The Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s properties–shown on its Properties Map or posted with the Foundation’s identifying signs–are protected for scientific, educational, and conservation purposes. They are open to the public only for such recreational or other activities that are compatible with the properties’ sensitive natural systems. The Foundation is partial to pedestrians (their intrusions being least damaging) and encourages fishing, surfcasting, shellfishing (by properly licensed individuals), picnicking, scientific research, nature study, bird watching, hiking, and scenic viewing.

Property Use Etiquette

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s properties are privately owned conservation lands that are open to the public from sunrise to sunset. We encourage the responsible use of these areas for passive recreation. Access is contingent upon compliance with the following “rules of etiquette” that have been developed to ensure safe and enjoyable experiences for members of the public that visit and enjoy the Foundation’s properties.

Group Size: Groups must be limited to no more than 15 people.

Leave No Trace: The Foundation’s conservation properties are used and enjoyed by many people on a year-round basis. In order for all visitors to have the best possible experience, we ask that you leave the site exactly the way it was when you arrived.

  • Pack out what you bring in (including food wrappers, napkins, tissues, water bottles, etc.).
  • Do not leave any picnic leftovers - although biodegradable, they attract rats and other scavengers.
  • Do not move or remove anything (including rocks) or cut vegetation, including trees, branches, plants, leaves, flowers, moss or lichens- living or dead.
  • No digging holes or disturbing soil anywhere except the beach. Please fill in holes at the beach before you leave.
  • At properties where trail maps are provided, please take only one per group. If you have no further use for it, return it to the box when you are finished or dispose of it properly.
  • No fort/teepee/lean-to/hut building.
  • You can help us out by carrying out and disposing of any litter you find!

Protection of Natural Resources: Nantucket has unique habitats and species, many of which are quite rare. Visitors to our properties enjoy observing and learning about these natural resources. Their protection is a high conservation priority for the Foundation.

  • Stay out of vernal pools, cranberry bogs, marshes and other wetlands.
  • Do not carve on or peel bark off trees.
  • Stay out of areas fenced or posted to protect wildlife (nesting shorebirds, osprey nesting poles, etc.).
  • Do not disturb or harass wildlife (nesting turtles, salamanders, snakes, shorebirds resting on the beach, horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs, etc.).
  • Stay off sand dunes and coastal bluffs to protect plants that anchor the sand in place and help prevent erosion.

Safety and Sharing the Property with Other Visitors: During the peak summer months, there are many people that want to get out and explore the Foundation’s properties. Everyone has a right to enjoy these areas safely and without being disturbed by other visitors.

  • None of the Foundation’s beaches are life-guarded. Swimming is “at your own risk.” Many beaches, especially the south and eastern shoreline of the island, have high surf and undertow can cause dangerous rip currents. Children should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Well-behaved dogs under the control of their owners are welcome unless otherwise posted to protect nesting shorebirds. Please clean up after your dog and respect other dog owners using the property.
  • Do not carve or deface benches, signs, posts, etc.
  • Bicycles should be parked away from property entrances and trails so that they do not block the access of others.
  • Bicycle riders must always stay on designated trails or roadways. Pedestrians and vehicles always have the right of way and should be yielded to by bikers. Biking at excessive racing speeds is not allowed.
  • Vehicles must park in designated parking areas only. Do not park on the grass or other vegetation.
  • If Foundation staff are encountered mowing trails or performing other property maintenance tasks, stay a safe distance away from operating machinery.

Scientific Research and Other Property Uses: The Foundation’s properties are used extensively for scientific research by its Science and Stewardship Department staff and other researchers. Cranberry cultivation also takes place at the Milestone and Windswept Bogs. There may be equipment present on our properties that is sensitive to disturbance.

