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Dear Friends of the Ninevah Foundation:
We have 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Farm & Wilderness Foundation and Ninevah Foundation email@example.com
Sustainable Resources Director
Farm & Wilderness Foundation and Ninevah Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ninevah Foundation needs your input for a first-ever inventory of the 3,200 acres we conserve around Lake Ninevah. Much of the information you help us gather – about flora, fauna, geographical features and such – will be compiled in an ecological inventory that we have commissioned. Ecologist Brett Engstrom, who is overseeing the project, has framed most of the questions below.
But we are also taking this opportunity to learn more about historical sites and favorite recreational spots. Please take a few minutes to tell us about your discoveries in the area around Lake Ninevah. We will share the results of the survey with everyone who’s interested. Yes, this is crowdsourcing!
Using the questionnaire below, describe what you’ve seen and where, take a picture, use your GPS if you have one – the more “concrete” information the better. Please write your answers to these questions on a separate sheet of paper and bring it along with any photos to the NINEVAH NEIGHBORS NETWORK potluck dinner, August 6 at 5:30 in Blakely Meadow. Together we will mark maps to pinpoint places of interest.
If you can’t come to the August 6 get-together, please send your answers to NinevahFoundation@gmail.com. We will share the results with everyone interested.
1. Interesting animals: mountain lions, bobcats, otters, turtles, salamanders, etc. Interesting birds, nests or nesting sites such as osprey nests or a heron rookery
2. Signs of wildlife presence:
Moose or deer (hoof prints or scat)
Beech tree stands marked by bear
Frog and salamander breeding sites: tadpoles, egg masses, places where frogs/salamanders cross roads on rainy nights
Fisher or otter tracks
3. Trees: Unusual species like red pine, hemlock, spruce. Big trees, old forests, old apple orchards
4. Rich woods where spring ephemerals appear: maidenhair fern, trout lily, spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, blue cohosh, wild ginger
5. Rich wildflower sites, amazing ferns, any plants that seem unusual or catch your attention
6. Geographical features: little gorges, ledges big and small, cliffs, rock or talus (broken rock debris) fields, glades or openings in woods that seem to be of natural origin
7. Watery areas: springs, seeps, swamps, remote wetlands, vernal pools (basins that fill with snow and ice melt in season, and dry up in summer)
8. Historical sites: old cellar holes, abandoned logging roads, any evidence of former farming community, etc.
9. Favorite trails/woods roads for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, spots to linger or picnic, favorite views or unusual landforms.
10. Anything else
Your name ______________________________________________
Your email address _____________________________________
Chris Bernier, head of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Furbearer Management Program, led this comprehensive and thought-provoking program on the responsible trapping of Vermont’s furbearing mammals. Forum participants, ranging from trappers to local conservationists and summer visitors, learned how trapping contributes to the science of wildlife population management and protection of endangered species. Bernier also made a case for the fur trade, noting that, unlike some materials that humans wear for warmth, such as synthetic fleece, responsibly harvested fur is a sustainable resource.
Dozens of people flocked (so to speak) to this fascinating forum to learn why some of Vermont’s nesting songbirds have declined dramatically in recent years. Chris Rimmer, conservation biologist and Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, gave an engaging presentation on the threats to songbirds and how scientists are working to “keep them common.”
Sara Zahendra proved that she truly is the “Queen Bee” of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, with her dynamic program about the bumblebee. We learned all about life in a bumblebee colony, why these cute, fuzzy pollinators are at risk, and what we can do about it. (Plant more flowers!)
An overflow crowd learned how to to recognize and control a variety of invasive plants, in this forum featuring Hannah Putnam of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the Ottauquechee Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. We also got a chance to meet the new game warden, Tim Carey, and learn about the increase in local black bear activity over the summer.