To the Editor: Is Nature for All, or Just a Select Few?


I’m writing to have a public discussion that was prompted by the Girl Scouts posting and fencing the swimming hole that exists on a sliver of their land along the Mormons River in Sugar Hollow. I own the land on the inside that includes the swimming hole. I started coming with my young family to Sugar Hollow to get way as soon as I moved to Charlottesville in 1990. We bought the land in 2000.

I daily walk the land and often see families at the swimming hole or someone teaching his son or daughter to fish. I also see Hispanics doing Baptisms. It is a popular picnic spot.

It disturbs me that the Girl Scouts have taken this action especially since the camp is in session maybe two weeks per year and they would not take my suggestion that the swimming hole be “open” when they are not having camp. You must understand that this is right off the public road that has long afforded access to the public. 

There are “bad actors” that leave trash, but it takes less than five minutes to clean up. It is not a private place. It is, in my opinion, a public place that the Girl Scouts have long been stewards of. I do not know what stimulated this idea of closure.

It is true that Sugar Hollow Road along the Mormons [river] became a circus with the pandemic. People just needed to get out. There was no control. The park doesn’t have the resources. I believe that those of us that are stewards of the land have an obligation to share when no “real” harm is done.

Nature calms us.

I sincerely hope that this discussion will lead to positive outcome.

Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

Sugar Hollow


  1. It’s easy to show your benevolence when it comes to someone else’s money (like politicians do), or, in this case, someone else’s property (like this neighbor is doing). The girl scout property is a 1+ acre, sliver of land along the river. Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols property runs along both sides of the river and comprises roughly 4000 feet of river frontage, yet I don’t see any signs encouraging its use by the public. If you don’t believe in property rights, I want to see ubiquitous signage welcoming me so that I may access your property as freely as hunting dogs have always been allowed to do.


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