Make Nomans for the birds

To the Editor: 

Unless the Navy were to commit to a ‘whatever it costs’ budget, there is zero likelihood Nomans Land island will have a second life other than “The Mother Lode of UXO” that it is. The best place for UXO remaining at Nomans is exactly where it lays, in the muck and mire of a corrosive salt water environment on an island void of human presence. I opt for the $0.00 option.   

But, if there is an opportunity to add a fourth option for Nomans I’d suggest one that sits above the $0.00 yet far below the $11M option. The fourth option could be to re-designate Nomans a wildlife sanctuary specifically for Least terns, Roseate terns, piping plovers and other threatened and endangered Massachusetts resident shorebird populations. The Navy could enter proactive arrangements with federal and state agencies along with private conservation and wildlife organizations to relocate Massachusetts’ resident birds to Nomans. 

On Cape Cod, Nantucket and here on Martha’s Vineyard the local economies have been measurably harmed by the shutdown of coastal amenities during peak summer season due to federal and state guidelines to accommodate endangered and threatened shorebirds. On Martha’s Vineyard they are principally Least terns, Roseate terns and piping plovers. 

By designating Nomans Land a shorebird sanctuary along with granting permission for appropriate authorities to populate Nomans with Massachusetts’ resident endangered birds, Nomans would serve as an important wildlife refuge by its remote offshore location coupled with the forbidding presence of UXO; a perfect formula for protecting the foraging, nesting and fledging of endangered and threatened birds. Relocating these birds from harm’s way to Nomans should increase breeding success and decrease mortality by being away from humans, pesticides, herbicides and, after a program of depredation, ravaging skunks, racoon, egg eating crows and seagulls. As the birds are migratory, they will return to Nomans’ safe sanctuary year after year. 

Moreover, moving the nests to Nomans would be a boon for the Massachusetts economy.  The shutdown of coastal recreational amenities, shell & surf fishing and beaches resulting in the loss of tourist revenue and causing disruption in the lives of local residents who use and enjoy shoreline amenities and coastal resources would be a thing of the past.   

Conclusion: There is no need to clean up UXO if Nomans is designated a Sanctuary for Endangered Shorebirds. The people of Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard will help foster the political climate to create this sanctuary because doing so will protect the birds and protect hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into the Massachusetts economy once our shorelines are reopened. 

Victor Colantonio