The Foundation's role as caretaker of Nantucket's largest conservation areas continue to present our staff and Board of Trustees with new challenges on a daily basis.
Many of the natural resources found on our properties are rare and in need of protection. We constantly strive to develop and implement effective land management strategies, and we collaborate with our local and regional conservation partners whenever possible.
As more people visit our "spit of sand", as Melville called it, the responsibilities involved with being the island's largest landholder require us to take on varied and changing skills. Maintaining the many miles of walking trails, open pastures and roads open to the public means mowing and brush cutting cycles be planned out and executed. Using our heavier equipment to cut back the extensive road edges enable clearer sightlines for the safety of drivers, walkers and bikers, as well as mowing and cutting back the hundreds of acres in the Middle Moors "Serengeti" for a grassland restoration project in conjunction with our science department. Fence lines need repair, trail signage must be maintained and constant patrols of our properties are completed for any signs of misuse. Building repairs on our structures are ongoing and the skill sets we've developed allow us to do most work in house, which allows us to control the schedule and costs associated with the repairs. Participating in the prescribed burn program to restore our rare grassland and heathland habitat are examples of longer term efforts the group is involved with heavily.
Chris Iller is the Property Maintenance Supervisor, assisted by Richard Mack and his brother Donnie Mack. Chris coordinates work with our science department to ensure effective land management tactics are implemented while planning and scheduling the crew's efforts. Richard brings carpentry and heavy machinery skills to the table while Donnie runs the mowing schedules and maintains our vehicle fleet. The crew is also called upon to actively assist in our sheep grazing program examining the relative effects of grazing on land management. As you can imagine, anytime you deal with live animals it makes life a little more interesting. The group completed an environmental grant at the Head of the Plains relative to road edge restoration, protecting a mile of road edge by erecting a new fence and replanting native species along the road.
The men provide invaluable logistical assistance in the field for our rangers and our expanding research staff as we are in the process of developing land management plans for each our properties that the maintenance group will put into place. These new plans will best suit the ecological needs of the properties we protect. It is a daily assortment of routine operational duties and an incorporation of our scientific requirements, which makes the work interesting but challenging for the maintenance crew. Once again, the team has done a fine job overseeing the Foundation’s 8,900 acres.