Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Enjoy the Island's Public Conservation Lands

A message from the All-Island Trails Committee and TrailsMV

Shorebirds are nesting now on island beaches!

Please keep dogs leashed.

Dogs (even when well-behaved) pose a serious threat to the survival and success of endangered beach-nesting birds, so it is critical that dog owners respect local laws that restrict or prohibit the presence of dogs on beaches.  Follow these guidelines to keep beach habitat and birds safe:

• Always keep dogs leashed and under control.
• Walk dogs at the water’s edge, away from nesting areas.
• Mind all fencing (twine and post) that delineates habitat and feeding areas. Even if you don’t see the birds, they may be camouflaged or hiding in the dune grass.
• Carry in – carry home. Trash left behind on the beach attracts predators.
• Abide by property, town, county, and state regulations.
• Become an advocate for the protection of endangered shorebirds.

Please note: Several properties, such as Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary and Polly Hill Arboretum, do not allow dogs at all. Please check ahead to make sure dogs are allowed at the property you plan to visit.

Piping plover photo by Lanny McDowell.

TrailsMV is a free app created by Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation for those who love exploring the Vineyard’s trails. It covers all Island conservation properties open to the public, including 200+ miles of trails. It features:

• Up-to-date accurate maps of all the open-to-the-public trails.
• Detailed property information and photographs.
• Outings describing special walks or rides.
• Ability to pinpoint your location and show you the direction you are headed.
• Helps you explore with confidence.
• Works without cell service or WIFI.
• Information about interesting events.
• Conservation organization information.

Download free from the App Store or Google Play.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury – Kate Warner

Important Changes at Some Island Properties

The Island’s conservation groups continue to manage their properties differently from past years to help ensure public safety as the coronavirus pandemic wanes. Please read these rules carefully and contact the individual organization if you have any questions or concerns. 

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary / Mass Audubon
Trails through the woods and along Sengekontacket Pond at Felix Neck Sanctuary are open, with the following rules in effect for everyone:

• Wear masks or other face covering if other visitors are nearby.
• Keep a distance of six feet or more from other visitors and staff.
• Carry in, carry out. Leave no trash behind.
• Nature Play areas are open after 3p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.
• Restrooms and water fountains are closed.
• Do not gather in groups of people outside of your household.
• Remain on the trails at all times to protect plants, animals, and yourself.
• Dogs are NOT allowed anywhere on the sanctuary.
• Bicycles may use the entrance trail leading to the sanctuary, but no bikes are allowed on the interior trails.
Programs for children, families and adults

Polly Hill Arboretum
Enjoy nature while keeping safe as you explore this horticultural and botanical landmark property in West Tisbury.

• We invite you to visit our grounds but ask that you please wear a mask and keep six feet between yourself and other visitors.
• Our grounds remain open from dawn to dusk. However, all buildings are closed to the general public and delivery companies.
• Our public bathrooms are closed for the time being.
• Please note: Periodically our grounds will be closed during the day to allow maintenance activities to proceed unimpeded. Notification of this will be found at our entryway and also posted on our website.
• Check our website for info on tours, safe outdoor activities, and upcoming virtual classes and lectures.
• Dogs are not allowed at the Arboretum.
• Please do not climb trees or go into planting beds, to avoid damage to our plants.

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Guidelines for Sheriff’s Meadow’s 22 protected sanctuaries:

• Be considerate of others on the trail, and maintain social distancing.
• No gatherings of more than 5 people, except for families or households.
• Alert others to your presence as you approach blind spots.
• Wait for others to cross bridges and narrow spots before you do. Please leave plenty of passing space.
• Leash all dogs at all times. Please pick up and remove your dog’s waste.

