Took a walk over the Cox Reservation in Essex, MA on a beautiful Thursday.
Salt Island, Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA, is for sale. Unimproved and undeveloped, Salt Island is a natural monument, a beacon. For generations,the Island seemed as free as the air and sea, the beaches and shore. All were welcome at the right tide– daily the beach and island are connected. There’s an innate understanding that visitors need to respect the natural property much as they would when visiting a national park. Yet Salt Island is owned privately; it’s simply left wild and public.
Yearly taxes were paid by the family. The City provided yearly services; for instance lifeguards to help stranded visitors, unaware of the tides.
Is it possible to compensate the owner in the most advantageous way (some combination of sale, waiving estate taxes, credit for donation) to clear up any future ownership confusion and protect the means of public access, minus vague qualifiers (“left open as resources allow”) or increasing any necessary costs? Land steward organizations sometimes sell property or limit access, laws and environment change, funds for care deplete. Is there a common sense path that considers Salt Island as Good Harbor Beach– it’s attached daily– and accorded the same balance of care that the beach has legally maintained since the 1920s?
above – Lifeguards have a summer suggestion in the VIDEO link For Sale in Mass: A $750K Island Packed With History. “This small island in Gloucester, Massachusetts has hosted a major salt theft, a lobstering hermit and a Hollywood production.” by Rob Michaelson for NECN NBC Boston
above- photos of Good Harbor Beach lifeguards moving a signature chair after a morning conditioning training session that involved swimming and running the length of Good Harbor Beach, twice. Foggy drizzle, low tide connection to Salt Island
below– link to Coalition Aims to Buy Salt Island: Greenbelt Negotiating Bid for Save Our Shores, by Ray Lamont Gloucester Daily Times
infinite moods of Salt Island
GMG post about Salt Island includes a historic timeline and links to prior ‘for sale’ stories published by Cape Ann Beacon and Boston Globe
GloucesterCast 223 with Nicohle Schrafft, Jimmy and Pat Dalpiaz, Kim Smith and Joey Ciaramitaro Taped April 23, 2017
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The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Massachusetts Wildlife, announced a new statewide piping plover conservation plan last Friday.
Thank you to the GMG reader who saw the news on TV, and wrote a comment on the Disney-Pixar post. Massachusetts may be the model for North America. The MA Wildlife report includes the conservation approach implemented in Cape Cod last year, home to 60+% of MA piping plover population. I don’t have the tv station’s coverage, but I included the WBUR wire pick, and piping plover reports from CT, NH, and ME. Kim Smith is covering the pair on Good Harbor Beach. Nesting Piping Plovers have been seen on Coffins Beach and Revere Beach.
Currently, the Atlantic coast population (North Carolina to Eastern Canada) of piping plovers continues to hold steady just under 2,000 pairs. The Massachusetts State Department of Fish and Wildlife targets maintaining 625 pairs with greater intervention should the population fall below 500 pairs.
Piping plovers were not rare enough to be described as a ‘wild’ species in 1895 in Daniel Giraud Elliot’s North American Shore Birds. He wrote that where the species had been formerly ‘most abundant’ the piping plover was “found chiefly on the more retired parts of the cost where it was free from molestation…its acquaintance with man has caused it to be at the present time, in most places where it is found, a rather wary bird.” The fattened birds were “palatable, yet sometimes sedgy in flavor.” Skunks and other predators, influx in summer population, and loss of habitat were concerns. Plastic trash is a striking difference now. At least we don’t eat them.
Three Piping Plovers were recently killed in their nesting habitat at Griswold Point in Old Lyme CT. It’s believed a fourth was intentionally stepped on in Bluff Point State Park in Groton, CT. “People ignore the signs.”
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Conservation monitors the piping plovers. The Connecticut Audubon Society doesn’t maintain piping plover information, however they do have an incredible osprey project to report. Tom Andersen told me that the CT Audubon Society has built up a network of more than 300 volunteers to find and monitor osprey. An intern has plotted the work of these citizen scientists on this Osprey Nation map. Nests have grown from 200 to 500. I think I’m inspired to do a map of the piping plovers if someone in MA or in the state office hasn’t done it already!
