Sheriff’s Meadow would link properties to neighborhood fundraising

Sheriff's Meadow president John Schaefer welcomed the Foundation's supporters to its annual summer fundraiser Monday night. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF), Martha’s Vineyard’s largest private land trust, held its annual summer benefit on Monday on the immaculate grounds of the Giordano family’s home on Pease’s Point Way in Edgartown.

The setting, close to the namesake meadow that spurred the birth in 1959 of the foundation, provided added significance as Adam Moore, SMF executive director, described an ambitious ten-year strategic plan to continue saving land through an enhanced conservation and stewardship program.

Mr. Moore, a Yale-trained forester, said that over the next ten years Sheriff’s Meadow would look to grow operating revenues by about eight percent annually and double its endowment.

“One way we hope to bolster our financial support is to marry stewardship projects with opportunities to increase our endowment,” he said. “On that note, I am delighted to inform you that Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation plans to restore the Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary.”

The foundation of this plan and others to follow, as Mr. Moore described, rests in part on asking for the support of neighboring residents, people who are often intimately familiar with the beauty of specific properties.

Mr. Moore described the Foundation’s plans for the nearby 20-acre Sheriff’s Meadow sanctuary off Planting Field Way.

“Under the plan, we will replace boardwalks with those with a more secure footing, and we will use naturally rot-resistant lumber wherever possible. We will restore meadows and reward the walker with water views from various vantage points along the trail. We will remove invasive plants and tend to the forested portions of the preserve. The result will be a Sanctuary that is more welcoming, more enjoyable, more ecologically sound, and an even greater community asset.”

He estimated the work would cost $250,000 to complete, and require an endowment of $250,000 to maintain the land.

“Tonight, I am pleased to announce that, through the generous support of several neighborhood families, people who love the Sanctuary and for whom the Sanctuary plays a role in their daily life, we have raised over $300,000 toward our goal,” he said to applause.

In his remarks Monday night, Mr. Moore focused on the mission of Sheriff’s Meadow, the Vineyard’s largest private land trust, owner of 2,000 acres of land and conservation restrictions over an additional 850 acres.

“If you are a land trust, your job is to save land,” he said. “But what does it mean to save land? I think that that question is the critical one.”

In answering the question, Mr. Moore said that ownership is only the beginning. The critical, second part of saving land, he said, is the stewardship of that land.

He said that includes the need to create new trails and maintain old ones, maintain the integrity of the properties against all types of encroachment, and strengthen the connections between the Foundation’s lands and the community.

“We also want to create an education program, under which local schools will find our properties as educational resources,” Mr. Moore, the father of four, said. “I find that children really remember experiences that they have had outdoors.”

A threat of serious thunderstorms that never materialized and a sprinkle of rain did little to dampen the elegance of the evening. Foundation supporters in summer finery chatted under the soft glow of paper lanterns suspended from the roof of a large tent.

Several years ago the Foundation did away with the keynote speaker. This summer the decision was made to have no entertainment other than the background music of Ballyhoo.

Mr. Moore said the board came to the realization that people prefer to talk and socialize at the summer banquet. And on Monday evening they did both.

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