New website design

When you next visit the Wellfleet Conservation Trust website <> you’ll see some changes. We’ve tried to make it more user-friendly, and give it a more pleasing design with many more photos. It follows more contemporary conventions on web design and will be easier for us to modify and update. 

The site is built using WordPress, which is a simple, widely-used platform. It should now be more hardware independent. That means that it should look OK on a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. One bonus is that the new arrangement saves WCT several hundred dollars per year. We can also collect statistics on overall use of the site (but not on individuals).

You’ll also see some new features. There’s a search box on the top of the sidebar on the right. As an example, try “annual meeting” to see reports on all of our annual meetings, or “annual walk” for reports on all of the annual walks. If you type in just “meeting” or “walk” you’ll get back a much longer list, one that’s not restricted just to annual events.

There’s also a blog, accessed through a link at the top of the page. You can view that on the site, or if you prefer, subscribe through the link at the bottom of the sidebar. Subscribers receive each new post via email and unsubscribe at any time.

Upcoming events are now posted on the home page. In addition, the pages on the site are now tagged. For example, <> will take you to all pages tagged as “WCTevent”. The Documents section (linked in the sidebar) has been expanded to include more public information, such as trail guides and maps, by-laws, and a photo gallery. There’s a password-protected section for sensitive Trustee documents if needed.

We hope you enjoy the new site, and that it helps you understand, appreciate, and use the WCT. Please share any suggestions or questions through the website’s “Contact us” page, linked at the top.

Trails for all seasons

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Walker Trail

Wellfleet conservation lands serve many purposes, one of which is to provide opportunities for recreation. Most are full public access, meaning that people may linger to enjoy the views, observe the fauna and flora, or have pleasant times with family and friends. There are many short trails, often leading to benches for contemplation and open areas with beautiful vistas.

2017-03-13 16.00.40Although most visitors come in the summer and many walkers prefer warmer weather, the trails offer a special beauty in winter, with opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter birding, and even picnics.

Longer trails

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust has worked with the Wellfleet Conservation Commission and the Town Open Space Committee to create several contiguous properties for walking, photography, birdwatching, exercise, and other activities. These properties include longer, marked trails, some of which connect with National Seashore or other lands, thereby providing additional possibilities for exploring and even longer trails.

2017-03-13 16.01.29The Trust builds and maintains these trails, with the help of Americorps members and others in the community. The trail building includes making a safe path, cutting branches and vines, pulling up trip roots, adding rustic stairs on steep sections, marking with blazes, placing benches, clearing parking spaces, and adding signs.
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Trail guides and maps

At the Wellfleet Public Library you can find a free packet of brochures with trail guides and maps. There is an activity guide for children. This material is also available on the website.

2017-03-13 16.15.59The location of Wellfleet Conservation Trust lands are shown on the map in the sidebar. Click on the map to see a high definition pdf version. The pdf is zoomable and can be saved for later use. Also, at each trailhead there is a sign with a QR code, which you can use with your smartphone to find a trail guide with map for the specific trail.

Overview: The Story of Outer Cape Cod and of Wellfleet’s ‘In Town’ Conservation Areas, Creeks and Waterways

SE Mass Land Trust Convocation

Upper Cape Regional Technical School
Upper Cape Regional Technical School

On Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, six members of the Wellfleet Conservation Trust traveled to the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne to attend the Southeastern Massachusetts Land Trust Convocation.

The 16th annual Convocation brought together 110 members of the SE Mass. land conservation community for presentations and workshops.

One morning workshop discussed large land acquisition projects, which might appear at first too costly to pursue in terms of time, money, or other resources. This echoed a tribute at the convocation to Truro’s Ansel Burt Chaplin.

Chaplin had co-founded the Truro Conservation Trust, leading coalition efforts to preserve High Head and many scenic spots along the Pamet River. In 1984 he began convening local land trusts on the lower Cape to learn from one another. This led to the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, the “oldest self-sustaining regional network of land trusts in the US.”

Another workshop focused on Cultural Respect Access Agreements. We learned about a pioneer agreement regarding 250 acres in Dennis, the first native-led land trust agreement in the Eastern US.

Jack Clarke
Jack Clarke

In the afternoon, a workshop centered on effective communication to attract volunteers, build partnerships, or raise funds.

Finally, one workshop used case studies to illustrate about how trees are not always the answer for land conservation. But creating open habitats, meadows, and shrublands and keeping them from maturing into dense woods is not as easy as it may appear.

In the middle of the day, participants heard an inspiring talk by Jack Clarke, Director of Advocacy for MassAudubon: Where Do We Go From Here? The Environmental Challenges Ahead. He outlined the new challenges facing environmental protection efforts, nationally and internationally, while emphasizing the impact that local conservation can make.