The Trustees of Reservations 
The Trustees asks that visitors follow these guidelines for the health and safety of all, and to help keep properties open in these challenging times:

• Wear a face covering at all times if over the age of two, unless a medical reason prevents you from doing so safely.
• Stay at least six feet from other visitors, including stepping aside on the trail to let others pass.
• Please keep  dogs leashed and away from other visitors  at all times.
• If a parking area is full,  please come back at a less busy time.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge

  • Bring and wear a face covering for all visitors above the age of two.
  • Groups are limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Beachgoers are required to maintain a 12-foot gap between their group and the next group on the ocean and pond beaches.
  • Long Point’s restrooms and visitors center are closed until further notice.
  • Dogs, horses, and other pets are prohibited at Long Point year-round.

Visitors to Wasque Reservation are required, as at all our properties, to wear face coverings when walking to and from the parking area and along our boardwalks and trails. On the beach, they are required to social distance and wear face coverings when social distancing of 6-12’ cannot be maintained.

Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank
A reminder to the public to practice social distancing, maintaining a minimum of six feet when in proximity of others, particularly at trailheads, parking areas, and when passing others on the trail. In addition, please make an extra effort to HAVE YOUR DOG ON A LEASH AT ALL TIMES to limit the potential of close contact with others.

The Land Bank has issued beach use guidelines for its properties that have bathing beaches. Land Bank staff regularly tests water quality as per state DPH at these bathing beaches.

  • Moshup Beach (Part of Aquinnah Headlands)
  • Great Rock Bight
  • Chilmark Pond Preserve (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 
  • Chappy Point
  • Edgartown Great Pond Beach (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 
  • Hillman’s Point 
  • Wilfred’s Pond Preserve 
  • Tashmoo Preserve 
  • Tisbury Great Pond Beach (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 

Land Bank beach use guidelines:

  • Practice social distancing and maintain a minimum of 6 feet from others on trails, at trailhead parking, and on beach access pathways.
  • Loading and unloading times for people and personal items should be limited as much as possible. 

Land Bank boat user guidelines for Sepiessa Point Reservation boat launch: 

  • All boat ramp and canoe launch users shall practice social distancing. Users should allow appropriate space for users of the boat ramp or launch and clear the ramp immediately when their launch is complete.
  •  Users should ensure they are ready to depart quickly from the ramp or dock as soon as their boat is put into the water. Users not actively launching their boat should clear the launch area.
  • Upon return to ramp, users should load their boat as quickly as safely possible and then clear the launch area.
  • Use of ramps for organized fishing tournaments, derbies, or any other type of gathering is prohibited.
  • Loitering on ramps or use of ramps for any activity other than launching boats is prohibited.
  • Parking at ramps for activities other than launching boats is prohibited.
  • Masks or face-coverings should be worn in public in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s advisory when social distancing is not possible.
  • Only persons from the same household should be together on a boat at one time.
  • No gathering or groups of persons from multiple households will be permitted on boat ramps and all users shall practice strict social distancing.
  • All recreational crafts shall remain a safe distance apart. Tying boats or other crafts together is prohibited.
  • All recreational boating is subject to the discretion of local officials, harbormasters, and law enforcement. 
  • Boaters may only land at the Land Bank’s Tisbury Great Pond Beach and not at other locations on the pond, which are on private land. Tisbury Great Pond Beach is several hundred yards east of the current cut and is marked with an orange buoy.

Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
The state forest’s 5,300 acres and many miles of trails at the heart of Martha’s Vineyard are open subject to these guidelines and CDC safety precautions:

• Minimize outdoor recreational time to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.
• Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people.
• Practice social distancing of at least six feet between individuals.
• Administer healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds.
• Participate in only non-contact recreational activities.
• Leave a park or area should large gatherings begin to build.
• Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population.

The All-Island Trails Committee is comprised of the following nonprofit and government organizations, working together to help protect and preserve the rich natural heritage of Martha's Vineyard. For more information, please visit their websites.

Polly Hill Arboretum

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation

The Trustees of Reservations

Vineyard Conservation Society

Vineyard Open Land Foundation

In collaboration with the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury

Photographs courtesy of TrailsMV, with thanks to Stephen Chapman, Lanny McDowell, Max Skjoldebrand, Anne Speakman, Nancy Tutko, Kate Warner, Suzanne Warren, and Isabella Youmans.