Herring River Overlook work party

Our newest WCT conservation area, now dubbed Herring River Overlook (HRO), offers woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and incredible views of the Herring River estuary.

As the Herring River restoration project proceeds, these views will become even better. They’ll provide a tutorial on the restoration of the historic salt marsh, with its diverse flora and fauna.

Trustees and friends held a small work party on June 1 to complete the parking area for a trail through the HRO property, clear the trail, and add steps where needed. Fortunately, it was a sunny day with mild temperatures. The photos here give you some idea of the work involved and also what the finished trail will be.

MIke FIsher, Dave Koonce, and Denny O’Connell building a slit rail fence around the parking area
Mike and Dave digging post holes
Americorps worker, Mary Doucette and Barry Turnbull trimming a tree
Denny, Dave, and Mike measuring a post hole
Mike setting steps on a steep area at the start of the trail
Denny, Chip, Dave, and Mike after completing one section of fence

New Drummer Cove video

A new video for the Drummer Cove conservation area has just been released. Thanks go especially to Mary Doucette, advised by Mike Fisher.

The Drummer Cove area is remarkably varied for its 11+ acres. It is also unusual for offering a 1+ mile trail with easy access.

Length & Extent of Trail: 1.1 miles; 11.3 acres plus easements

Area description: The Drummer Cove Conservation Area includes salt marsh, tidal flats, coastal bank and oak pine forest on its upland. The entire area is within the recharge area to Drummer Cove and as such falls into the Wellfleet Harbor Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The land is in State designated Priority Habitat for rare species. The four benches provide great views of the Cove.

Location: The trail head is at 170 Pond Ave in South Wellfleet. 41.91415, -70.00165

Directions: Exit Route 6 heading west for approximately 0.5 miles on Paine Hollow Road to the first stop sign. Turn left on Pleasant Point Road for approximately 0.25 miles. Turn left on to Pond Ave for 0.3 miles, the last part being a dirt road to a parking area at the trail head.

New video for conservation areas

An analysis of the use of our WCT website shows that many visitors to the site are interested in exploring the conservation areas and trails. That’s especially the case in July and August.

Responding to that need, Mary Doucette, our Americorps worker, has produced a terrific video for the Fox Island and Pilgrim Spring area.

It’s now posted in our video showcase, which will eventually contain additonal WCT videos (currently just this one).

Virtual Herring River Race 5K

The Friends of Herring River (with special thanks to Patti Elliott) have organized the first annual Virtual Herring River 5K race for May 1 – 31, 2021. It’s to celebrate the planned restoration of the river.

The race is run virtually, with times to be reported on the honor system.

The race can be done in stages. At 5k (3.1 miles) you could race each of the 31 days of May for 0.1 miles (about 200 steps). Walking is one option.

Hard work with a big payoff: The Fox Island Marsh conservation area

Visitors and residents of Wellfleet enjoy the enticing walking trails in conservation areas established by the Wellfleet Conservation Trust. We have many people to thank for making these possible.

One of the most notable of these areas was developed in 2010. The Town, the State Fish and Game Department, and WCT created a 181-acre conservation area. It included Fox Island March, Pilgrim Spring Woodlands, and Whale Bone Point. Mark Robinson said at the time:

[It is] the largest publicly-accessible conservation area outside of the National Seashore on the Lower Cape…. Almost two miles of public trails have been established, viewing benches installed and parking defined. More importantly, the recurring partnership between the town and WCT on land deal has enabled us to work closely on other open space projects throughout Wellfleet.

Mark H. Robinson, WCT Newsletter, Fall 2010

Mark’s complete article in that newsletter describes the complicated process to acquire such a beautiful property. It includes a map of the area and the trails, as well as several photos.

