Wyss Foundation gives big to help realize Squibnocket Pond Reservation 

The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank and Sheriff's Meadow Foundation have purchased 304 acres in Aquinnah. - Photo courtesy Sheriff's Meadow Foundation

Sheriff’s Meadow, which recently teamed up with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank to buy and preserve a large tract of rare habitat from Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg, has received a $1 million matching grant from the Wyss Foundation to further the effort. The 304-acre preserve will be known as Squibnocket Pond Reservation. 

Sheriff’s Meadow executive director Adam Moore said the funds will help Sheriff’s Meadow cover its end of the $27 million deal to buy the acreage. To date, Moore said, Sheriff’s Meadow has raised approximately $10.4 million of the $12 million it will owe for the acquisition. The Land Bank will cover the other $15 million. A closing is set for Dec. 15, and Sheriff’s Meadow must tender part of its portion of the purchase price at that time, and the remainder over the next four years. “We’re in the home stretch,” he said. 

The benefit of preserving the land is not lost on Hansjörg Wyss, chairman of the Wyss Foundation. “To set foot on this property is to be transported to a time before roads and homes dotted Martha’s Vineyard,” he said through a release. Two years ago, according to the release, Wyss initiated the Wyss Campaign for Nature, “committing $1 billion to accelerate the pace and scale of conservation worldwide. ‘As a society, we have to commit ourselves to protecting more nature in the public trust so that everyone has a chance to experience and explore the great outdoors.’” 

Squibnocket Pond Reservation “will permanently safeguard an incredibly rare assemblage of land, wildlife, water, and oceanfront,” a release states. “The undisturbed lands and waters — which have been carefully managed by the [Kennedy family] for more than four decades now — provide habitat for a variety of rare, threatened, and federally protected species, including the Arethusa orchid and the northern harrier hawk. The conservation land will protect outstanding habitats, including moors, sand dunes, heathlands, forests, freshwater ponds, and forests. What’s more, the public will now have permanent access to a half-mile of Atlantic Ocean beach, a mile of shoreline along the Squibnocket Pond, and a network of trails.”

To make donations that will be matched by the Wyss Foundation, donors are encouraged to go to the Sheriff’s Meadow website at sheriffsmeadow.org/support-us/donate-online. “A gift of any size is welcome,” Moore said.