Open Space Survey

The Town of Wellfleet is in the process of updating its Open Space and Recreation Five-Year Plan and needs your input.

WCT supports the Wellfleet Open Space Committee in getting wide distribution of the new survey. It takes about 10 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous.

The open space survey will identify needs and concerns of the community regarding open space and recreation resources. Having an approved OSR Plan is required to qualify for State reimbursement programs, which offset acquisition costs so that these important community assets can be protected in perpetuity.

You can help:

  1. Take the survey by February 13, 2023.
  2. Ask others in your household to complete it.
  3. Send it to neighbors, friends, renters, regular summer visitors, contractors/handy-people, etc. – anyone who might not be on one of the “official” Town lists.

If you’ve already responded to the survey, please pass it on to someone else who might be interested in Wellfleet’s future.

Land Trust Alliance’s new Resource Center

Herring River Overlook

Last month, the Land Trust Alliance opened its new Resource Center.

It’s described as “a one-stop-shop for volunteers, staff and board members of land trusts and other conservationists to learn, connect and grow.” The Resource Library holds more than 3,000 documents, courses, events and other materials related to land conservation.

There’s too much there to give a detailed summary, but it’s easy to browse. The Library is interesting to explore and can be valuable to anyone interested in conservation.

The Alliance has nearly 950 land trust members across the country, including Wellfleet Conservation Trust. The members are  community-based, nonprofit organizations that work to conserve land by acquisitions or conservation restrictions. They also manage or restore land once it has been conserved.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is November 30 this year. This is a great opportunity to help Wellfleet Conservation Trust assist and promote the preservation of natural resources and rural character of the town of Wellfleet.

Your donation can help conserve land in its natural state in perpetuity for enjoyment by current and future generations.

Annual Walk, September 17, 2022

By Bill Iacuessa

The 14th annual Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) walk was held on Saturday, September 11.  Due to COVID the walk was cancelled twice, so it was 3 years in the planning but well worth the wait.  Denny O’Connell, President of WCT, welcomed the walkers at the Long Pond parking lot.  Bill Iacuessa, organizer of the event, oriented the group to the unpaved roads and trails of the walk which are almost exclusively in the Cape Cod National Seashore. The highlights included Spectacle Pond, Kinnacum Pond and Gross Hill. As usual there were stops and speakers along the way.

Before heading off, Bill passed out photos of the ice house that existed along Long Pond in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Arriving at Spectacle Pond, John Portnoy, a scientist at the National Seashore for many years, spoke about the geology of Wellfleet ponds and Spectacle Pond in particular. Mary Rogers entertained the group about the quirky ways the names of streets and unpaved roads in town are changed. 

At Kinnacum Pond, David Wright explained the rich life of Dr. David Belding, who built the cottage on the pond.  The cottage is on private land and not normally accessible to the general public.   Dr. Belding was a shellfish biologist and medical doctor.  His work ushered in a century of purposeful aquaculture in Wellfleet, resulting in today’s robust and sustainable system of grants, licensing, propagation and management.

Along Isabell Way, near Gross Hill, Dwight Estey spoke about the lives of the famous Gross sisters, as they came to be known.  Copies of the daguerreotype of the sisters, made in 1851, were passed around.  When taken, the eldest was 85 and the youngest 57.  It would be the only time that the sisters were all together.

The final section of the walk, along a narrow trail, passed by a grove of Tupelos which are known for their beautiful fall foliage.  This grove is on high ground, an unusual site for this tree, which loves a moist, low-lying environment.  The trail also passed by an abandoned foundation whose story is now lost.   It was a perfect day weather wise and over 75 walkers enjoyed the trails and presentations.

Fourteenth Annual Walk

The WCT Fourteenth Annual Walk will take place on Saturday morning, September 17th. The walk is free and is 2.4 miles in length. The terrain will be mostly on dirt roads and paths in the woods. Topics will include Spectacle Pond, Kinnacum Pond, ice houses, the Gross sisters, Dr. Belding and perhaps Tupelo trees.

Parking is a concern so it is important to register in advance by sending an email no later than August 31st to:

Please include email address and the names of all participants who will be arriving in your car.

Final details, including start time and parking locations will be sent to you the first week in September. Rain date will be the next day, Sunday the 18th.

We hope you’ll join us – it’s been too long!

Wellfleet Conservation Trust 2022 Annual Meeting

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust will have its first in person annual meeting in three years. Please join our Trustees Wednesday, August 17, 2022, 4-6 pm, for informal discussion, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar on the deck of the Chequessett Club (680 Chequessett Neck Rd, Wellfleet).

The reception will be followed by our Annual Meeting, which will include a presentation by Denny O’Connell – President of the Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT), who will speak about the history of the WCT. Denny will also review recent WCT activities and land acquisitions followed by Q&A.

Fourteenth Annual Walk

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust’s Fourteenth Annual Walk will take place on Saturday morning, September 17, 2022.  The walk is free and is 2.4 miles in length.  The terrain will mostly be on dirt roads and paths in the woods.  Topics will include Spectacle Pond, Kinnacum Pond, ice houses, the Gross sisters, and Dr Belding. 

Parking is going to be a concern.  Consequently it is important that all participants register by sending an email no later than August 31 to

Please include in your email the names of all participants who will be arriving in your car.

Final information, including the start time and parking locations, will be sent to you the first week in September.  In case of rain on the 17th, the walk will be held the next day Sunday, September 18.

The Extraordinary Herring River Overlook

Robert FInch

Robert Finch writes:

Over the past several months, I’ve introduced several of our friends to an extraordinary property recently acquired by the Wellfleet Conservation Trust. I don’t usually talk about “official” conservation areas on this program, because I don’t want to imply that “nature” is only to be found in formally protected areas. But this one is special. The property in question is called the Herring River Overlook.

You can listen to his podcast about the Herring River Overlook on A Cape Cod Notebook on WCAI.

Herring on the run

Blueback herring on the Herring River, Wellfleet
Blueback herring on the Herring River, Wellfleet

The Herring River in Wellfleet runs through, adjacent to, or very close by many WCT properties. Most notably it forms the small valley beneath the new Herring River Overlook . It’s appropriate to honor the river together with this World Fish Migration Day.

The lilacs are blooming and the buttercups brighten the river banks, so the blueback herring are swimming upstream to spawn. We counted 89 in one ten-minute stretch this week.

The herring do surprisingly well, despite the constricted tidal flow in the river. Their biggest problem comes at the culverts. Fortunately for them, the one near our count site did not have a snapping turtle, raccoon, or crow waiting on the upstream side.

Culvert on the Herring River, to be enlarged as part of the project to restore the Herring River estuary.
Culvert on the Herring River, to be enlarged as part of the project to restore the Herring River estuary

We love seeing the herring. They tell us that the river, although damaged, is not dead.

A friend and neighbor says that she loves the herring, too, especially when they’re pickled with peppercorns and bay leaves, then served with onions. That was possible in the days when the river flowed freely. Our hope is that fishing, shellfishing, birdwatching, boating, and more can return when the river is restored.

Note: Portions of this article are cross-posted on