Welcome, Barry Turnbull

WCT’s newest trustee is Barry Turnbull, Ph.D. Barry grew up in Wellfleet and graduated from Nauset Regional High school in the early 1970’s. He worked summers at the Yum Yum Tree and the Wellfleet Recreation and Beach programs. Barry met his wife Dawn Hill in Wellfleet, and they split their time between Wellfleet and Needham, Mass. for about thirty years. Barry was a Biostatistician for Squibb, Parexel and Alkermes before forming a clinical trials consulting company with others from Boston University. Their company was later bought by a larger healthcare firm in 2005. Since then, Barry has consulted with pharmaceutical and biotech firms and volunteered his statistical services to the Dana Farber Cancer Center plus serving on numerous data monitoring committees for local biotech companies.

Barry, Dawn and their four children spent their summers in Wellfleet with their kids working at the Chequessett Club, Wellfleet Recreation Program, Moby Dick’s and the Catch of the Day.  Dawn and Barry returned to Wellfleet full time in 2015 and have since volunteered at the Wellfleet Library and the 246 Plus Mustard Seed Kitchens. They also started a family scholarship for Wellfleet residents graduating from Nauset High.

Barry can be frequently found riding around town on his old Triumph or golfing at Chequessett. He and Dawn are also often in Wellfleet Harbor on their boat with family and friends.

“I am very excited to now be a part of the Wellfleet Conservation Trust. The amount of unbuilt space outside of the National Seashore that currently exists in Wellfleet is dramatically less than when I was growing up here. Setting aside land for conservation and recreation is of great importance to the people of the town and key to the town’s overall sustainability. Of course, this must be balanced against the need of land for affordable housing and the requirement for shore lands useable for water recreation and shellfishing,” Barry said.

He continued, “Moving forward I hope to help the WCT with further land acquisition and assisting in fund raising needed to best carry out our mission. Maintaining existing trails in WCT properties is always needed and I look forward to doing that as well.”

The Trust welcomes you, Barry!

Wellfleet Conservation Trust preserves four new parcels in Fall, 2020

By Denny O’Connell

Following the landmark Herring River Overlook acquisition in late summer, the Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) has acquired four additional new properties this Fall. These properties are at various locations around town, adding an additional 12 acres of land in conservation. Founded in 1984, WCT now conserves a total of over 417 acres of land.


Jack Hennessey donated a 1.08 acre buildable lot in the northern part of Wellfleet at 121 Meadow View. It is the entirety of a kettle hole formed in glacial times when a stagnant ice bock finally melted leaving a depression in the sand and gravel landscape. It hosts white and black oak and red maple and provides a mix of upland and swamp habitat; the steep banks offer good burrows for fox and coyotes to den. The ridge on its north side leads over to the Herring River valley.

Mr. Hennessey, a retired professor, lives next door. “It is good to see this lot permanently protected,” said Mr. Hennessey, “I bought it for privacy protection and now I can rest easy knowing WCT will continue to take care of it.” WCT plans to keep this property in its natural state, thus protecting the habitat and ground water resources.

Janis Swain sold WCT a small buildable lot at 11 Paine Avenue off Old Wharf Road at a discount. This is the first of a two-part purchase in which the Swain family has agreed to sell both lots to us at a bargain. The second purchase will be consummated in 2023, when the family can benefit from the Massachusetts Conservation Land Tax Credit program.

These lots are at the edge of the late-1800s Miles-Merrill subdivision around Old Wharf Point and its approach. The plan predated zoning in Wellfleet and the lots are as small as 5000 square feet! Many were combined and built on, resulting in a maze of cottages on sand roads.

The Swain lots border an abandoned swamp garden where the early residents diked off upper reaches of salt marsh and dried them out to create planting fields. The dikes have broken down over time and some of the tallest invasive Phragmites reeds in town grow in the swamp now.

In 1992, Janis and her late husband, Douglas Swain, benefitted WCT when they donated a one acre parcel on Mill Hill Island. Since then, the WCT and Town, in the care and custody of the Conservation Commission, have acquired all of the 6-acre island in Loagy Bay, so the Island is permanently conserved.

