Tag Archives: Cuttyhunk

Project Update: Confirming a Legacy of Conservation on Cuttyhunk Island

Our recent acquisition of the West End parcel on Cuttyhunk Island for conservation marked only one step in a much larger project on the tiny island at the end of Buzzards Bay.

Over the last several years, Mass Audubon has been doing the work necessary to accept the gift of several parcels on Cuttyhunk.  These pieces of land, scattered around the island, were all owned by Muriel “Oriel” Ponzecchi who passed away in late 2015.  Oriel, as she was known by her friends, generously left all these lands to Mass Audubon in her will.  We are very grateful to have the opportunity to help achieve her intended legacy of conservation.

Accepting gifts of land can be more time consuming than one might think.  There are many things to consider before taking on a property, especially on a place like Cuttyhunk with its long history of varied human uses including military, agriculture, and tourism.

View from Cuttyhunk southwest towards the Atlantic Ocean

Similar to buying a house, we have to consider all sorts of issues to make sure we understand the property we are about to own.  For example, we have to consider if there are any safety concerns on the property and if there is clear title to the land (meaning no risk of disputed ownership) among other things.

Some twists and turns are expected.

That all aside, we have worked on some wonderful properties so far and there are more to come.  Next on the list is a high point on the island with one of the best views of Buzzards Bay that one could hope to find. 

More trips to the island by this Mass Audubon Land Protection Specialist will likely be necessary, hopefully in summer, because fortunately someone has to do it!

 By Nick Rossi, Land Protection Specialist

Expanding Our Presence on Cuttyhunk Island

On June 27, 2019 Mass Audubon received a two and a half acre property located on Cuttyhunk Island. 


If you’re not familiar with Cuttyhunk, you are in good company. The island is a little known gem of coastal Massachusetts.  Specifically, it is the last and smallest of the Elizabeth Island chain just northwest of Martha’s Vineyard.  The island is about two miles from end to end.   There is a small, picturesque community (Gosnold, MA) comprised of mostly summer residents, but the vast majority of the island is still undeveloped. 

The West End

This new Mass Audubon land sits at the very western tip of the island, hence we’ve been calling it “The West End”.

This little piece of land at the edge of the world is a lovely bit of sand, rock, and grass by the sea.  A perfect place to stare out at the ocean on a summer day.  

It contains some of the highest bluffs on the island, and the shoreline offers a wonderful view of Martha’s Vineyard from a piece of rare coastal habitat.

Looking towards Martha’s Vineyard from the West End

This property is part of a generous bequest made by conservation-minded Muriel Ponzecchi to Mass Audubon in order to protect places on Cuttyhunk Island that she held so dear.  The West End parcel is actually phase two of the bequest. The first phase was a Conservation Restriction on roughly nine acres called “Bayberry Hill” which occurred in 2017.  

We hope to conclude phase three in the coming year, so stay tuned for more land protection news from Cuttyhunk!

by Nick Rossi, Land Protection Specialist

Up on the Rooftop

John Coolidge, Conservation Restriction Stewardship Specialist

As the year of monitoring winds down and we frantically try to complete all our visits by year’s end, occasionally I’m caught totally off guard by the unexpected. And this year was no exception.

Being one who puts off the best for last, monitoring that is, I saved my visit to Gosnold until now.

Gosnold is a small town located on Cuttyhunk Island, at the end of the Elisabeth Islands, off the tail of Cape Cod. The island has less than 20 permanent residences and a school age population that currently  stands at two—brother and sister ages 8 & 6. Mail comes twice a week along with general supplies to the island, depending on the weather. Winters tend to be very long, cold, and a bit windy (to say the least).

In the summer months (July & August) the population quadruples with summer residents and that doesn’t count the many pleasure boats that visit, passing through on their way to the Cape & Islands.

My visit to Cuttyhunk earlier this week was beautiful, pleasant and cold. But let me back up…

Until age 3 or 4 I’m told I was a real believer in the jolly old man in the red suit, until one day when I discovered my parents wrapping a lump of coal…

Well, yesterday my belief was restored. Shortly after the ferry docked on Cuttyhunk, I was finishing a hot cup of coffee with the Captain & crew (after all it was quite cold, and none of us wanted to leave the warmth of the ship’s galley), when all of a sudden  there was quite a clatter on the upper deck! We all jumped  with wild expectations of what could possibly be going on. We rushed on deck thinking the ship was headed down! And who, to our surprise, was standing there on a pre-Christmas visit to the children of the Island?…. Old Saint Nick!

And I have the picture to prove he is real:

Santa with Lynch Family

Photo of Santa making a special trip to see the Lynch Family on Cuttyhunk Island!