling trailers enter onto and egress at a point on Rt. 103 where there is a minimum line of sight. Several serious accidents occur every year and there is increased 18-wheeled commercial traffic.

  • The speed is 50 mph there, but the actual median speed is 58 mph.

  • The plan creates one-way traffic. Southbound vehicles pulling trailers must drive northward for one mile, before reversing direction at the Mount Sunapee traffic circle. If a driver makes a U-turn onto 103 to avoid this extreme pattern, passengers and other drivers are at significant risk.

4. Violation of State Law

  • By its own admission, the Fish & Game plan to cut trees is in excess of the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act and is in violation of the ordinance of the Town of Newbury. These laws are to protect our lakes and streams, stabilize shorefront areas and to mitigate harmful runoff and nutrient loading. Fish & Game’s proposal also fails to comply with Newbury’s own more stringent Shoreline Protective Regulations.

5. Unfunded Mandates and Other Local Issues

  • Phosphorus loading and increased algae blooms are already observed in Lake Sunapee (as well as milfoil). LSPA, local citizens and municipalities want to reduce, not increase, these nagative impacts. 

  • The site as proposed will impose burdens on the Town of Newbury: patrol of the parking and launch areas, increased maintenance of Birch Grove Road and a need for first responders at accidents with possible hazardous substances.

  • DES has counseled LSPA to limit phosphorus loading in Lake Sunapee, an impaired lake and water supply. Estimates of the Lake Sunapee annual phosphorus intake is about 700 pounds, at current growth, it will increase 40% to 1 ton. Phosphorus loading and increased algae blooms is already observed in Lake Sunapee (as well as milfoil). LSPA, local citizens and municipalities want to reduce, not increase, these negative impacts.


An Alternative

Many significant objections exist to the current proposed Fish & Game plan: environmental impact, safety, non-compliance, and both budgetary and quality of life costs borne by Newbury taxpayers. 

An opportunity to provide lake access to address most of these concerns would serve the public good for anglers and visitors. Historically, Fish and Game’s leadership saw an alternative for the Wild Goose site to be used as a car-top launch site, with facilities to swim, picnic and fish from the shoreland. 

A design to also meet the shoreland protection rules can be an environmental model. The net result would be a facility in which everyone can take pride, and an example of Fish and Game as a benefactor of the lake, the environment and the users. 

Ricia McMahon
State Representative, Merrimack County District 3
Newbury and Sutton

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