More conservation is needed


To the Editor:

The M.V. Land Bank is charged with doing the valuable work of protecting our shared natural resources. That’s why we were dismayed to read last week’s MV Times editorial, suggesting that Land Bank revenue be diverted to help pay for infrastructure.

It’s worth remembering that in a very important sense, Land Bank is already “paying for” our infrastructure needs. Land Bank’s preservation work on behalf of all of us will lessen the coming infrastructure sticker shock caused by growth and development.

That’s because protecting undeveloped land reduces the need for future infrastructure expansion — sewage treatment, divided highways, traffic lights, schools, police, fire. That will save towns millions. It will also give us a fighting chance to save the defining attributes of a place that generations of residents and visitors have loved and invested in.

To do that, we need to intensify — not cripple — conservation efforts. By every measure, conservation efforts continue to fall far short of the need. Even with a Land Bank, the high price of real estate means that the rate of land development is outpacing preservation by a huge margin. Thousands more new houses, and thousands more guest houses, are permitted under current zoning. Most will not be built for the purpose of adding to our inventory of affordable units. It is the demand for second homes that both conservationists and our affordable housing colleagues compete against.

We are extremely fortunate that Land Bank can often compete for critical parcels that are beyond the ability of the private groups to secure. Future generations will rightly criticize us if we are not more aggressive in conserving more, not less land — now, while the opportunity remains.

We have an obligation to safeguard our natural assets — wildlife, water, farm soils, air quality — as well as to ensure a healthy and sustainable human community. Together, we can do both, but we must live within the limits of the land. We live on an Island, and by definition, islands have limits.


Brendan O’Neill
Vineyard Haven
The author is executive director of the Vineyard Conservation Society. –Ed.


  1. A straight forward statement of the case for exclusion of additional population on this island. Fine, but let’s lose the hypocrisy and stop trumpeting the virtues of unfettered immigration for the “islands” of other Americans. As for affordable housing – a lot more of it would have been and could be built absent the land gobbling of the LB and other “conservation” vehicles.

  2. It’s worth remembering that in a very important sense, in fact, in the ONLY sense, we the community of home buyers are PAYING FOR absolutely everything the LB gets to do.

    • Why do people want to buy on the Vineyard? Public services and consumables cost more. The Land Bank is tasked with preserving land before it’s developed.

      What will be the attraction if the preserves are developed and the Vineyard becomes part of Suburbia? Public services and consumables will continue to cost more, services likely overwhelmed, and access with the mainland still subject to weather. What attraction?

      • If your first question had read, “Why do people want to REMAIN” on the Vineyard?”, or “Why do islanders want their children to be able to remain on the Vineyard?”, you could begin to understand who has benefited from “preservation” and “conservation”, and who has not.

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