NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
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DATE: May 8, 2009
SUBJECT: Vermont: Lake Willoughby, Westmore
TO: All Naturists
This is an Update from the Naturist Action Committee concerning Lake Willoughby, which is located in the town of Westmore, Vermont, and lies within the Willoughby State Forest.
proactively approached the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation with a proposal that will allow naturists to work more closely and effectively with the State for the
proper stewardship of Lake Willoughby. Both the Agency and the Department have responded favorably.
BRIEF HISTORY AND DISCUSSION
During 2008, a traditional clothing-optional site on the southwest cove of Lake Willoughby was threatened by a petition to ban nudity in the tiny town of Westmore.
The Naturist Action Committee issued a NAC Advisory on this matter on April 28,
2008. A proposed anti-nudity ordinance for the town (including the lake) subsequently failed.
Since the earliest word of a threat to skinny-dipping at Lake
Willoughby, NAC has been working continuously with a local naturist group, helping it organize more formally and assisting it in its
opposition to the anti-nudity ordinance. The group, which calls itself Friends of Willoughby - Southwest Cove (FOW-SWC), is affiliated with The Naturist Society.
UPDATE ON THE PROPOSED ANTI-NUDITY ORDINANCE
The effort to pass an anti-nudity ordinance in Westmore was revived
briefly in early 2009 by the same handful of individuals who had proposed the ban originally. A fiscal appropriation considered necessary for enacting such an ordinance failed to receive the necessary votes at a Westmore town
meeting in March 2009. Although the adoption of an anti-nudity ordinance in Westmore seems unlikely this year, NAC continues its close monitoring of the situation there on behalf of naturists.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS RAISED BY NUDITY OPPONENTS
As the unit of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
that manages and maintains many state-owned properties, the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation (FPR) is responsible for Lake Willoughby. At the end of August 2008, FPR sent letters to the president of Friends of
Willoughby SWC and another member, demanding their presence at a meeting to discuss alleged environmental damage at the southwest cove.
Although the meeting was not characterized as a direct threat to clothing-optional
use of the beach, NAC learned that the complaint behind the investigation had come from among the familiar handful of nudity opponents in Westmore. Those individuals had somehow learned of the meeting and had arranged to be
present. NAC suspected that the
meeting could easily be retribution, targeting those who had helped defeat Westmore's anti-nudity ordinance. NAC quickly and carefully selected, interviewed and retained a highly qualified local attorney to represent the two naturists. See the NAC Advisory dated November 12, 2008.
NAC's hiring of legal counsel changed the dynamic of the situation. Upon hearing that the targets would be represented by a lawyer at the meeting, FPR postponed the meeting.
Eventually, no such meeting was ever conducted.
several months, the questionable environmental charges had not been proved and were no longer being pursued. Nevertheless, NAC moved to resolve the matter more directly with ANR and FPR, so that the lingering attention to the
issue might be redirected in a positive manner for the State and for naturists.
In a teleconference that included NAC board member Virginia Schnee, NAC Executive Director Bob Morton, the Secretary of the Agency of
Natural Resources and the Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. NAC offered to be a resource to the State and to advocate for the proper usage of the Lake Willoughby southwest cove. That proposal was received
graciously and enthusiastically.
NAC requested a memorandum that could be used to guide FOW members, as well as to educate the general public about the proper stewardship of Lake Willoughby and its shoreline. In early
spring of 2009, NAC received those guidelines from the Vermont ANR. It is this memorandum that has become the basis for recent news reports concerning Lake Willoughby and Friends of Willoughby SWC.
A RELATED VERMONT ISSUE
Meanwhile, an individual who has been a vocal proponent of the Westmore
anti-nudity ordinance approached a Vermont state representative with a request for special interest legislation. As a result, Rep John Rodgers (D-Glover) introduced a bill entitled "Prohibiting Public Nudity on Public
Lands" in the current session of the Vermont legislature.
NAC has worked behind the scenes to oppose the bill. In a NAC Action Alert distributed March 27, 2009, the Naturist Action Committee asked naturists to take action by writing to
members of the Vermont legislative committee considering the anti-nudity bill. Your response was tremendous and effective. NAC thanks you!
Having failed to make it out of the legislative committee to
which it was assigned, H.154 will not be considered further this year.
Of significance is the comment of Rep. Helen Head, Chair of the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs. Rep. Head wrote:
H.154 has not been considered by the committee. This year’s deadline for bill passage out of Vermont House committees was March 20. While the
bill could be considered next year, it should be noted that there appears to be little time or interest in passing this bill.
I was recently reminded of an opinion issued to police
departments in 1971 by Vermont's distinguished senior U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy, when he served as Chittenden County State’s Attorney. In that opinion, he commented on the time-honored practice of unclothed swimming known as skinny-dipping. He concluded that nude bathing in secluded areas sometimes publicly used should be permitted when no one present is offended and no disorderly conduct has taken place.
I agree. A great many Vermonters have engaged in this practice and are tolerant of discreet skinny-dipping.
Rep. Helen Head, Chair
Committee on General, Housing & Military Affairs
Vermont House of Representatives
WHAT IS NAC DOING?
Naturist Action Committee is taking an active role in the Lake Willoughby / Westmore situation, both through the local naturist group and through direct interface with Vermont state agencies.
NAC board member Virginia
Schnee has been the primary NAC contact for Friends of Willoughby SWC. Virginia has provided guidance at FOW-SWC's monthly meetings. She has taken part in their meetings with the legal counsel NAC retained, and she has attended
public meetings in Westmore.
NAC continues working closely with Friends of Willoughby SWC, which is spearheading the local effort to oppose any future anti-nudity ordinance
in the town of Westmore. With NAC's encouragement, FOW-SWC is making itself an even more valuable part of the local community. An example is scheduled for this coming weekend, when FOW-SWC conducts a cleanup of Westmore's town beach on the north end of Lake Willoughby. It's not a traditional clothing-optional area, but it's an excellent place for naturists to demonstrate their local involvement.
WHAT IS NAC ASKING YOU TO DO?
This is an update. NAC is not
requesting your specific action at this time.
MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Additional information and links are available, along with this NAC Update on the web site of the Naturist Action Committee. Go to: http://www.naturistaction.org and then select "Alerts, Advisories & Updates" to find this NAC Update under Current Updates.
PLEASE HELP NAC TO CONTINUE HELPING NATURISTS!
The Naturist Action
Committee is a volunteer nonprofit organization that exists to advance and protect the rights and interests of naturists throughout North America. NAC’s legislative monitoring and action are important and continuing operations.
When legal representation becomes necessary, NAC acts swiftly and effectively. Both of those essential functions are reflected in this NAC Update, and both are expensive.
NAC needs your help. To do its job, NAC
relies entirely on the voluntary help of supporters like you. Please support NAC by sending your generous donation to:
PO Box 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903
Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation: http://www.naturistaction.org/donate/
Thank you for choosing to make a difference.
Naturist Action Committee
Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Director Bob Morton - firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Member Virginia Schnee - email@example.com
Online Rep Dennis Kirkpatrick - firstname.lastname@example.org
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