  • Do not touch or remove any surveyors flags, flagging or scientific equipment encountered (acoustic monitoring devices, remote cameras, weather instrumentation, turtle traps, bat or bird mist nets, etc.).
  • Several properties may have “snake boards” deployed - plywood covers lying flat on the ground to provide a refuge for snakes and allow for ease in capture for study. Please do not pick these up looking for snakes or otherwise disturb them, as it will bias the data being collected.
  • Ongoing research into population trends of the American burying beetle (a federally endangered species) takes place on several Foundation properties during the summer. Traps for beetles consist of pitfall traps (jars buried flush to the soil surface) covered with tin pie plates (rain covers). Do not approach or disturb these traps if encountered.
  • Do not touch or disturb any bog operation equipment and/or materials stored on the Milestone and Windswept Cranberry Bog properties.

Thank you for your compliance with these rules of etiquette. We hope that you have many safe and enjoyable experiences visiting the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s properties!

Tick Awareness

Despite the Foundation’s continued efforts to preserve the Island’s character and keep its properties safe, the deer tick is found island-wide. Deer ticks have been proven to transmit bacterial infections to humans, most notably Lyme disease. The best defense against these tiny but potentially harmful creatures is to thoroughly understand the potential problems that they can cause and how to deal with them.

Deer Ticks

Ticks are not insects, but crawling, wingless, arachnids, closely related to spiders. At all stages of its life, the deer tick is considerably smaller than the more conspicuous American dog tick. Deer ticks, found in coastal areas from Virginia through Massachusetts, are most abundant along the edges of wooded areas and feed on various animals, including mice, birds, deer, dogs, and occasionally humans.


When you are outside be on the lookout for the tiny deer ticks on your body or clothes. You should also check yourself thoroughly when you get home. It takes time for a tick to attach itself to your skin. Ticks roam, generally migrating upward. Larvae and nymphs live near the ground so check your ankles and legs. Adults are commonly found clinging to plants at about waist height, so carefully examine your waistline, groin area, arms, back, neck, and scalp.

Being Bitten

When first bitten by a deer tick, there is usually no pain or reaction. Because of its small size, the deer tick’s presence generally goes undetected. In most cases it bites, draws blood, and drops off. With vigilance and because an infected tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours to transmit the bacteria, known as a spirochete, only a small percentage of tick bites result in Lyme Disease.

Removing Attached Ticks

The recommended way to remove attached ticks is to use small, pointed tweezers. Grasp, but do not squeeze, the tick where its mouth parts enter the skin and tug gently, but firmly. Sometimes, the barbed mouth parts of the tick will not let go, but be persistent and remove as much of the tick as you can. Place the tick in a container that is marked with the date, the body location of the bite, and where you think you were when the tick climbed onto you. Your doctor may find this information extremely helpful for an accurate diagnosis if symptoms of Lyme Disease appear. After the tick has been removed, disinfect the site of the bite by wiping it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol.

Lyme Disease and Other Tick Borne Diseases

Lyme Disease (named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where it was originally reported) is a bacterial infection resulting from the bite of a deer tick. The disease affects both sexes, all age groups, and can be transmitted year-round. It often starts as an expanding ring-like rash and can, if untreated, develop into a chronic disease that includes arthritis and damage to various nerves. When diagnosed early, the disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Indications of Early Lyme Disease

The most common early symptom of the disease is a red rash, appearing at the bite location or as a secondary rash appearing elsewhere. This generally happens about two weeks after the tick has finished feeding and has detached itself. (Surprisingly, only about half of infected individuals ever remember seeing a rash.) As the spirochetes multiply, the rash may develop into a reddish ring about the size of a silver dollar, sometimes expanding to cover an area as wide as the patient’s body with a bull’s-eye-like configuration. It is painless, can feel warm to the touch, and blanches when pressure is applied. If left untreated, the rash may expand for several weeks, and then fade away.

Typically, within a week or two of being bitten by an infected deer tick, Lyme Disease causes mild flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, chills, stiff neck, aches and pains, sore throat, or headaches). Individuals who have had a deer tick bite accompanied by a rash or flu symptoms should promptly consult a physician since medical attention during its primary stages can put a quick end to Lyme Disease.

