Saturday, September 18, 2021

Enjoy the Island's Public Conservation Lands

Important information 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 – including Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Polly Hill Arboretum, and Long Point Wildlife Refuge – 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.

It’s tick time in New England.

Summer is high season for ticks. Joining deer ticks and wood ticks out on the trails, meadows, beaches, and woodlands these days are lone star ticks, a relative newcomer with potentially serious consequences. Here’s how to avoid Lyme and other tick-related diseases:

  • Learn before you go – read about ticks and how to avoid them.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
  • Treat shoes, clothing, and gear with permethrin or an EPA-approved insect repellent. Follow application instructions carefully.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas, tall grass, beach dunes, and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of the trail away from vegetation.
  • Inspect yourself and companions carefully for ticks afterward.

An effective deterrent is permethrin, a pesticide that’s applied to clothes and shoes. You can buy it in liquid spray form to treat your own clothes, or buy clothing that’s factory pre-treated with permethrin, which lasts up to 70 washings. Tick-repellent gaiters help stop ticks from moving up your legs, as do permethrin-infused socks.

Island retailers selling permethrin clothing and sprays include Brickman’s and SBS in Vineyard Haven and Basics in Oak Bluffs.

Lone star tick photo by James Gathany, CDC. Information courtesy Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.

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

Continued 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
All trails at Felix Neck Sanctuary are open, with the following rules in effect for everyone:

  • Masks are optional outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries for general visitation and volunteer activities, but masks are still required for all indoor locations (restrooms, exhibit areas, nature centers, etc.).  We recommend having a mask on hand to be prepared.
  • If you are visiting a sanctuary for a program, please check your confirmation email for program-specific guidelines.
  • Carry in, carry out. Leave no trash behind.
  • Nature Play areas are open after 3pm and on weekends.
  • Restrooms and water fountains are open.
  • 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
Explore a horticultural and botanical landmark property in West Tisbury.

  • Our grounds are open dawn-dusk, excluding Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. We will be closed Wednesdays for maintenance during the 2021 season.
  • The PHA Visitor Center is open Thurs-Tues 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays) through mid-October.
  • Masks are optional on our grounds. We ask that visitors wear a mask inside the Visitor Center out of consideration for our volunteers and staff.
  • Dogs are not allowed at the Arboretum.
  • Please do not climb trees or go into planting beds, to avoid damage to our plants.
  • Check our website,, for info on tours, outdoor activities, and upcoming classes and lectures.

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Guidelines for our 22 protected sanctuaries across the Island:

  • Be considerate of others on the trail, and 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, and carry out waste.

The Trustees of Reservations 
The Trustees asks that visitors follow these guidelines for the health and safety of all, including wildlife:

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 Dogs, horses, and other pets are prohibited at Long Point year-round.
Menemsha Hills Reservation and the Brickyard Bicycles are not allowed on the trails at these locations.


Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank

The 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 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.
  • 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 in accordance with the following rules:

  • Stay on authorized trails and obey all trail closures.
  • Be courteous of other path users.
  • Respect private property next to the trail.
  • Carry in, carry out all trash and belongings.

Shared-use trail etiquette for bikers:

  • Keep right unless passing.
  • Stop at all stop signs.
  • Trails are open dawn to dusk. If you have appropriate lights, ride at your own risk.
  • Give a clear and audible signal before passing and pass only when it’s safe to.
  • Travel at a reasonable speed.
  • Wear protective headgear. This is required by law for children 16 years and younger, but recommended for all.

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.