The Ninevah Foundation is a conservation organization dedicated to promoting the wilderness character and tranquil nature of Lake Ninevah and over 3,200 acres of surrounding land in Mount Holly and Plymouth, Vermont. For nearly half a century, volunteers with the Ninevah Foundation (and its predecessor, the Wilderness Corporation) have collaborated with area residents and conservation specialists to keep both lake and land in their pristine, natural state. Lake Ninevah and its environs are home to a wide array of wildlife and a treasured destination for people who enjoy nature-friendly recreation.
Lake Ninevah remains free of the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil plant that has infested many Vermont lakes. By supporting the Ninevah Foundation with volunteered time and financial contributions, the lake community has continued to make this critically-important accomplishment possible.
Now our community faces a new challenge: the accelerating growth of invasive plants on land.
In recent years, the Ninevah Foundation’s forester, Silos Roberts, along with Paul Nevin and other volunteers, have tackled patches of invasive plants on a case-by-case basis. For instance, homeowners have been concerned about Japanese knotweed, which has proliferated over increasingly large areas of land around the lake. Last summer, local residents cut down an acre-large expanse of Japanese knotweed along the Lake Ninevah Road. On the day the Foundation paid to have the area treated with an herbicide, a community member hired the same herbicide crew to spray knotweed plants on her family’s land.
But given the threat invasive plants pose for our woods and fields, a more comprehensive approach is required. The Foundation’s board of directors is developing a systematic program for controlling invasive terrestrial species on Foundation land. For this program to be successful, the entire lake community needs to be engaged in protecting all lake-area land.
As a first step, we must become more informed about land invasives. These plants include certain non-native species that are harmful to the environment because they choke out native species that are critical to the local habitat. Most insects in Vermont, for example, are not attracted to Japanese knotweed, a plant with broad leaves and bamboo-like stems that can grow up to 13 feet tall. It easily crowds out the native plants the insects usually feed on, and since insect populations are a primary food source for fish, birds and mammals, the whole food chain suffers. In addition, invasive plants may not provide sufficient cover for wildlife.
Some invasive plants have been introduced accidentally – as crop contaminants or in ship cargo – but others were brought here deliberately. Japanese knotweed, initially regarded as an attractive plant that grew easily, was intentionally imported to the West. Little did gardeners know that this “escaped ornamental,” as it’s sometimes called, would eventually be classified as one of the world’s worst invasive species.
The Ninevah Foundation and area homeowners are certainly not alone in confronting an increase in invasive plants, which is spurred by climate change. Longer growing seasons favor invasive species because of their ability to beat out competitors for resources. So organizations across the country are now compelled to find new, creative ways to deal with the problem.
The Foundation will continue to communicate with the community about how we can work together to control invasive plants. This spring, Foundation board members is consulting with experts to identify which species our community should focus on and their location. Then Foundation volunteers will formulate a strategic, environmentally-sound control plan to share. You can also go to vtinvasives.org for more information on invasive plants in Vermont.
MORE 2016 HIGHLIGHTS
Lake Ninevah. As always, the Ninevah Foundation hired specialized divers who snorkeled and scuba-dived the lake in three stages last summer looking for Eurasian watermilfoil. Once again we can report that Lake Ninevah remains free of this invasive plant that has ruined many other Vermont lakes. The Foundation’s greeters were also on hand at the state fishing access every day from spring through fall, checking boats to make sure that no milfoil “hitchhiked” in on boats from other lakes. They also distributed materials to educate boaters about protecting the loons, the boat speed limit, and other aspects of responsible recreation on the lake.
Loons. Foundation and lake-community volunteers continued to collaborate with the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, coordinating the placement of signs around the island to protect the loons’ nesting site and ensuring that loon activity was monitored and reported to Project staff throughout the summer.
Townsend Barn. With seed funding from the Ninevah Foundation and board members who volunteered to raise funds and oversee construction, a new foundation was built for the historic Townsend Barn. Two large doors were also installed on the back side of the barn, to provide easy access for boat storage. Many local homeowners made generous contributions to this project, and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation awarded us the maximum available grant. This year the Foundation plans to plant trees and bushes around the barn and undertake necessary carpentry work. We will also apply for another state grant to be awarded in 2018.
Ecological Inventory. The Foundation continued work on its first-ever ecological inventory of Ninevah Foundation lands, which has yielded a number of significant findings. As noted in last year’s annual appeal letter, we now know that on Ninevah Foundation land there is a large, rare, high-elevation stand of old hardwood trees on Salt Ash Mountain; many wetlands around the lake that had never been mapped; and a rare species of cotton-grass. The 2017 survey will cover additional parcels and provide more in-depth information about the areas already surveyed.
New Map of Lake Ninevah Area. The Foundation created a new map of the area around Lake Ninevah, designed by a professional cartographer. The map incorporates information on historic sites, such as old cellar holes, that was provided by area homeowners who attended the second annual Ninevah Neighbors Network potluck dinner last August in Blakely Meadow. If you would like a free pdf of the map, you can write to ninevahfoundation.org.