Coast Sweep, Wellfleet

Marcus Ericson & Anna Cummins, founders of 5 Gyres; photo by Susan Quigley

The brisk wind coming off the Bay was enough to blow off hats and knock down the unwary walker. But 37 adults and 3 children braved that wind and the chilly temperature to clean up Wellfleet beaches.

Seashells, too; photo by Kim Novino
Seashells, too; photo by Kim Novino

They had been invited by the Wellfleet Conservation Trust to meet at the Wellfleet Mayo Beach parking area on Kendrick Avenue at 10 AM on Columbus Day. The volunteers mostly hailed from Wellfleet and other towns on Cape Cod, but some were from western Massachusetts, Washington DC, California, and other places.

They broke up into 11 teams, each assigned to a different area of beach around Wellfleet Bay. After a couple of hours of cleanup, they had collectively traversed 7 miles of beach and accumulated 25 bags of debris weighing 197 pounds.
Some items were too large for the bags, such as a rusting iron hanger for plants. The volunteers also identified, but did not retrieve, 3 dead gulls, 3 dead eiders, and shellfishing gear that was too heavy to carry.

Fishing lures; photo by Kim Novino
Fishing lures; photo by Kim Novino

The cleanup was held during Wellfleet Ocean Week, with events at the Library, at Oysterfest, and other venues. Co-sponsors of the events included the Wellfleet Recycling Committee, Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the Wellfleet Conservation Commission, the Open Space Committee, and the Friends of the Herring River.

Ocean Week introduced the founders of the 5 Gyres Institute, who helped bring the world’s attention to the problem of ocean pollution, especially microbeads. These are tiny beads of plastic that are put into toothpastes, facial scrubs, and other products at a rate of 8 billion per day. Beginning in 2010, 5 Gyres began research in all five subtropical gyres, as well as the great lakes and Antarctica. Their study on plastic microbeads pollution in the Great Lakes led to the federal ban on microbeads, signed into law by President Obama in 2015.

Bags for debris; photo by Kim Novino
Bags for debris; photo by Kim Novino

A report on the Wellfleet Bay cleanup was sent to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), which coordinates Coast Sweep, the Massachusetts cleanup. That effort in turn is part of the annual Fall, International Coastal Cleanup of the Ocean Conservancy, which collects debris from beaches, marshes, river banks and the seafloor.

More than 18 million pounds of trash were collected by nearly 800,000 volunteers last year. The debris includes cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, bottle caps, straws, and such, but also more exotic items such as toilets, refrigerators, boat anchors, and mattresses. This is about 0.1% of what’s added each year to the oceans. Data on the marine debris can be used to seek solutions for keeping trash out of the ocean.

Coast Sweep doesn’t pretend to mitigate the pollution of the world’s oceans and other waterways, although it does help to make specific beaches on lakes, rivers, and oceans safer and more pleasant. That was certainly the case for the Columbus Day work around Wellfleet Bay. Our hope is that the cleanup heightens awareness of what we collectively do to the environment we love.

Wellfleet Conservation Trust Seeks volunteers for COASTSWEEP 2016 on October 10 which will coordinate with 5 Gyres Institute special activities on Cape Cod

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE………………………………CONTACT: DENNIS O’CONNELL……………………………….508-349-2162

(Wellfleet, MA… September 12, 2016) – Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) announces that it is organizing volunteer efforts to conduct the annual COASTSWEEP program for the Wellfleet coastline. This year’s program will specially coordinate with the efforts by the Wellfleet Recycling Committee to highlight the worldwide efforts of the 5 Gyres Institute to improve the oceans quality and better attack marine debris and litter, especially plastic. In addition to the Wellfleet Recycling Committee, other co-sponsoring organizations include Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the Wellfleet Conservation Commission, the Open Space Committee, and the Friends of the Herring River.

Since 1987, volunteers throughout Massachusetts have turned out for the annual COASTSWEEP cleanup organized by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). Each September and October, thousands of volunteers collect literally tons of trash from beaches, marshes, river banks and the seafloor. COASTSWEEP participants join hundreds of thousands of other volunteers in the world’s largest volunteer effort for the ocean—Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup—collecting trash, fishing line and other marine debris and recording data on what they find. This data is used to find solutions for keeping trash out of the ocean.

The non-profit 5 Gyres Institute has been fighting plastic ocean pollution for nearly a decade. Beginning in 2010, 5 Gyres began research in all five subtropical gyres, as well as the great lakes and Antarctica. Their study on plastic microbeads pollution in the Great Lakes led to the federal ban on microbeads, signed into law by President Obama in 2015. The founders of 5 Gyres will be making special presentations in Wellfleet during October as part of The Wellfleet Ocean Week sponsored by the Recycling Committee ( ). 5 Gyres’ website is .

