Fans of Vermont Nude Beach Afraid Officials Will Ruin It

But officials say redevelopment is needed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2017 2:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – For decades, the tiny, out-of-sight beach at the south end of Vermont's fjord-like Lake Willoughby has been known as much for its nudity as its views of the clear, cold lake. Now, regulars fear its charm could be the area's undoing. Concerned about the cars that park along the highway by the lake during summer, the state is offering a redevelopment plan that is being criticized by people who use the beach and the surrounding area, the AP reports. The plan includes clearing land to make way for parking, boardwalk trails, and restrooms. Shelah Vogel, of Newport Center, Vermont, says she fears the state's proposal could turn the area into a state park that could eventually require paid admission, forcing out the skinny dippers. "This beautiful natural setting, it kind of lends itself to that, just total freedom from stress and society, crowds," says Vogel, who says she visits the beach daily the summer.

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For decades, the tiny beach at the south end of Lake Willoughby, the 5-mile, narrow body of water flanked by two steep mountains, located about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, has been a haven for people who like to frolic nude. Vermont has no state laws against nudity, although some communities have enacted anti-nudity ordinances. When the state held public meetings about the plans to redevelop the Lake Willoughby area last winter, some officials were shocked at the level of opposition. The outcry prompted the state to scale back the development plans. "It's a much loved place, locally, regionally, state-wide. It's beautiful," says Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. "It's really quite something. It's used a lot. There are increasing pressures that really need to be addressed. It's not sustainable, it's not sufficient as is." (Read more nude beach stories.)

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