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.
It’s clear to anyone who has experienced Lake Ninevah and the countryside around it that this is an area of rare natural beauty to be treasured and protected. But the results of a first-ever ecological inventory commissioned by the Ninevah Foundation and completed last year reveal an even more extraordinary landscape than anyone had imagined.
In his final report on the inventory, botanist Brett Engstrom wrote of his utter amazement at what he found over two years of exploring the thousands of acres around Lake Ninevah:
At the outset I was expecting a fairly low diversity of natural communities and not a great number of wetlands given the geological and physiographic setting of Ninevah Foundation lands. After the first few days in the field on the project I realized how wrong my expectations were. Not only was there rich northern hardwood forest perched high in the mountains where I was least expecting it, but wetlands, including numerous vernal pools and seeps [temporary pools that provide critical breeding habitat for salamanders and frogs] that appeared almost everywhere I went on the elevated flats north and south of Lake Ninevah. And Lake Ninevah – the crown jewel – and its large peatland occupying a bay at its south end, are one of Vermont’s ecological treasures, both for their biodiversity, including many rare plants, and their sheer beauty.
Truly, it has been a privilege to be able to spend many days exploring this surprisingly diverse landscape tucked up in the elevated basins found at the south end of the Coolidge Range in the Green Mountains.
 “Natural community” refers to an interacting assemblage of organisms, their physical environment and the natural processes that affect them.
The gratifying conclusion of this significant ecological assessment of Ninevah Foundation lands was among many steps forward last year.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
Land invasives. The Ninevah Foundation identified eight invasive plants growing on Foundation land and other lakeside properties. These unwanted plants crowd out plants that are critical to local habitat health, and are a growing problem globally due to climate change. We expanded our eradication efforts, which had begun the previous year with Japanese knotweed, and devised a coordinated plan to commence this year to control additional invasive plants, working together with area property owners. If you would like information about the invasive species around Lake Ninevah, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Ninevah. The lake remained free of the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil plant that has ruined many Vermont lakes, thanks to the vigilance of the greeters at the fishing access and the divers that survey the lake throughout the summer. The Foundation pays these staffers with private donations and grants from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation State Lakes and Ponds Division.
Loons. Volunteers from the Ninevah Foundation and the lake community worked with the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, placing signs around the island to protect the loons’ nesting site and reporting to the Project on loon activity throughout the year.
Townsend Barn. Foundation volunteers planned and coordinated landscaping around the barn and applied for a 2018 Barn Preservation Grant from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. We received the full amount requested, which together with donations from local homeowners and the Ninevah Foundation will pay for necessary carpentry work this year.
Community support. A record number of individual donors made contributions to support the Foundation’s work.
All in all, 2017 was a banner year for the Ninevah Foundation. And the future looks even brighter, thanks to the Foundation’s new affiliation with Farm & Wilderness Foundation. To learn about more about this exciting partnership, please read the following letter from Dano Weisbord.
Dear Friends of the Ninevah Foundation:
We hope that this letter finds you well. We are writing with exciting news about the future of the Foundation. The Boards of the Ninevah Foundation and the Farm & Wilderness Foundation have agreed on a new governance structure and sharing of resources which we believe will be beneficial to both organizations, to our community, as well as Lake Ninevah and surrounding land. Through this letter, we want to share with you the key points of this new relationship, as well as the background that led to it.
As many of you may know, the Ninevah Foundation is a successor to the for-profit Wilderness Corporation that was founded in 1961. The Wilderness Corporation was in many ways an organization ahead of its time, a for-profit engaged in the buying and selling of land around Lake Ninevah for the purposes of conservation, and in support of the programmatic aims of the Farm & Wilderness Camps (also at the time for-profit). Both organizations have evolved since then. Farm & Wilderness, founded by Quaker Educators and operated under Quaker principles of governance, became a non-profit charitable organization in 1974. The Wilderness Corporation evolved into the non-profit charitable Ninevah Foundation in 2001.
Both organizations have thrived over this period. Farm & Wilderness has grown to include multiple summer programs, three of which are located on Ninevah Foundation land, and now owns approximately 1,200 acres of conservation land. Ninevah Foundation now owns and conserves more than 3,300 acres of land in the Lake Ninevah valley and on the spine of the Green Mountains, along an important corridor between the north and south sections of the Green Mountain National Forest. Over the past 10 years, the Ninevah Foundation board has been asking critical questions about the role, management, and long term prospects of the Foundation. We have always operated as a working Board, hiring help as needed, but largely doing the work ourselves.