As part of the annual COASTSWEEP, the local cleanup is organizing at the Wellfleet Mayo Beach parking area on Kendrick Avenue at 10 AM, Monday October 10, (Columbus Day). Volunteers are asked to come to that point to be assigned to a small team and a section of beaches for the sweep. All supplies are being provided, but if you want your own gloves and reusable water bottles, it is suggested that you bring them. For further information, please contact either Dennis O’Connell (508-349-2162) or Lonni Briggs (508-349-2614)

Tenth Annual Walk, Lieutenant’s Island

WCT 10th Annual Guided Walk; map by Wellfleet Conservation Trust
WCT 10th Annual Guided Walk; map by Wellfleet Conservation Trust

“I stayed just for the walk.” For frequent summer visitor Deb Firtha, this was her fifth Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) annual walk, so she knew that it would be worth it to delay her return to Ohio, and stay for another.

She was not disappointed. Along with 101 others, she enjoyed one of the best walks yet. The weather was perfect: sunny skies, low 70’s, and gentle sea breezes.Walk leader Bill Iacuessa pointed out that there were few ticks in this habitat, the mosquitoes were diminished by the drought, the green heads were past, and there was little poison ivy to worry about.

The walk (open to the public and free as always) began at 9 a.m. at the Lieutenant’s Island causeway in South Wellfleet. It continued a tradition dating to 2007 for the public to experience the beauty of Wellfleet’s open space and conservation lands.

Along the way, we paused at key locations to hear from naturalists and other local experts who could share their knowledge of the history, geology, and ecology of the area. For example, Fire Chief Rick Pauley related several anecdotes about the challenge of providing emergency services to an island, whose road is often impassable at high tide.

Pam Tice, who writes the South Wellfleet history blog, explained why the island’s name is spelled two different ways. She also told us about early settlers, how Lt. Island was once an area for raising horses, and how it later developed as a residential area.

Bob Prescott from Mass Audubon spoke about that organization’s role in preserving habitat in the area, and especially about the terrapin gardens. Bill Huss spoke for the Lt. Island Association, sharing what it’s like to live there. Ginie Page talked about the problem of erosion and the revetments used to counter that. She also talked about how the shoreline had changed over the years. Dwight Estey filled in more of the history, especially about shellfishing and blackfish. Bill Iacuessa helped to connect many ideas throughout and to keep the balance between walking, exploring, and discussing.

Other topics included the causeway and bridge, whale try works, salt haying, and aquaculture. We also talked about specific conservation lands, and how town and private organizations coordinate both to preserve these beautiful habitats and to make them accessible to the public. We discussed potential acquisitions on Lt. Island, which would further connect conservation lands and expand opportunities for enjoying nature. Several of the participants were Lt. Island residents, who were learning new things about their own neighborhood.

The walk was about 2.7 miles, with some soft sand and a few stairs. Walkers were offered the opportunity to leave the walk earlier if necessary. Much of the route was exposed to the wind, especially on the shore of Blackfish Creek, but the mild weather kept the walking pleasant.

Deb Firtha wasn’t the only repeat walker to experience the unique combination of outdoor fitness with learning about nature, history, and the community. But for many of the walkers, this was their first WCT guided walk. They were already asking where next year’s walk would be.

Wellfleet has so much natural beauty that we’ve been able to conduct ten of these walks so far, each to a different area. Wellfleet is full of hidden gems and breathtaking vistas. We hope it always stays that way. That’s what we’re working for.

[Thanks to Susie Quigley and Dwight Estey for many of the photos, to Mark Gabriele, Mary Rogers, and Susan Bruce for suggestions on the text.]

In cooperation with children’s author Heidi Clemmer, WELLFLEET CONSERVATION TRUST offers a new edition of the program: Tales & Trails: Nature Walks for Young Explorers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ………………………………CONTACT: DENNIS O’CONNELL………………………………  508-349-2162                                                                                                                                                                                        (Wellfleet, MA… September 8, 2016) – Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) announces that it is again cosponsoring the successful Tales & Trails: Nature Walks for Young Explorers programs of after-school walks through some of Wellfleet’s conservation areas. The programs will be led by Heidi Clemmer and Marisa Picariello, the author and the illustrator of a new series of nature books for children. The program will expose kids and families to the beauty of Wellfleet’s open space lands while teaching them about the habitats and wildlife of the outer Cape. Each of the programs will focus on a different eco-system and will be paired with one of the books in their series.

