More than 300 acres of land on Cuttyhunk Island, nearly half its total acreage, will be protected against future development and preserved as publicly accessible conservation land.
After two years of land-buying, the town of Gosnold and the Buzzards Bay Coalition have finished acquiring almost all the undeveloped land on the island north of Martha’s Vineyard, much of which had been placed on the market for potential development.
The groups worked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bouchard 120 Oil Spill Natural Resources Damages Trustee Council and 198 private donors to complete the $6.1 million acquisition.
“It became apparent that the land was being eyed by developers,” said Brendan Annett, vice president of watershed protection for the Buzzards Bay Coalition. “And if this land became privately owned and was redeveloped and the land use changed, the access to beaches and hills and trails… if those areas were developed it really would have been something significant lost.”
Now, coastal marsh, upland habitats, and barrier beaches like Barges Beach that represent five miles of Massachusetts coastline will be managed to "ensure these unique lands remain natural and are accessible to the public," according to a press release from the Buzzards Bay Coalition.
“It’s just really creating a unique environment for islanders, for visitors, for boaters, and we’re just thrilled,” said Gail Blout, head selectman for the town of Gosnold.
Blout added the island is still working to increase its year-round population of fewer than a dozen—despite less developable land—by improving internet service, among other efforts.
The project was driven, in part, by concerns about climate change, and how it will endanger the island.
“As sea level rises, you’re threatened with changes and loss of beaches, salt marshes, other coastal habitats,” Annett said.
“When you have protected land there’s more opportunity for natural habitats to be resilient.”