A walk on the south side
Sheriff's Meadow Foundation (SMF) has been conserving property on Martha's Vineyard for the last 50 years. To celebrate, they are having many events this year, one being a series of monthly walks on their properties. Last Saturday, approximately 20 hikers gathered on three abutting properties in Chilmark that were acquired by SMF in the 1970s and 80s and are not usually open to the public - Priscilla Hancock Meadow, Wade's Field, and the Tipson lot.
Kristen Fauteux, SMF director of land stewardship, led us along acres of flat outwash plain that was burned a few weeks ago as part of their land management plan. These carefully managed, controlled burns are a measure used for regeneration and habitat preservation and are done on a rotating basis. The Tipson lot, which stretches along a finger of Chilmark Pond, is used as a control lot and is only mowed, not burned.
We passed a dense tangle of five-foot-tall poison ivy bushes, also not in the burn plan. Ms. Fauteux said it's dangerous to burn because breathing the smoke can be fatal.
The property is host to a number of native species such as chokecherry, black cherry, high bush blueberry, and Nantucket shadbush, an endangered species now found predominately here and on Nantucket. We were on the lookout for a Northern Harrier and although we didn't see one, Ms. Fauteux said some of the dense undergrowth we passed was an ideal habitat for the hawk.
The next SMF walk takes place at Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary in West Tisbury on June 26.