Shelton Land Trust president defends board's decision to deny Native American Pow Wow

Joseph Welsh, president of the Shelton Land Conservation Trust responded today to a letter from Shelton resident Keith Rood, criticizing the trust’s decision to not allow the Golden Hill Paugassett Tribe to use Nichodale farm property for a Native American Pow Wow.

To read Rood’s letter, published in this weeks' paper, click here.

Welsh said the land trust respects Native American culture but were worried the large event, including vendors and several vehicles, would upset the wildlife and damage the property.

Here is Welsh’s full response:

“I am sorry that Mr. Rood feels upset with the Land Trust Board’s decision on the use of Nicholdale for a Pow Wow. One of the main reasons we initially entertained the idea of the Pow Wow is our respect for the Native American culture and view them as some of the best land stewards there ever were, by taking care of the land and not exploiting it as is so common in today's world.

For several years the trust has been involved in the maintenance of woodland trails as well as restoration of the parcels old farm fields which are now maintained for early successional habitat. Nicholdale is open to the public for hiking and nature study. There is also a woodland camping area for local scout groups, this is low impact for the most part with just one vehicle permitted into the site for emergency purposes.

The trust had never allowed such an intense use of the property as was proposed by Mr. Rood with multiple vehicles and retail vendors on site, so we had to really make sure an event of this magnitude was the right decision. I was part of a site walk with Mr. Rood in the fall to go over details and logistics, and report back to the board for further discussion. While there are many good aspects Nicholdale did not seem like the best choice.

I expressed my concerns to the board about potential upset to the wildlife we are trying to benefit, damage to the property, sanitation and liter concerns, and liability concerns that our insurer would likely not cover, and the board agreed that this would not be an appropriate use for the site as it was too intense.

As an all volunteer group we try to do our best to be good stewards of the land by protection of the wildlife habitat, managing invasive plant species and giving public access to these lands for passive recreation. Some uses may do more harm than good. Mr. Rood trying to equate this to anything else is simply out of line.

Joseph Welsh

Shelton Land Conservation Trust President”

For more on this story, see next week’s Herald.