Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation holds summer gala

The guests enjoyed dinner and music. — Photo by Sara Piazza

The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation Monday held its annual summer soiree under a tent on the spacious grounds of Ashakomaksett Farm, the home of Ellen and Edwin Harley in Edgartown. Annually, the event provides an opportunity for supporters to socialize and to hear how Martha’s Vineyard’s largest private conservation organization is doing and learn about new initiatives and purchases.

The news delivered by president John Schaefer and executive director Adam Moore delivered, the food prepared by Jan Burhman, and the music performed of Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, were all good.

Mr. Schaefer said the Foundation, which relies on none of the traditional fundraising events in favor of direct appeals to supporters, had exceeded its fundraising goals for the past year.

Mr. Moore said the Foundation, which owns more than 2,000 acres of conservation land and protects another 850 acres through conservation restrictions, continues to acquire land for conservation.

“Last fall, for example, Mrs. Virginia Mattern made available, for a bargain price of $100,000, her scenic hilltop land on Manaca Hill on Chappaquiddick,” Mr. Moore said in his prepared remarks. “We thought that this was a great opportunity and bought the property. We are now raising money to replenish the acquisition funds, fund the work required and endow the property. When all is done, there will be a public path with a smashing view that stretches from Katama Bay to Cape Poge.”

Mr. Moore also detailed the work of three new committees: “The agriculture committee will oversee our efforts to lease portions of our land to local farmers. The education committee will create a three-fold educational effort. This will consist of a formal school program, a guided walk series, and a speaker series. The formal program begins at Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, where we are creating a field-based, environmental education curriculum for school use. Now the trails committee holds no meetings. Instead, they hold monthly work parties and they have enrolled a number of volunteer trail monitors. Ultimately, we want to have a volunteer steward for each trail.”

Under new leadership in recent years, Sheriff’s Meadow has embarked on an effort to open more properties to the public. Mr. Moore referenced a new Sanctuary Guide provided to each guest. “The old guide described eight open properties,” he said. “The new guide describes 18. The guide will be mailed to every Island resident. And in the coming weeks, you will see handsome new entrance signs marking each one of these properties.”

Mr. Moore said there is more to come. “At Caroline Tuthill Preserve, we will open four new trails, and three of these will make direct connections to the bike path along Beach Road,” he said. “With the new trails, a kid who lives in the Boulevard neighborhood will be able to ride his bike to Bend-in-the-Road beach right through the Preserve, without having to pedal through the busy intersection at the Triangle. We are also working at Cedar Tree Neck, and we already have a new trail there, atop the bluffs, from which you can enjoy panoramic views of the Elizabeth Islands. For each of these properties we will be raising money to do the work and build the endowment.”

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Correction July 20: The print version of this story incorrectly identified the property owners last name as Hardy. It is Ellen and Edwin Harley.