As we get ready to celebrate the holidays and close out 2019, we would like to take a moment to commemorate the Foundation’s upcoming 56th anniversary. On December 28th in 1963, a group of Nantucketers met at the home of W. Ripley Nelson, who was then the President of the Nantucket Civic League. They came together to discuss the growing need for a conservation-minded, local non-profit to protect open space on the island. These forward-thinking individuals were concerned about the over-development taking place on Cape Cod and other coastal areas in New England, and had the foresight to do something to prevent this from happening on Nantucket before it was too late.

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s beginnings stemmed from this first meeting, which resulted in 9 original founders, 423 members and an initial acquisition of land from Mrs. Henry M. Cook – the Bird Sanctuary on North Beach Street. Just 0.9 acres in size, the Bird Sanctuary was donated in 1966, three years after the Foundation’s formation. This small plot was once landscaped as a private garden retreat, but it became overgrown with berry-producing shrubs that provided valuable habitat for birds. Today, the Foundation maintains it as a nature sanctuary where visitors can walk down the former garden path to a secluded area tucked within a densely-developed neighborhood on the outskirts of town.

Since this first donation of land, the Foundation has grown to become Nantucket’s largest landowner, with over 9,010 acres protected- proof that a small start can lead to great things! The Foundation now owns many important tracts of land that, had they been developed, would have significantly altered the rural character and natural beauty of the Island as we know it today. These areas are currently used and enjoyed by the public for education and passive recreation purposes while also providing important habitat for many rare species and plant communities. All of this was made possible by our humble beginnings in December, 1963 — followed by the support of thousands of members over the past 56 years. Our staff and Board of Trustees are grateful to our supporters and proud of all that has been accomplished. We look forward to continuing and expanding upon our important work in the years ahead.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!!

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust that depends on contributions from our members to support our science projects, conservation property acquisitions and land management efforts. If you are not already a member, please join us now!