Past Events

The Surprising Nature of Lake Ninevah

August 4, 2:30-4:00
Mount Holly School

What surprises did nature have in store when Vermont ecologist Brett Engstrom surveyed Lake Ninevah and the 3,300 acres of conserved land surrounding it? Dozens of Mount Holly residents gathered to learn the answers, when Brett discussed his remarkable two-year inventory of the ecological resources of the Lake Ninevah area.

The event, hosted by the Ninevah Foundation, also celebrated the joining of forces with the Farm & Wilderness Foundation in service of stewarding the environment and educating young people. Representatives of both organizations were on hand to answer questions and to hear feedback from the Mount Holly community about conserving Lake Ninevah and its surroundings.

To learn more about the ecological inventory and see the maps created from the project, click here.


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 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 _____________________________________


Trapping Furbearing Animals

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.

Saving the Songbirds

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.”

The Buzz on Bumblebees

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!)

Not Invited: Invasive Plants

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.

Meet the Birds of Prey

Four live raptors played to a packed house at this highly entertaining event featuring Michael Clough, Assistant Director of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. Everyone at the Mount Holly Town Library was thrilled to get a close look at the birds – a barred owl, a red tailed hawk, a kestrel and a screech owl – and learn all about Vermont’s majestic birds of prey. It helped that Mike is not only an avid naturalist, but also a born actor and comedian. We will definitely invite him back for a future event!


Beavers have two sets of eyelids — the lids underneath are transparent so they can see while swimming underwater. That’s just one fascinating facet of nature’s busy builders, featured in this engaging presentation by Chris Bernier, leader of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s Furbearing Management Program. Participants in the forum at the Mount Holly Town Library learned all about beavers’ amazing engineering feats, how they benefit other wildlife and what to do when beaver architecture causes flooding and other problems for humans.

Frogs, Turtles, Snakes and More

Fun frog fact: This critter will eat anything it can fit into its mouth – including another frog! Just one of the intriguing habits of reptiles and amphibians that Vermont naturalist James Andrews shared with a lively and inquisitive audience at the Mount Holly Town Library. As coordinator of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project, Andrews tracks sightings of frogs, toads, turtles and snakes in each Vermont town. He distributed an up-to-date list of those known to be living in the Mount Holly area and urged everyone to look for certain species that haven’t been documented in 25 years.

Meet the Moose

Mount Holly Town Library

The largest animal in Vermont’s wildlife landscape drew the biggest crowd ever for the “Know Your Wild Neighbor” series. An overflow crowd gathered to learn about the marvelous moose from Cedric Alexander, Moose Project Leader for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department for more than 20 years. Cedric clearly knows everything there is to know about moose – their lives and habits, their history in Vermont and likely places to spot one in the great outdoors. (Look for them at the manmade roadside “salt licks” created by road-salt runoff. And if you’re driving a car, be careful!)


Did you know that black bears make “nests” in trees so they can feed in comfort? Forrest Hammond of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department shared that and many other intriguing bear facts in his engaging presentation at the Mount Holly Town Library. Audience members got answers to all their questions, like how to keep bears out of the backyard (take down that bird feeder) and what to do if you encounter a black bear (make a lot of noise and do NOT run away!).

Loon with chicks Loons

Eric Hanson, biologist with the Vermont Loon Recovery Project, drew a capacity crowd for this presentation at the Mount Holly Town Library. The audience learned that just 25 years ago, common loons were disappearing from Vermont, with only 10 nesting pairs statewide. Now there are over 60 pairs — and the loons on Lake Ninevah have played a major role. The chicks they’ve produced since 1995 have likely helped colonize seven nearby water bodies.

(Photo by Ray Richer)

Lake Ninevah Walk & Talk

Paul Nevin, a longtime Mount Holly resident and retired teacher, shared his 60-year “love affair” with Lake Ninevah at a Saturday afternoon gathering at the Fish & Wildlife Boat Access. The group then visited several spots around the lakeshore as Paul described how Lake Ninevah and its surroundings have changed since his boyhood vacations there in the 1950s.

Bobcats! Bobcats

The crowd of wildlife lovers at Vermont Wildlife Biologist Kim Royar’s presentation learned that bobcats are one of the most widely distributed carnivores in the contiguous U.S., and the rocky ledges and wetlands of northwest Vermont are important habitat. But the animals are now at risk in the Green Mountain State due to encroaching land development.


Mount Holly Town Library

Lake Ninevah, and other Vermont lakes, attract a number of “invasive” plants and animals that can spread and take over a lake, choking off other life and making water recreation impossible. Marie Levesque Caduto, Watershed Coordinator with the Vermont D.E.C., showed how to identify unwelcome species like zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, and what can be done to control them.

Bats & “White Nose Syndrome”

Why are so many bats dying in Vermont…and why should we care? Scott Darling, a bat biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, had the answers at this forum at the Mount Holly Town Library. Bats consume vast amounts of mosquitoes and crop-damaging insects, and some are important pollinators, feeding on nectar and pollen. But this valuable wildlife asset is threatened by a fungal epidemic that has spread throughout the eastern U.S. and into Canada.