After 21 years as an elementary school teacher, Heidi Clemmer retired and decided to devote her leisure time and energies to her true passion: teaching children about nature. With illustrator and collaborator Marisa Picariello, she has launched a nature book series called “Cape Cod Eco-Tales”. The Tales & Trails: Nature Walks for Young Explorers is a program that combines the educational content of Clemmer’s books with a live ‘hands-on’ experience in nature. The children get to listen, explore and create: they hear a lively and imaginative nature story told by the author and illustrator, explore the corresponding ecosystem, and then create their own souvenir of the experience in art, writing, or photography. WCT President Dennis O’Connell stated “In addition to being a thoroughly enjoyable family activity, we hope it will foster an early appreciation of the surrounding habitats and natural resources in our kids, something they can keep throughout their lifetimes.”

The walks are planned for Wednesday afternoons and are geared towards children 6-9 accompanied by an adult, although all are welcome. There is no cost to participate. The programs schedules are:

September 28 at the Indian Neck Beach featuring the book Barrier Beach Bums,

October 26 at Uncle Tim’s Bridge featuring the book Salt Marsh Secrets,

November 9 at Bound brook Island featuring the book Heathland Habitat,

April 5 at The Walker Conservation Land and Trail featuring the book Vernal Pool Visitors,

May 10 at Gull Pond featuring the book Kettle Pond Community, and

June 7 at Newcomb Hollow Beach featuring the book Dune Dwellers.

Advance registration is required. The walks begin at 2:30PM, meeting at locations. Tales & Trails is funded by WCT and supported in part by a grant from the Wellfleet Cultural Council, a local agency which receives funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. To register or inquire about the walks, email Heidi Clemmer at

Press release: 10th Annual Walk, Lieutenant’s Island

WCT 10th Annual Guided Walk; map by Wellfleet Conservation Trust
WCT 10th Annual Guided Walk; map by Wellfleet Conservation Trust

Contact: Bill Iacuessa, 508-349-9185

Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) will offer its 10th Annual Guided Walk on Saturday, September 10th, 2016 beginning at 9AM. The walk, which is open to the public, free of charge, will be a tour of Lieutenant’s Island in South Wellfleet guided by local experts.

The WCT Annual Guided Walk is a tradition that began in 2007 for the public to experience the beauty of Wellfleet’s open space and conservation lands while being guided by naturalists and other local experts who share their knowledge of the history, geology, and ecology of the areas being explored.

The island’s name is spelled two different ways above. This year’s walk will explain why as well as cover such topics as the causeway and bridge, terrapin gardens, early settlers and island history, aquaculture, role of the Lt. Island Association, erosion, and whale try works and salt haying. The guides will points out the various vistas along with conservation lands.

The walk will begin at 9AM on Saturday, September 10th at the beginning of the Lt. Island causeway (before the bridge). Parking will be limited so carpooling is recommended. The walk is about 2.7 miles in length. Walkers will be offered the opportunity to leave the walk earlier if necessary. Estimated time of the walk is 2.5 – 3.0 hours. Much of the walk is exposed and about half is along the shore of Blackfish Creek. The walk is free of charge, all are welcome to participate, and no reservation is necessary. Rain date is Sunday, September 11h at 9AM at the same location. If there is a rain date, it will be announced on the WCT website by 6:30 AM on the 10th.

August 20, 2016: 32nd Annual Meeting

Mr. Peter Trull, Cape Cod Naturalist, author and educator, delivered the keynote address, based on his recent book entitled The Gray Curtain – The Impact of Seals, Sharks and Commercial Fishing along the Northeast Coast, at the Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) Annual Meeting and Review at the Wellfleet Council on Aging.

Mr. Trull showed, through discussion and vivid photographs, the relationship between commercial fishing, expanding gray seal populations and great white sharks along the beaches and in the waters of Cape Cod. This “Gray Curtain” has come about after geologic and environmental changes, as well as animal migrations and population increases. Each has had an effect on the location and, though daily and seasonal changes are accepted as normal, there are great transformations taking place that may go unnoticed, some, unexplained.

“Mr. Trull’s presentation is of current interest, in light of the public’s adoration of seals, the recreational and commercial fishers’ frustrations with the seals and the growing public awareness of increases in great white shark sightings in Wellfleet and other parts of the Cape,” says WCT President Dennis O’Connell.

The WCT Annual Meeting began at 10:00 AM at the Wellfleet Council on Aging, 715 Old King’s Hwy in Wellfleet. Annual Meetings are open to the public; no reservation needed. Light refreshments are provided. Prior to Mr. Trull’s presentation, the Trust held its short annual business meeting and presented a historical overview of the group’s actions and achievements.

COMPACT’s 30th anniversary

The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this month.  Under the leadership of Executive Director Mark Robinson, the COMPACT has provided invaluable service to conservation trusts throughout the Cape and beyond, to include extraordinary service in assisting the Wellfleet Conservation Trust fulfill its mission.

See The First 30 Years: 1986-2016 Major Accomplishments.