MASSACHUSETTS – CAPE COD
Massachusetts may be the national model.
Read WBUR on the MA Wildlife press release with a focus on Nauset New Plan Allows Beachgoers More Room While Protecting Piping Plovers
David Abel wrote about it back in January for the Boston Globe (January 21, 2016) Beachgoers may get break as plovers rebound:
“In Orleans, after years of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in fees for stickers to drive on town beaches, local officials independently sought and obtained a federal waiver last year to allow a limited number of vehicles back on the beach.”
“For Russ Hopping, who oversees about 27 miles of beaches from Ipswich to Nantucket for the Trustees of Reservations, a federal waiver would mean more than getting rid of some fences on their beaches. It would mean fewer headaches. With some 60 plover pairs on their beaches last summer, Hopping hopes new flexibility would translate into fewer complaints and greater protection for the birds.
“That we’ve reached the point that this opportunity even exists represents a conservation success story for Massachusetts,” he said.
South shore and Plum Island stories have been contentious (e.g. WBZ’s 2010 story in Plymouth Are they protecting the plovers or their view? )
The town of Duxbury canceled their annual 4th of July beach bonfire because piping plover pairs returned and were nesting year after year. “Most Duxbury residents said they understand the need to cancel the bonfire for the bird. Since the birds return every year, the committee said next year they’ll consider a new tradition of having the beach bonfire at another time.”
There are 7 pairs reported in NH right now in Seabrook and Hampton. “Since protection efforts began in New Hampshire in 1997 through 2015, 99 nesting pairs of plovers have fledged 127 chicks on the state’s seacoast.”
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Maine Audubon report Piping Plovers first sightings in 2016 on beaches at Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach. They’re sending an estimate about nests.
MASSACHUSETTS- CAPE ANN- Gloucester
search for Kim Smith’s exceptional documentation and photographs on Good Morning Gloucester about the one nesting pair on Good Harbor Beach
- How to tell a male piping plover vs female
- Dog Owner and Trash Trouble Part 1
- Dog Owner and Trash Trouble Part 2
- Piping Plover update
- First look at 2016 Good Harbor Beach piping plover
- Facts on the fenced off area
more on GMG:
- see Piping Plover on Coffins Beach
- Please help with research! report local horseshoe crab sightings and reminiscences
- Piping plover fans: local author DEBORAH CRAMER The Narrow Edge on sandpipers is a must read. Oh, and dogs vs.
- reported sightings from Deborah Cramer, and excerpts from 1895 North American Shore Birds
- Disney- Pixar Piper movie
Volunteer “citizen scientists,” working in support of Essex County Greenbelt’s Osprey Program, monitored Osprey nests in 10 communities and submitted their observations, helping Greenbelt confirm that 26 pairs of Osprey nested across Essex County in 2013, as compared to 18 pairs in 2012; 14 pairs in 2011 and 11 pairs in 2010.
The 26 pairs are the most observed since Greenbelt started helping the Osprey population in 2007 by building and repairing nesting platforms. “Osprey are really thriving in Essex County, and with the work of so many volunteers, we are collecting excellent information that is helping us understand where they are nesting and whether they are successfully fledging young,” said Greenbelt Director of Stewardship Dave Rimmer, who also directs the Osprey Program.
Rimmer released these findings in a full report entitled Status of Osprey Breeding Activity in Essex County Massachusetts 2013, available on the Greenbelt website, ecga.org.
Some 200 volunteers and Greenbelt staffers filed online reports of Osprey nesting activity from Salem to Salisbury, starting in April right though to September.
Greenbelt expanded its Osprey Program in 2013, adding a webcam on a nest at its Cox Reservation headquarters. The Osprey Program also established a more comprehensive nest monitoring effort; installed a new Osprey platform and repaired others; installed two outdoor kiosks with detailed information about Osprey biology and conservation, and collaborated with Dr. Rob Bierregaard of UNC, Charlotte, to track two fledgling Osprey by satellite to study Osprey migration.
