Bill Calls For Expansion Of Boat Access At Sunapee State Park

Jan 18, 2019

Members of a governor's commission tasked with studying boat access on Lake Sunapee toured Mount Sunapee State Park beach in November of 2017.
Credit Britta Greene / NHPR

State lawmakers will consider a proposal this session to end a decades-long fight over public boat access on Lake Sunapee.

The bill calls for the development of more parking at Mount Sunapee State Park to accommodate vehicles towing boat trailers, as well as improvements to the park’s boat ramp to allow access to deeper water.

New Hampshire is required by law to provide public access to the state’s largest bodies of water, including Lake Sunapee. Many argue the lake’s existing public launches are overcrowded or too shallow.

For years, the state Fish and Game Department has been pushing for development of a new public launch at a property called the Wild Goose site, near the state park beach. But that plan faced strong backlash from local residents, and Governor Chris Sununu ultimately called it off in 2017.

Since then, efforts to expand access have stalled.

Rep. Dan Wolf, Republican of Newbury, is joining a group of bipartisan state lawmakers in proposing a legislative fix. It calls for Fish and Game, the department officially tasked with developing public boat access, to transfer $500,000 to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which manages the state parks.

That sum would be combined with a matching $500,000 state appropriation to fund the parking and boat ramp work.

Wolf, who has worked to expand boat access on Sunapee for nearly three decades, said the proposal is one of very few that he believes stands a chance of moving the issue forward.

"Is it a perfect solution? No,” he said. “Is it a solution? I believe so."