Most recently, WCT purchased two lots from the Richard B. Butterfield estate. The first lot is a buildable, sloping 0.63 acre marsh-front lot located at 130 Bayberry Lane. The second parcel is ten-acres of salt marsh wrapping around the Bayberry Lane neighborhood and up Silver Springs.

The marsh parcel connects to a ¾-acre parcel purchased by WCT in 1994, which in turn connects with other WCT parcels at the intersection of Lt. Island Road and Bayberry Lane. On the east side, the lot connects to the WCT-Town Bayberry Hill Conservation Area.

Salt marshes have been recognized to have very high conservation values for coastal resilience and for being productive breeding grounds for fin and shell fisheries. These parcels will be retained in their natural state.

New open space map

Thanks to the hard work of Mary Doucette, Year 22 Member of AmeriCorps Cape Cod, we now have a new open space map for Wellfleet.

The map is in portable document format (pdf), meaning that it should be easily viewable on most computers, tablets, and phones. At 900 dots per inch, the detail is amazing, showing roads, buildings, ponds, beaches, and more.

It displays lands managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet Conservation Trust (both Trust lands and conservation restrictions), the Town Conservation Commission, Mass Audubon, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

It’s worth noting , as you can see on the map, that many of the lands abut others, making possible extended walking trails and unrestricted views.

You can see a thumbnail version of the map on the home page of the Wellfleet Conservation Trust site. If you click on that small map, you should be able to see the much more detailed pdf version. That one can be viewed online, zooming in or out, or downloaded for more detailed offline study or printing.

AmeriCorps Worker Mary Doucette – In Her Own Words

This year the Trust welcomes new AmeriCorps worker Mary Doucette, a native of Brewster.    We interviewed Mary for an article in the newsletter, but the full text printed here in her own words captures much more of Mary’s exuberance and willingness to serve WCT and Wellfleet. 

Growing up on Cape Cod

I was always outside! My mom took me and my siblings to Crosby Beach all the time in the summer, and I spent many weekends hiking through Nickerson State Park. I spent pretty much all my time during my adolescence either at school, in nature, or flipping pancakes at the Brewster Coffee Shop.

Nauset Regional High School Experience

I feel very fortunate to have gone to NRHS, it prepared me so well for college, especially with my writing abilities and techniques (I was a writing tutor at Eckerd College and I think the preparation NRHS gave me was the biggest reason I was able to get that position). I was very heavily involved with the music department, specifically choir, during my time there; I was in concert choir for two years and treble choir for my last two.

Inspirational Teachers

Mrs. Beavan and Mr. Faris were my choir conductors throughout my time at school, and they were very supportive and inspirational individuals. Because of their guidance and support I continued pursuing music in college as an extracurricular activity. I became the president of my college’s a cappella group and during my presidency we were accepted to Carnegie Hall to perform in an international concert (which was sadly postponed due to COVID-19). I was also inspired by Katie Ilkovich, who was my field hockey coach. She is such a memorable part of my high school years, and I always had a great time with her! I think my biggest inspiration however, is my college mentor, Doctor Lisa Miller, who really guided me through my academic journey and has helped me grow as a student and figure out what I want to do with my life.

First awareness of AmeriCorps opportunities

I first really became aware of AmeriCorps while volunteering with the Dennis Conservation Land Trust in the summer of 2018; I worked a few times alongside their ACC placement that year, and then started looking into it myself. In the summer of 2019, I was the intern at the Brewster Conservation Trust and I spent a lot of time with their placement that year, CJ, and got to know more about ACC.

Decision to Join AmeriCorps

I loved working with ACC year 20 and I really enjoyed what I learned about the program itself from seeing it firsthand. I knew I wanted to take a year off between undergrad and grad school, so it really seemed like the best option for me!