Symptoms of the Advanced Disease

After the illness has become chronic–weeks to several months following the bite–signs of the untreated disease can include problems involving the heart, joints, or nervous system. Also, such symptoms may include dizziness, weakness, and an irregular heartbeat. Nervous system problems are characterized by intermittent headaches, difficulty in concentrating and sleeping, irritability, and poor coordination. Some people develop weakness of facial and other muscles.

If left untreated, symptoms may also include joint pain and swelling. The pain may occur in a single joint (most commonly in the knees), go away after a few days to a few weeks, and reappear elsewhere. During this stage, the disease can be easily misdiagnosed as arthritis. Though movement can be extremely painful, usually any damage done to cartilage or bone is reversible. The disease can be readily treated, even at this stage.

After many years–a decade or more following infection–Lyme Disease can severely damage the brain and other nervous tissues, sometimes mimicking Alzheimer’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis. Recurring episodes of arthritis may result in erosion of the cartilage of the joints of the long bones. Medical treatment this late in the disease is difficult and may not be successful.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Lyme Disease is frequently difficult for physicians to diagnose because its symptoms can occur in such varied combinations. In some people, the tell-tale rash never appears. Other people who do not experience a rash or neurological problems may have joint swelling and pain as their first symptoms. However, with medical research has come the development of a special blood test that identifies antibodies produced by the body’s immune system as it defends against the multiplying spirochetes.

A test is also available to confirm whether or not a tick is carrying the Lyme Disease spirochetes. So if you have the tick that bit you, tell your doctor. Knowing that a person has been bitten by a deer tick, doctors (in areas where Lyme Disease is well-established) may elect to initiate treatment without waiting for laboratory confirmation. In such situations, a doctor’s decision to initiate treatment depends on an examination of the physical evidence, symptoms, and the patient’s recollections.


This microscopic parasite reproduces within the deer tick and is capable of entering the blood stream of any warm-blooded creature bitten by an infected tick – including humans. Once in the blood, the parasite quickly multiplies within red blood cells, causing them to burst. The disease is characterized by malaria-like symptoms, including fevers, sweats, chills, and enlarged liver and spleen, loss of appetite, and an extremely low red blood cell count. Babesiosis is potentially fatal. However, when properly diagnosed by a blood test, it is treatable with medication. Severe cases can require hospitalization and more aggressive treatment.

People who do not have a spleen or have other immunological deficiencies should exercise great caution while on the Island or in any other area where Babesiosis is known to occur.


HE (Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis) – is another tick borne disease transmitted by deer ticks. HGE is treatable with antibiotics during its early stages. Initial symptoms can include fever, chills, severe headaches, and confusion. Patients can also have a cough, joint pain, and a rash. Symptomatically, it can mimic leukemia. During later stages, HE can severely weaken the body, making it susceptible to life-threatening complications. Blood tests are able to reveal the presence of HGE which must be promptly diagnosed and treated.

General Regulations

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust founded in 1963 to permanently conserve, maintain and manage natural areas on the Nantucket Island. Foundation owned properties are open to the public. To protect each property and to assure the safety and enjoyment of visitors, all persons using Foundation properties shall comply with the following regulations:

  1. Disturbing birds or other wildlife is prohibited. The Foundation manages its properties to protect the rare and remote habitats required by many species of wildlife.
  2. Cutting or removing plants or disturbing soils is prohibited. Plant material–whether living or dead–helps to stabilize the Island’s shallow topsoil and prevent erosion.
  3. Entering fenced or posted areas intended to protect visitors, sensitive plant features or wildlife habitat is prohibited.
  4. Overnight camping or parking is prohibited.
  5. Cooking fires are allowed – but only on open beaches and in compliance with Nantucket Fire Department regulations. Fires are strictly limited to gas camp stoves or self-contained charcoal grills. Please be thoughtful and very careful when disposing of charcoal. All other fires or fireworks are prohibited.
  6. Littering is prohibited. Please take your trash with you.
  7. To protect birds and other wildlife, dogs and other pets must be leashed or be under the control of their owner at all times, and leashed when in the vicinity of nesting shorebirds and their chicks. Dogs are prohibited on the Foundation’s Coatue and Haulover properties between April 1st and September 15th. Please note that the Town of Nantucket has an island-wide Leash Law in effect.
  8. Commercial activities–providing any service, product, or activity for which a fee is charged–are prohibited on all Foundation properties unless in connection with a Foundation fundraising event.
  9. Removing, altering, defacing, or otherwise causing damage to any natural or historic feature, sign, fence, post or other such Foundation building or structure is prohibited.
  10. Conduct violating any federal, state, or local law or disturbing the tranquility of Foundation properties or their enjoyment by others is prohibited.
  11. The Foundation reserves the right to prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages on its properties.
  12. Foundation properties close at sunset. Unless otherwise specifically indicated, entering or remaining on Foundation properties between sunset and sunrise is prohibited.
  13. Foundation properties that contain beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards. Changing and restroom facilities are not provided. While such beach properties are open to the public for other purposes as set forth above, those choosing to enter onto the beaches or into the water do so at their own risk. WARNING: extremely dangerous current and riptide conditions can be present all around the Island. Visitors are urged not to go swimming unless they are at a lifeguarded public beach.
  14. Any use of the Foundation’s properties by groups of more than 10 people is subject to a required review by the Foundation’s staff and/or Land Management Committee. To be considered, the Foundation must receive a written request from the group’s authorized representative not less than 30 days prior to the proposed use. A decision to approve, approve with conditions, or turn down the request will be made within 15 days. Failure to respond to a request within 15 days shall be deemed a denial, not an approval. All other group use is prohibited.
Non-motorized Use Regulations
  1. All non-pedestrian/non-motorized use (horseback riding, mountain biking, etc.) of Foundation properties is restricted to roadways and trails established and maintained by the Foundation.
  2. Unauthorized group riding by more than 10 people is discouraged because it poses a threat to the safety and enjoyment of other visitors.
  3. Using roadways or trails closed by signs and/or the placement of an obstruction (i.e. gate, post, boulder, etc.) temporary or permanent, is prohibited.
  4. Access to the Milestone Cranberry Bog may be closed at certain times of the year due to agricultural activities.
  5. The Foundation reserves the right to prohibit the use of horses, mountain bikes, etc. on any of its properties at any time.
Motorized Vehicle Use Regulations

For the protection of the natural values of all Foundation properties and the safety and enjoyment of visitors, persons operating any motorized vehicle (regardless of its status under the law) or riding in or upon vehicles on Foundation property shall be in compliance with the following regulations at all times:

  1. Vehicle use is prohibited on certain Foundation properties. These sites are conspicuously gated and posted.
  2. Vehicles shall use only well-established roadways, thereby preventing damage to vegetation and reducing erosion.
  3. Some roads and beaches may be closed to protect fragile ecosystems and wildlife. Vehicles are prohibited on roadways closed by signs and/or the placement of an obstruction (i.e. gate, post, boulder, etc.).
  4. Vehicle operators shall be duly licensed and authorized by the vehicle’s owner. Vehicles shall be properly registered and insured for use on private property.
  5. Vehicular speed shall be reasonable and prudent at all times, but shall not exceed 15 MPH. Slow down when approaching pedestrians and obey all traffic control signs.
  6. Motorized dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, electric assisted scooters and bikes, and the like – regardless of their status under the law – are prohibited on Foundation-owned properties.
  7. For the safety of visitors, riding on fenders, tailgates, roofs, or any other position outside the vehicle is prohibited.
  8. Vehicles using Foundation properties are prohibited from towing skate boarders, water skiers, dune skiers, hang gliders, paragliders, or the like.
  9. Oversized or undersized vehicles whose width, track, or clearance, in the opinion of the Foundation’s management staff, would cause repeated damage by breaking down the edges and/or centers of established roadways are prohibited.
  10. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation reserves the right to impose limitations upon the number of vehicles permitted on its properties at any given time.
Beach Use and Four Wheel Drive Vehicle Regulations

In order to comply with federal and state guidelines regarding the protection of rare and endangered shorebirds, portions of the Foundation’s beachfront properties may be temporarily closed to pedestrians, dogs, and/or vehicles for extended periods of time between April 1st and September 15th when nesting and migrating shorebirds and their young are present. Additionally, many beach areas are permanently closed to vehicles due to high rates of erosion and to protect coastal wetland resource areas. These sites will be clearly posted and frequently patrolled. Entry into these areas is strictly prohibited.