More recently, we have taken a much more active role in understanding and managing the features and resources available on our land. This has included programs such as the “milfoil monitors” at the state fishing access, educational events on our lands and in Belmont, and more active management of land-based invasive species.
The growth of these activities and the need to support them placed strain on Ninevah Foundation’s model of combined Board management and operations. Farm & Wilderness has always been, and continues to be, an organization with whom we have tremendous synergy. Their programs depend on the continued conservation of our lands, and our programs depend on the financial support we receive in the form of rent. In 2013, we began to discuss options and alternatives for working or affiliating with Farm & Wilderness that would bring long-term stability to the Ninevah Foundation.
We have now completed an agreement with Farm & Wilderness. Through this agreement, Ninevah Foundation will become one of three non-profit organizations run by a common board of trustees dedicated to education of children in six summer camps and stewardship of the environment. The Ninevah Foundation will maintain its name, mission, property ownership and finances; and will now benefit from full time professional staff provided by Farm & Wilderness, who will continue to work with the Lake Ninevah community to steward the lake and the land around it. Our agreement requires the adoption of a stewardship plan and the hiring of a dedicated conservation director who will manage natural resources as well as work with those whose collaboration is critical to the conservation missions of the Ninevah and Farm & Wilderness Foundations.
Dano Weisbord, former President, and Andy Schulz, former Vice-President of the Ninevah Foundation will serve on the board of trustees that will oversee the Farm & Wilderness Foundation and the Ninevah Foundation; and serve on a newly formed conservation committee of the boards of both organizations. The agreement includes an on-going requirement that at least two board members have knowledge of Lake Ninevah and that one of them must own property in the immediate vicinity of the lake or be a family member of a land-owner.
We are very pleased to bring professional land stewardship to the Ninevah Foundation, and proud of this deepened relationship with Farm & Wilderness Foundation. Many of you have been long-time supporters of the Ninevah Foundation, and we are tremendously appreciative of your dedication. We will be counting on your continued support of the Ninevah Foundation and we look forward to making introductions of the staff people who will be working with us to carry on our mission of caring for Lake Ninevah and the surrounding land. We are happy to answer any questions you might have, so please feel free to be in touch with any of us.
With best regards,
Trustee, Farm & Wilderness Foundation and Ninevah Foundation Former President, Ninevah Foundation
Trustee, Farm & Wilderness and Ninevah Foundation Former Vice-President, Ninevah Foundation email@example.com
Farm & Wilderness Foundation and Ninevah Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainable Resources Director
Farm & Wilderness Foundation and Ninevah Foundation email@example.com
NINEVAH FOUNDATION SOURCES AND USES OF FUNDS 2017
|Contributions (annual appeal, barn restoration fund and other donations)||$ 28,640|
|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)||$ 18,986|
|Property rental (principally from Farm & Wilderness for two camps: Saltash Mountain and Flying Cloud)||$ 39,253|
|Timber sales (sustainable timber harvesting)||$ 7,171|
|Annual allocation from reserve fund||$ 38,700|
|Natural resources stewardship (milfoil control, insurance, forest management, conservation easement monitoring and enforcement, property taxes)||$ 82,622|
|Townsend Barn restoration||$ 3,176|
|Education and external relations (website, trails signage and maps, newsboards, “Lake Ninevah Splash” email and and other communication with core constituencies)||$ 1,359|
|Resource generation (volunteer recruitment and fundraising)||$ 2,358|
|Management and general (reserve fund management and administrative costs)||$ 14,940|
OPERATING FUND SURPLUS TRANSFERRED TO RESERVE FUND$ 28,296
CONTRIBUTIONS OF TIME AND MONEY
Volunteers. In 2017, 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 included Jerry Carney, Rich Donnell ex-officio (as liaison to the Wilderness Community Inc.), Tommy Hotaling, Emily Hunter (liaison to the Forest Echo community), David Martin, Betsey McGee, Paul Nevin, Rob Schultz, Andy Schulz, and Dano Weisbord.
Donations. The Ninevah Foundation gratefully acknowledges the donations made in 2017 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 HotalingEmily Hunter
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’HareLeah Pillsbury
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