The Bird Sanctuary
The Foundation’s first property is also one of its smallest. Donated in 1963 by Frances Cook the 0.9 acre parcel on North Beach Street in town was given to the Foundation as a sanctuary for the songbirds and migratory birds that visit the area. Approximately ¼ from Main Street this less than an acre gift set the precedent which led to concerned Islanders donating roughly 6,650 acres of the Foundation’s total holding of 8,853 acres.
Visitors to the ‘Sconset Market at the eastern edge of the island are often surprised to see one of the Foundation’s cranberry colored property markers in the courtyard park near the store. While most people associate our property markers with wide open spaces and dramatic backgrounds, Larsen Park is one of the Foundation few “urban” properties. At 0.1 of an acre Larsen Park is the smallest of the Foundation’s properties but may get the most visitors during the summer months. This property was donated by the Larsen family who through the years have given over 1,650 acres to the Foundation.
This 13.6 acre parcel includes a fresh water pond and 800 feet of beachfront property on Nantucket Sound. Donated by Gilbert Verney in 1987, Capaum Pond is a popular destination for beach goers in the summer and is also important part of the ecosystem of this area off of Cliff Road. Both local shorebird and migratory birds use the area for breeding, feeding and as a stopover during the migratory periods. Richard Verney, Gilbert’s son, also served as the Foundation’s President from 1999-2008.
One of the Island’s most fragile wetland and marsh areas, Medouie Creek is also the focus of some of the Foundation’s most intense research efforts into helping restore the saltwater marshes in the Polpis Harbor region. Led by Ted Cross these 203 acres were donated by a consortium of neighbors concerned for the well-being for this pristine area. We’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. John P. Horgan, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Vollmer, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher M. Weld, John R. Weirdsma, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel R. Childs, A. Bliss McCrum, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Donal O’Brien and the Medouie Creek Association – for all of their efforts in not only helping us acquire this property but also in assisting our ongoing efforts to preserve the area.
Brant Point Marsh
Another in-town property less than ¼ of a mile from Main Street, this 5 acre parcel was donated by Mrs. William H. Clafin and Mrs. W.S. Archibald, Jr. in 1978 to help protect some of the last acres of open space in Brant Point. Located near the White Elephant Hotel, this wetland and marsh area adds a element of nature in an otherwise densely developed neighborhood.
The Foundation’s 104 acre property at The Haulover marks the entrance to the Coskata, Coatue and Great Point Wildlife Refuge. This fragile barrier beach located just north of Wauwinet Village shelters the northern end of Nantucket Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. The property derives its name from the historic practice of fishing boats being “hauled over” this thin strip of land from inside the harbor to access fishing grounds off the eastern shore of Nantucket, rather than having to travel the much longer and more treacherous journey through Nantucket Sound and around Great Point. Haulover Pond, located in the northeastern end of the property, contains a pristine salt marsh that provides important habitat for many species of migratory shorebirds and waterbirds.
Trots Hills, located along the southern side of the Madaket Road, is directly contiguous with protected conservation land owned by the Nantucket Islands Land Bank Commission to the south, east and north. This 77 acre Foundation-owned property contains vast expanses of sandplain heathland habitat, comprised of low growing shrubs interspersed with native grasses and wildflowers. The heathlands and pitch pine woodlands on the property are currently being managed by the Foundation through periodic brushcutting to reduce wildfire danger and perpetuate habitat for several species of rare plants, including the eastern silvery aster and Nantucket shadbush. The picturesque rolling hills in this area are the weathered remnants of glacially-deposited materials left behind when the last ice sheet reached its southernmost advance over 10,000 years ago.
The Sconset Dump
The Foundation owns 331 acres of permanently-protected conservation land at this site. The majority of the property contains forested wetlands and shrub swamps interspersed with pockets of upland shrub habitat. Common species present include black tupelo, sassafras, red maple, black oak, high bush blueberry, sweet pepperbush, swamp azalea, and scrub oak. A narrow, meandering stream known as Phillips Run traverses the western portion of the property, draining the wetlands associated with the Milestone Cranberry Bog on the northern side of the Milestone Road down to Tom Nevers Pond on the south shore of the island. Prior to NCF ownership, a small area in the eastern portion of the property was used as a local dump. A horseshoe-shaped bulldozer scrape semi-circumnavigating the dump location was created sometime during the mid-1900’s, which now forms the boundary of a unique, albeit man-made wetland. The damp, exposed mineral soils at this site provide favorable conditions for multiple species of rare and endangered plants, including Mattamuskeet panic-grass, beaked pinweed, Torrey’s beaksedge, subulate bladderwort, tall nut-sedge, thread-leaved sundew, and foxtail clubmoss.