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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: wct.annual.walk@gmail.com

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 wct.annual.walk@gmail.com

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 chipbruce.net.

Join the Conservation Trust for an Earth Day walk

Come celebrate Earth Day, Friday, April 22 with the Wellfleet Conservation Trust.

We are offering a walk through a portion of the Fox Island Marsh & Pilgrim Springs Woodland Conservation Area at 10 a.m. Meet at the parking area off Baker Rd. in South Wellfleet.

The one-hour walk features the marsh and harbor views and background information on the area. This mildly challenging walk includes up and downhill terrain. Sturdy walking shoes are advised.

Wellfleet Conservation Trust Annual Meeting via Zoom *UPDATED*

Our previous post and email notification failed to include the meeting date and time.

When: Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 5-6 pm, Eastern time

Please pre-register at info@wellfleetconservationtrust.org. We will give you the Zoom connection details via email.

Please join us for a focused Annual Meeting on your Wellfleet Conservation Trust. Due to pandemic concerns, we have not been able to meet in person since our August 2019 Annual Meeting, but we have some statutory requirements, so we hope you can join us via Zoom. There will be a brief review of recent activities, a video presentation of our new Herring River Overlook site, and election of Trustees for terms ending in 2023 and 2024.

We miss meeting in person but plan for a regular, in-person annual meeting in the summer of 2022.

Places to go for a walk

For more than 15 years, the Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) and two Wellfleet-town committees have worked in partnership to provide walking trails on designated conservation lands. All of these trails are outside of the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary of Mass Audubon who have some of their own nice trails. On the WCT website, see the down-loadable map called “Wellfleet Open Space and Conservation Lands” for all the conservation land in town.

WCT works most closely with the Open Space Committee (OSC) which is charged with evaluating town owned lands and designating additional lands for acquisition for conservation purposes, including installation of trails, i.e. “passive recreation”. The OSC has had its eye on currently town-owned land which would have a best use as conservation land whether just for pure conservation purposes without trails, or with trails. The OSC then works through Town Meeting to get the land placed under the care and custody of the Conservation Commission (ConsCom).

This has been a very effective partnership leading to trails on eight of the areas designated for conservation. In these areas, the underlying lands are owned variously by WCT and the Town, under the care and custody of ConsCom. The underlying ownership divisions on the land are intentionally invisible so the public can enjoy the underlying conserved land without interruption. The land is cared for by feeownership for conservation purposes and protection under contractual conservation restrictions. In some places the land is owned by the Town with a conservation restriction held by WCT. In other places, it is the reverse. See the map below called WCT and Town Conservation Trails which shows the locations of these trails.

The partnership then maintains the trails through work parties consisting of the WCT trustees, and volunteers, along with members of the town committees. There are times when the efforts are greatly supplemented by the members of AmeriCorps of Cape Cod who bring skills and endurance through youth and contagious enthusiasm.

There are trail maps and guides, in hard copy, that are provided at various public locations such as the Library and Town Hall. Also, these trail maps and guides are available for download or printing from the WCT website.

Enjoy your walks in Wellfleet. There is a lot to appreciate.

WCT and Town Conservation Trails