A response to “The ‘takeover’ of Lake Ninevah”

Dear Editor,

We write on behalf of the Ninevah Foundation, and ask that this letter be published as a response to Ida Gage’s Aug. 15 opinion article about Lake Ninevah.

We are long-time residents of Lake Ninevah. Paul served for many years as chair of the town’s Select Board, and Judy is a former third-grade teacher in the Mount Holly School. We have been involved with the work of the Ninevah Foundation (and its predecessor, the Wilderness Corporation) for at least 40 years. We also have known Ida and her husband Art ever since they began visiting their camp on the lake.

We are surprised and saddened that Ida chose The Vermont Journal as a forum to air inaccurate complaints about the Ninevah Foundation, which has provided critical leadership for land and lake conservation and use for over 30 years. The Foundation makes nearly all of its land and trails open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, and winter sports including snowmobiling. The only exception is the lands that immediately surround the summer camp programs operated by Farm and Wilderness for children and teens, which are not open to the public only while those programs are in session.

Among other conservation activities, the Foundation pays for “greeters” at the state fishing access to check boats to prevent Eurasian water milfoil from entering the lake and divers to check the lake for milfoil and hand-pull the weed when it appears. The Foundation spent over $200,000 to reconstruct the dam on the lake and continues to maintain it without any public funds and contributed $10,000 to help rebuild the dam on Star Lake in Belmont. Please take a look at the Foundation’s website, www.ninevahfoundation.org, for more information, including its 2017 Annual Report with Sources and Uses of Funds.

We also do not understand why Ida felt it necessary to make accusations against the Foundation’s new partner, the Farm & Wilderness Foundation camps. The camps operate experiential outdoor education programs and a day camp for over 800 children and teens each year. Three of these programs operate on lands owned by the Ninevah Foundation. The camps are run on Quaker values, but they are open to campers of all faiths and have never been charged with religious discrimination. The camps’ tuition is significantly less than other New England nonprofit summer camps, they offer substantial “camperships” to help children of more modest means attend, and they serve many young people from Vermont. Finally, the camps are not nudists. Please take a look at the Farm & Wilderness, www.farmandwilderness.org, website for more information.

Finally, we believe you should know that it is likely that Ida has raised her “grievances” in this public manner largely out of anger that last year she and Art had to abandon a lawsuit they initiated against the Foundation after the case proved to be groundless.

We and other representatives of the Foundation welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone who has questions, concerns, or suggestions about the work the Foundation does, its history, the Gages’ lawsuit, or how the Foundation might better serve the lake and Mount Holly communities.

Sincerely,

Paul and Judy Nevin

Mount Holly, Vt.

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