In addition to the general motorized vehicle regulations listed above, the following regulations apply to all vehicles operated within Foundation beach areas where vehicle access is permitted:

  1. A current Oversand Vehicle Permit is required within Foundation-owned beach areas north of Wauwinet Village.
  2. Without exception, all vehicles operating on Foundation beaches shall be four-wheel drive and shall stay within designated roadways in order to prevent damage to dunes and fragile beach plants. Tire pressure must be adjusted to not more than 15 p.s.i. before driving on the beach.
  3. Vehicles exceeding 6,000 pounds gross–as well as dune buggies, motorcycles, mopeds, electric assisted scooters and bikes, mountain bikes, bicycles, trailers, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and cycles, ground-effect or air cushion vehicles, jet skis, and the like are prohibited. Such vehicles can jeopardize the fragile shoreline environment and can be a threat to the safety of property visitors.
  4. It is highly recommended that, for the safety and protection of visitors, each vehicle should contain a shovel, a vehicle jack, a 12″ x 12″ (minimum) piece of plywood to act as a jack support, a full-sized spare tire, a low pressure tire gauge, and a suitable towrope or chain of reasonable length (3/4″ by 20′ polypropylene rope is suggested as a minimum).
  5. When traveling on beaches, drivers must stay well away from the vegetated edge of all sand dunes and only drive within established tracks. Access from interior roadways to beaches is permitted only at locations marked by an orange triangular sign. Drivers are requested to avoid interior roadways after dark.
  6. Driving or parking on vegetation, sand dunes or in bird nesting areas is prohibited.
  7. Vehicles shall not drive or park so as to interfere with the flow of traffic.
  8. Ruts or holes caused by digging out stuck vehicles must be filled in and all debris removed.
Hunting Regulations
  1. Hunting by properly licensed hunters during Federal and State designated migratory waterfowl and upland game seasons is allowed on many Foundation properties.
  2. Properties closed to hunting are conspicuously posted. For a current list of properties where hunting is permitted and prohibited, see:
  3. Hunting is prohibited on posted properties that are used intensively by pedestrians throughout the year.
  4. Gun testing, target shooting and all non-hunting related firearm use are prohibited on all Foundation properties.
Aircraft Regulations

All aircraft, which in the case of this regulation also includes the use of unauthorized drones and other manned or unmanned aircraft systems, are prohibited from landing on, taking off from or flying above any Foundation property. By law, manned aircraft are required to maintain an altitude of 400 feet MSL or higher while operating above Foundation properties. In addition to violating Federal Regulations which prohibit the harassment of wildlife by aircraft, landings, takeoffs, and low-level overflights jeopardize the fragile ecosystems of the properties, are a risk to public safety and privacy, can endanger airport operations, and diminish the public’s quiet enjoyment of Foundation properties.

Additional Conditions

Visitors are welcome on all Foundation properties with the understanding that they use the areas at their own risk, respect the rights of private property owners within and abutting these areas, and comply with all published and posted regulations. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation cannot assume responsibility for injuries or for the loss, theft, or damage of personal property. Whoever disregards or violates any of these regulations is forbidden to remain on these premises and is subject to arrest, fine, and imprisonment as provided by law.

Efforts are made to establish and regularly review reasonable policies for uses that are appropriate to and compatible with the resources within a particular conservation area. While the Foundation endeavors to manage its properties under these general guidelines, there is no substitute for common courtesy when dealing with fellow visitors. Yours is earnestly solicited.

Notice: Limitation of Liability

Entry upon or use of any property of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Inc. (“the Foundation”) by any person shall constitute a release by such person of the Foundation, its agents, and servants from any and all claims for personal injuries, property loss, theft, or damage sustained upon Foundation property, and such release shall be binding upon such person, such person's personal representatives, and all persons claiming through or under such person.