To the Editor:
Certain areas of Chappaquiddick’s Leland and Wasque beaches, renowned for their amazing surf fishing, are now closed to oversand vehicles at 5 pm by the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR). The reason behind this decision is to safeguard oystercatcher chicks, a bird that is not considered a protected species.
Approximately 30 years ago, the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association (MVSA) initiated a courtesy patrol to assist TTOR in managing the beaches by informing over-sand vehicle (OSV) users of the rules put into place to protect the piping plovers. This patrol would also offer assistance to vehicles stuck in the sand, promptly call for help when necessary, and ensure that all dogs were leashed, and that people respected restricted areas.
During a meeting with the community in November 2022, TTOR leadership stated they would not close the beaches for nonprotected species, including oystercatchers, and instead pledged to safeguard the birds’ chicks by placing protective cages around them. However, they are now reneging on their promise, and imposing beach closures for the nonprotected species. TTOR management claims to be abiding by the shorebird and OSV guidelines, but it appears when regulations don’t meet their wishes, the TTOR changes what they want. These regulations are not guidelines, and can’t be changed without due process, therefore TTOR management is stepping way out of bounds making these amendments.
The executive committee of the MVSA has chosen to withdraw its assistance with the courtesy patrol due to TTOR’s change in rules and lack of genuine collaboration with the fishermen and overall beachgoing community.
While TTOR’s leadership has let down the responsible users of Leland and Wasque, it is important we recognize the hard work of TTOR staff who manage the beach and support access to these transformational properties. From the MVSA to the staff we say, THANK YOU!
Donald Scarpone, president
Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association