Lower Speed Limit on Lake Ninevah Road. Following numerous reports of hazardous driving on Lake Ninevah Road, Foundation board member Paul Nevin successfully petitioned the Town of Mount Holly to lower the speed limit to 35 m.p.h. Previously the speed limit had been 50 m.p.h., the default on Vermont roads.
Community Support. The Ninevah Foundation received more individual donations than ever, in addition to the contributions to the barn fund.
NINEVAH FOUNDATION SOURCES AND USES OF FUNDS 2016
|Contributions (annual appeal, barn restoration fund and other donations)||$ 70,335|
|Grant income (funding from the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources to subsidize milfoil control and from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation to restore the Townsend Barn)||$ 21,000|
|Property rental (principally from Farm & Wilderness for two camps: Saltash Mountain and Flying Cloud)||$ 36,598|
|Timber sales (sustainable timber harvesting)||$ 4,243|
|Interest, dividends and capital appreciation of reserve fund||$ 60,625|
|Land conservation (land purchase and related transactions)||$ 350|
|Natural resources stewardship (milfoil control, insurance, forest management, conservation easement monitoring and enforcement, property taxes)||$ 76,716|
|Townsend Barn restoration||$ 52,629|
|Education and external relations (website, trails signage and maps, newsboards, “Lake Ninevah Splash” email and and other communication with core constituencies)||$ 1,834|
|Resource generation (volunteer recruitment and fundraising)||$ 1,967|
|Management and general (reserve fund management and administrative costs)||$ 16,124|
INCREASE (DECREASE) IN NET FINANCIAL ASSETS$ 43,181
CONTRIBUTIONS OF TIME AND MONEY
Volunteers. In 2016, Ninevah Foundation Board of Directors and other volunteers spent hundreds of hours working to conserve Lake Ninevah as well as its shoreline and vistas, and to support greater public understanding of natural resource conservation. Special thanks to George Wood for heading up Lake Ninevah’s loon care work, and Denise and Richard Blake for leadership in organizing the emerging Ninevah Neighbors Network. The board includes Jerry Carney, Tom Hotaling, Emily Hunter (liaison to the Forest Echo community), David Martin, Betsey McGee, Paul Nevin, Rob Schultz, Andy Schulz, Tim Snyder ex-officio (as liaison to the Wilderness Community Inc.) and Dano Weisbord.
Donations. The Ninevah Foundation gratefully acknowledges the donations made in 2016 by the following supporters of Lake Ninevah. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the following list. If we have inadvertently omitted or misspelled your name, please accept our deepest apologies and let us know.
Denise and Richard Blake
Mary Ann and Len Cadwallader
Jerry Carney and Ellen Deluca
Francis and Carol Devine
Amy Donovan and Tom O’Toole
Jim and Carol Edward
Joyce and David Edward
Rita and Warren Eisenberg
Margaret and Sam Fogel
Sandy and Dan Glynn
David Green and Juliette Bianco
Tom Gutheil and Shannon Woolley
Matt Guttman and Conny Class
Dick and Wende Harper
Lois and Caleb Harris
Rick and Emmy Hausman
Janet and Craig Hayman
Lynn and Bob Herbst
Anita and Axel Hoffer
Daniel and Meredith Hoffer
Deborah and David Hoffer
Tom and Gwen Hotaling
Danielle Jacobs-Erwin and Bryan Erwin
Carol Jeffery and Tom Bittner
Denise Johnson and Tom Wies
Bonnie Koenig and Gerry Rosenberg
Wendy Koenig and John Walter
Jim Luckett and Betty MacKenzie
Steve and Nancy McDonald
Betsey McGee and Mark Pecker
Conner and Kate McGee
Scott and Cathy McGee
Jim and Jennifer McGrath
Adrienne and David Magida
Nick Marshall and Kate Flynn
Lee Monroe and Hank Schwartz
Martha and Eskandar Nabatian
Judy and Paul Nevin
Jay and Maia Newman
Andy and Maureen Nosal
Lydia Pecker and Carl Johnson
Stacie and Tuoc Phan
Padraic and Margaret O’Hare
Judith and Donald Raffety
Diane and Gerald Rogell
Saundra and Robert Rose
Carolyn Saunders and Bert Munger
Martha Saunders Nabatian
Mauri Small and Andy Schulz
Diana & Martin Schwartz
Harry and Patricia Schwarzlander
Brigid Sullivan and David Hoeh
Sue and Mike Thacker
Catherine and Stuart Thomas
Ron Unterman and Dottie Finnerty
Carol and Dave Venter
Keay and David Wagner
Marianne and Michael Walsh
Janet and Paul Warren
Dano Weisbord and Annie Leonard
Dawn and Bob Weisbord
Dorothy and Marvin Weisbord
Joe and Joyce Weisbord
Nina Weisbord and George Wood
Wilderness Community, Inc.
Milt Wolfson and Patty Burrows
Steve Zeichner and Rachel Moon