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Glenn Normandeau: (603) 271-3511
Richard Fink: (603) 271-1134               
Judy Stokes: (603) 271-3211
May 21, 2009

Permitting Process Continues for Wild Goose Boat Access Facility on Lake Sunapee

CONCORD, N.H. - The process of developing the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's new boat access facility at the Wild Goose site on Lake Sunapee continues, with the public comment period extended to June 26, 2009, regarding a wetland permit application from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES) Wetlands Bureau. 

Written comments regarding the project may be sent to: NHDES Wetlands Bureau, P.O. Box 95, Concord, NH 03302 (reference Proposed Boat Access Wild Goose site, Lake Sunapee, Wetlands Application/Permit # 2008-02781). The scheduled public hearing took place May 13.

"The Wild Goose Access Site project at Lake Sunapee has been in the works for 19 years.  It is important for the public to have safe, adequate access to New Hampshire's sixth largest lake," said N.H. Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau. "Current access is not adequate.  Our goal is to fulfill our responsibility to not discriminate against those who are not otherwise able to access Lake Sunapee.  We plan to build an attractive, safe, free, user-friendly facility that will be an asset for the state."

Normandeau noted that the planned Wild Goose facility is an environmentally responsible, state-of-the-art project that will safeguard the water quality of Lake Sunapee through the use of pervious pavement, bioretention areas and other low-impact development techniques to minimize impacts from runoff.  No fertilizers or biocides will be used on the site.

The proposed Wild Goose boating access site has a long history, which began in 1990, when the Land Conservation Investment Program (LCIP) purchased the 133-acre tract on Lake Sunapee in Newbury at a foreclosure auction for $603,614. The parcel includes a 3.3-acre lakefront site, which was given to the N.H. Fish and Game Department to manage with the understanding that it would be developed into the primary public boat access to one of the state's largest lakes.

The Public Water Access Advisory Board (PWAAB), which advises Fish and Game on public access initiatives, has been working on the Wild Goose project since the Board was established in 1993.  "We've been involved in the public process of trying to develop the site all these years," said PWAAB Chairman Thomas Quarles.  "The board voted unanimously in 2004 to move forward on developing the site as a full public boat access facility, and that remains the Board's position.  The land for the Wild Goose site was bought specifically to put in a boat ramp to allow the general public of New Hampshire to have access to one of the largest and most popular lakes in the state.  Sporting and fishing groups feel the public's access rights have been frustrated by the lack of progress on developing this project."

Under N.H. State Law, the Fish and Game Department is mandated to establish public access to waterbodies over 10 acres in size, known as "great ponds," which are by statute publicly owned.

The Wild Goose facility is needed because, while there are a number of other existing boat ramps on Lake Sunapee, all have serious limitations. There are several other access sites on the lake, but none are adequate - parking is extremely limited or restricted to residents only, fees are charged, or they are not useable by larger boats, among other concerns.  These other existing sites were considered for expansion by Fish and Game during the planning for the Wild Goose project, but none were found to be acceptable.  Mt. Sunapee State Park Beach, for example, has a shallow sandy ramp, but is not under consideration as a site for increased boat-access facilities for a variety of reasons, in particular potential boater/swimmer conflicts.  It was not considered advisable or safe to combine the proposed boat launch with the only public beach in the area. The state beach site also raises environmental concerns, because it would require massive dredging that would adversely impact important fisheries habitat and spawning activity.  Also, access to the state park is restricted during the early morning, when many boaters and anglers prefer to be on the water.  The existing boat launch at Sunapee Harbor has limited parking; pedestrian safety, long waits and traffic congestion are among the problems with this site.

N.H. Fish and Game Commissioner Tom Hubert, who represents Sullivan County, has had a family cottage on Lake Sunapee since 1973.  "I virtually grew up on the lake; I have fished and explored every corner of it.  I wholeheartedly support the Wild Goose access site," said Hubert.  "The sportsmen and boaters of Sullivan County are very much in favor of this project.  There's a tremendous need for reasonable, convenient access to Lake Sunapee.  Over the last ten years, the existing access has become more problematic, as parking has gotten more limited, or further and further away from this wonderful public body of water."

Learn more about the proposed Wild Goose access site, and see a computer-generated illustration of the planned project, at

Find out more about New Hampshire's Public Water Access Advisory Board at

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is responsible for establishing public boating access for the benefit of all citizens. State Law gives Fish and Game this authority in order to assure public boating access in perpetuity to the general public. In establishing new access areas, the Department follows a detailed process, beginning with meeting with the public, assessing environmental, cultural, social and political considerations and following all permitting requirements of the State of New Hampshire. Fish and Game currently administers more than 134 public water access sites throughout the state. The Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit

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