Neighbors push back against Quenomica Preserve management plan

The Edgartown Land Bank advisory board will meet again on April 18.

A map of Quenomica Preserve in the draft management plan.

Abutters of Quenomica Preserve in Edgartown are opposing a draft management plan for the property that would allow hunting. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and Edgartown Land Bank advisory board are considering the plan, but took no action after a contentious hearing this week. Members plan to take public comments under review before deliberating.

Land Bank ecologist Julie Russell and land superintendent Harrison Kisiel presented a 139-page management plan on Monday, providing an overview of the area’s ecology and how the property, trails and parking will be managed. Plans include two vehicle trailheads and a duck hunting blind as well.

The Land Bank reviewed allowances and prohibitions on the property at the Monday hearing, such as not allowing dogs, limiting horses to the northern section of the property, and allowing star gazers. 

During the public’s turn to speak, it was clear that while abutters appreciated the Land Bank’s conservation mission, they were not pleased with the proposed management plan. 

“Even though the Land Bank is really just known for its walking trails, this plan seems to throw everything possible into it,” Mitch Rubin said.

Several abutters also said the Land Bank was not listening to them regarding the plan. 

“We, collectively, should be good neighbors and what we’re hearing, at least from my part, from the Land Bank, is kind of a disregard of our concerns,” David Blass said. 

Abutters’ shared several similar concerns – like the impact of horses in the area and overall management issues – but hunting was most frequently brought up. Nearby residents were concerned about the risk of injury from a stray bullet or arrow, and that hunters might trespass onto their properties.. 

“We are against any form of hunting, including gun hunting of ducks and bow and arrow of any species,” abutter Alan Muney said. “The reasons are simple. Our grandkids use the property year round. There [are] existing laws you point out that disallows hunting within 500 feet of a private home. However, we highly doubt anyone is going to enforce that law and even if they did, it would not prevent the potential of serious or fatal accidents from stray gun blasts or bow shots coming into our property.” 

A few abutters also mentioned how the proximity and sound of gunshots could affect their children and grandchildren in terms of safety and mental health. They were worried about the stress from possible gunshots in the area considering the recent increase in school shootings in the country.

“Wounded animals entering onto a property can injure or kill people on those properties,” Jason Fleischer said. “We have young children. The idea that our children could not be outside anytime between October and December because somebody could be hunting and it could potentially come out of nowhere … that is highly [problematic].” 

Fleischer’s daughter also came to the Zoom meeting to read a letter she wrote about what hunting means to her. She said hunting shouldn’t be allowed on Quenomica Preserve. Coming to Martha’s Vineyard gives her a break from the thought about potential school shootings occurring. 

Another complaint was the publicization of a private road. Abutters pointed out that some areas the Land Bank is planning to allow the public to access were meant to be reserved for private property owners in the area. 

“There are numerous existing easements as well as other laws — state, federal, and other agreements — that we think prohibit the Land Bank from engaging in the activity that it proposes,” Fleischer said. 

After the public hearing was closed, board member Donna Goodale said she felt they were not ready to make a decision on whether or not to approve the plan. The board unanimously voted to hold a separate meeting on Tuesday, April 18, to deliberate after further reviewing the plan and receiving a memo from Russell addressing concerns.


  1. This has to be one of the most ridiculous reasons for preventing hunting on land bank property. These transplant people with really no idea about the history of duck hunting and deer hunting on the island or the true understandings of hunting, especially with a bow. Killer deer attacking people. Killer ducks next? The land bank has always been professional in its management of hunting. I really can’t think of a worse NIMBY moment. Pathetic.

  2. The land bank’s management plan is anchored in facts and the public agency’s longstanding commitment to public use and the rural culture of Martha’s Vineyard. The comments of the objecting landowners, as reported in this story, reflect a disregard for hunting safety statistics, the public health impact of deer density, and the rich waterfowling history of Kanomika Point.
    The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reports that over the past four decades records have been kept, state-wide there have been three reports of non-hunters being injured in hunting accidents and no fatalities. I’m aware of three Island accidents in the past thirty years, all hunters injured during shotgun season in group situations. I’m aware of no accidents on land bank properties.
    State wildlife managers say the Island’s deer population is well above the optimum limit. Deer density is directly related to an increase in tick-borne diseases. Depending on the species of tick — deer tick, dog tick, lone star tick — the list includes Lyme, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus. The lone star tick, a recent arrival, is also responsible for alpha-gal syndrome, a recently identified red meat food allergy. Hunting is an important tool for reducing deer numbers.
    In the early part of the twentieth century, wealthy seasonal residents regularly visited the Island to enjoy quality sport hunting for geese and ducks. Hunting camps and duck blinds, most now replaced by luxury homes, overlooked the marshes and coves of salt ponds from Chappaquiddick to Gay Head.
    Islanders hunted to put food on the table and shot over wooden decoys carved on long winter evenings — bluebills, redheads, and black ducks mostly, according to the late West Tisbury artist Stan Murphy, author of Martha’s Vineyard Decoys, a gem of a book long out of print (1978, Godine).
    One day, while browsing the shelves of a used book store in Oak Bluffs, I came across “Duck Hunting” by John G. Mackenty (1953, A. S. Barnes) of Edgartown. The book provided much practical advice and a glimpse into the Island lifestyle in the fifties.
    Mr. MacKenty owned much of Kanomika Neck. A New Yorker by birth, he hunted nearly every day in season, and he enjoyed the companionship of Islanders.
    The first chapter is titled: Why Do We Go Duck Hunting? Answering his own question, Mr. MacKenty describes the “relaxation and anticipatory tension,” the “companionship,” and “the complete opportunity to be one with nature at the time of its most charming and delightful mood — dawn.”
    Mr. MacKenty took his choice of companions seriously. Referencing a technique for refining ore, he advised, “ … pick your gunning companion with the same care and forethought you would employ in selecting a business partner, except that in the testing, I suggest the employment of a finer mesh screen and a stronger acid.”
    I suspect Mr. MacKenty would not have been inclined to invite any of his new neighbors to share a duck blind.

  3. These people are joking, of course. They do not actually expect us to believe the words they’re uttering. All because they don’t want anybody else around their house. They got used to having no one around them and now they’re all upset that Someone might be having fun on it. These people live in multi million dollar homes and the whole point of the Land Bank is to allow the public to enjoy these properties that they could never afford if only for a brief afternoon.

  4. And herein lies the entire problem with the island
    400 continuous years of gun hunting 15 millenniums of bow hunting and now we should stop because people who just moved here perceive the island as a different place then it really is
    I feel for the child that is on edge over school shootings
    However she needs to learn out here a gun shot means someone is feeding their family the way we have for generations
    She might be comforted to know when I went to MV high school we brought our guns to school on the bus and checked them in with the principle so we could go hunting after school
    No school shootings just islanders livening the way they have for generations
    New comers have always been welcome but please don’t try and change us
    Be well

  5. Have these abuters done any homework into how safe and responsible hunters on MV have been? Though I am not a huge advocate of hunting, I do appreciate how culling is a necessity, also how hunting has decreased over the years so much so that I would guess that more people die or are maimed from car and moped accidents yearly on MV than by hunting mishaps.
    The state of MA, and island towns post when hunting season begins and ends yearly so to keep out of the woods. Also tacking up ‘No Hunting’ signs around the perimeter of ones property, keeps respectful hunters out of private property.

  6. This is where a responsible, informed and thoughtful group of hunters could do some really good work. the MV Hunt Club does do this and can help with wildlife management programs.
    We have worked with other non profits and land conservation groups to have a well balanced plan to mitigate deer population.

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