But the highlight of 2013 was streaming webcam video from the nesting platform at the Cox Reservation, which went directly to the Greenbelt website. Rimmer credits the webcam for building new public awareness and support for Osprey conservation in Essex County. Video of Allyn and Ethel, the nesting Osprey pair at the Cox Reservation, their eggs and chick, was viewed more than 60,000 times on Greenbelt’s website and facebook page, from as far as away as a family in France and a class of school children in Florida. The webcam will go live again sometime in March, when the Osprey pair is expected to return.
On Greenbelt’s website, ecga.org, you can view the full report of the Status of Osprey in Essex County in 2013, see a map showing Osprey nest locations in Essex County, as well as view the current flight path of Whit, the one surviving fledgling from a Gloucester nesting platform. Dr. Bierregaard tagged Whit last August so a satellite could follow his travels as he migrated from Gloucester to Venezuela.
Rimmer says, “Osprey are such a beautiful and captivating bird of prey, while also a strong indicator of the health of our coastal ecosystem. We have been overwhelmed by the public interest in Osprey activity, especially the steaming webcam video that was viewed worldwide by so many. All of us at Greenbelt are eagerly anticipating the return of Osprey to the area this year in March and April, and we are excited to once again engage as many people as we can with our programs.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Greenbelt’s Osprey Program should contact Dave Rimmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Essex County Greenbelt at the Cape Ann Cinema on Thursday, July 21st at 7:30pm for a special screening of the award-winning documentary, “The Legend of Pale Male: A hawk. A city. A love story.” The film is being presented as one of several Greenbelt 50th Anniversary community outreach activities this year.
Affectionately known to New Yorkers as Pale Male, the rare Redtail hawk becomes a magnificent obsession of a young Belgium photographer who tracks the extraordinary predator with a video camera for twenty years. The hawk and his adventures are a metaphor for triumph against all odds. Pale Male’s nest, perched on a posh 5th Avenue co-op, starts out as a novel curiosity to a handful of avid birdwatchers but becomes an international tourist destination – a place of pilgrimage. Then, one December afternoon without warning, in the space of half an hour, the building dismantles Pale Male’s beloved nest. In a wingbeat, media from around the world assemble on 5th Avenue to cover the unprecedented protest. Gathering behind Pale Male is an army of birdwatchers; movie stars, poets, children, dogs, and late night comedy show hosts. What unfolds next, as they say, could only happen in New York.
“Greenbelt is thrilled to bring the inspirational story of Pale Male to the Cape Ann Community Cinema in celebration of our 50th Anniversary year”, said Ed Becker, Greenbelt Executive Director. “It’s a marvelous tale, for all ages, that demonstrates the wonders of nature, even in the most challenging settings and circumstances.” he continued.
Cape Ann Community Cinema is located at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester with plenty of nearby parking. Tickets are $5.00 for adults and free admission for children 12 and under.
The Essex County Greenbelt Association is a member supported nonprofit land trust that has protected over 14,000 acres. Since 1961, Greenbelt has been working with local communities and landowners to acquire and protect ecological areas, farmland and scenic vistas, protecting the open space heritage of Essex County. For more information about Greenbelt programs visit www.ecga.org or call 978-768-7241.
Wondering if you might post this great free Essex County Greenbelt walk on
Sunday, March 27, 1 – 3 p.m.
Geology Walk at Dogtown
Carter Reservation, Gloucester
Led by Greenbelt’s Executive Director Ed Becker and Greenbelt staff member
The landscape and legends of Dogtown have inspired naturalists and writers
for centuries. On this walk, we’ll focus on natural history, with an eye to
the many interesting geologic features of this unique area. Registration
required, please email email@example.com
Directions: From Route 128 North, take the third exit off Grant Circle, the
first Gloucester Rotary, onto Washington Street, Route 127. Drive 2.2 miles.
Just after the causeway that crosses the outlet for Goose Cove, turn right
onto Dennison Street. Drive to the end of Dennison Street and park at the
Thanks, Jill Buchanan