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Gemmill gift to boost Newfound conservation efforts

The love of the land becomes a legacy for future generations

In honor of her father, former Camp Paquaney Director John Gemmill, Warwick Foundation Trustee Helen Gemmill announces the gift of $750,000 to assist in land conservation initiatives in the Newfound watershed. She was joined for the occasion by Newfound Land Conservation Partnership member, Dick Beyer, and Camp Pasquaney Director Vinnie Broderick, both lifelong Gemmill family friends. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011
HEBRON—A large crowd of local land conservation luminaries gathered late Sunday afternoon at Eastbourne Place, the Director's residence at Camp Pasquaney, to hear an exciting announcement.

The Warwick Foundation is making a memorial gift of $750,000 in honor of the late state legislator, and former Camp Pasquaney Director, John Gemmill, to support conservation initiatives in the Newfound watershed.

The announcement came from Gemmill's daughter, Helen, a Trustee of the Warwick Foundation. She told the assembled gathering that as a child growing up on a farm in Bucks County, Pa., her father spent many summers at Camp Pasquaney on the shores of Newfound Lake, and as an adult, he chose to move to the area and served as Camp Director for 23 years.

"Throughout his upbringing and education, it was here that he returned every summer, and those formative experiences here developed into a lifelong devotion to this place in general, and to environmental issues and conservation in particular," said Helen.

The idea of a memorial gift honoring her father's legacy originated with his sister, Betsey Gemmill, as discussions over the past several years took place about how to close out the Gemmill family Foundation and donate their Bucks County, Pa. farm to a local agricultural college.

The Warwick Foundation is a private charitable foundation of the Gemmill Family, founded in 1961 by the late Kenneth W. and Helen Hartman Gemmill. The Warwick Foundation will have distributed nearly $45 million in grants to non-profits before its close in 2011.

Betsey Gemmill and John Gemmill's wife, Priscilla, were both present at Camp Pasquaney for the very special occasion.

Helen said that the gift is carefully crafted to accomplish certain important objectives.

"The idea is to incentivize additional land conservation work in this watershed, and amplify the reach and leverage of the great environmental work already being done here to ensure a clean lake and healthy hillsides for many generations to come," she explained.

The gift will focus on education, outreach and fund development efforts. Specifically, it will support staff time to coordinate land conservation efforts in the Newfound Lake watershed. Secondly, it will incentivize land protection by creating a transaction fund to "grease the wheels" of land conservation initiatives by helping to cover costs such as surveys, appraisals, stewardship costs and legal fees.

Newfound Land Conservation Partnership member Dick Beyer, a former colleague and friend of John Gemmill, also spoke to gathering, remembering John's "model of service to the community" and many contributions to conservation efforts in the Newfound region.

"Helen's remarkable gift honoring her father and my lifelong friend couldn't have come along at a more opportune time," remarked Beyer.

He outlined recent efforts instigated locally by former Program Director of the NLRA, Martha Twombly, now with the Forest Society, to encourage land conservation by the formation of a unique partnership between the Newfound Lake Region Association, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. The Partnership serves to build relationships with landowners, provide education, and help them to learn about conservation options for their land.

According to Beyer, these efforts, aided immeasurably by the gift from the Gemmill family, will soon result in a substantial number of conservation projects in the Newfound watershed, totalling potentially up to 3,000 acres of land in the years ahead.

Helen closed the official ceremonies with a brief excerpt from a sermon her father delivered in 1977 on the topic of loyalty. She said it was his keen hope that others would "find great solace and inspiration" here at Newfound, where, "removed from the pressures and confusions of the contemporary world, we have an opportunity to listen to our best selves..."

And so we shall.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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