Interest in the Environment

Growing up on the Cape definitely influenced my interest in the environment! I am extremely grateful that I was able to grow up in an area where I could go out my front door and be able to walk to the bike path, Nickerson State Park, beaches, and a multitude of trails. I have always been an environmentalist because of this, and my passion continued to grow when I left the Cape for college and was able to experience a wider variety of ecosystems and learn more about the natural world in a higher education setting.


I attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and just graduated this past May. I double majored in sociology and environmental studies, with a minor in biology. I love academics and spent a lot of time in the library studying! I am really proud of all that I accomplished in my undergrad career: I was accepted into the Southern Sociological Society’s 2020 annual meeting in a paper session for environmental sociology research I conducted and asked to be the presider for the session; I was part of the American Sociological Association Honors Program at their national conference for a paper on how race and gender influence income in top earners; I was a teaching assistant for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and for a sociology course; I was a writing tutor; and I was chosen as a research assistant for Doctor Lisa Miller’s work on aging LGBTQ+ individuals. Even with all my academics I still made time for extracurricular activities like a cappella, camping in the Everglades, visiting springs, and adventuring around the St. Petersburg area.

Special Area of ecology

I am really interested in the social aspects of the environment, such as the relationship between human society and the natural world! Aside from that though, I truly enjoy learning about all other facets of ecology. I think it’s crazy how every species has evolved over thousands of years to be just as it is now, and there’s a reason for why it evolved that way! It is just mind boggling.

Accomplishments with the Brewster Trust

Over the past two summers as their intern, I have done a lot with the BCT! I’ve made over 50 maps for them, an environmental education video series, installed a kiosk and a bridge, and have learned to use all the power tools in their shed. I think my top accomplishment though, is the mere fact that over the course of two summers I never got poison ivy, and only had one run in with a tick.

Changes Last March

In March, my college closed the campus, and my two friends and I packed up a Penske truck and drove straight home. I then finished up my last semester of college online, which had its challenges, but I made it through and graduated in my kitchen surrounded by my family!

Work Schedule 

I serve with Wellfleet Conservation Trust on Tuesdays, and then on Wednesdays and Thursdays I am with the Brewster Conservation Trust. On Mondays and Fridays, I partake in group service with my team to help service partners, like the WCT, carry out projects.

Wellfleet Tasks

I will be updating their current Wellfleet Open Space map, and hopefully will be able to do more GIS work for the WCT. I will also be helping update and manage their property books, create new ones, etc. Outside of the office, I will be helping with land stewardship efforts, such as inspecting properties, engaging with volunteers, doing trail maintenance (and hopefully creating a trail).

AmeriCorps Arrangements this Year

This year, AmeriCorps Cape Cod has four houses as opposed to the usual three (now there is one in each section of the Cape). Three other members and I live in the newest addition, the Devine House in Chatham. We combine with the LeHac house in Wellfleet to make up the Outer Cape team! There are also less members, 16 instead of 24. This way we can be evenly spread out across the Cape, with four members in each house and supervisors in two of the houses.


My family is from Brewster, so I am only a ten minute drive away, so I am able to stop by my parents’ house to visit my mom, dad, younger sister, and our two Bernese mountain dog puppies (Ellie, 10 months old; Tucker, 6 months old). I also have an older brother who lives in Boston, and an older sister who is doing a fellowship at the Newport Mansions this year! I am 100% a dog person, so I stop by my parents’ house often to see my dogs; the two pups get so unbelievably excited when I pull into the driveway and I will never get tired of it.

Favorite Activities

I love rollerblading, it’s one of my biggest passions! I try to get out on the bike path as often as I can and skate for miles. Skating is one thing that without fail, puts a smile on my face and puts me in a great mood. I have to admit that I do dance while I’m on my skates, there’s just nothing like popping in my headphones and skating to the rhythm. I also love making music, whether that be singing, playing the ukulele, practicing the drums (I am a beginner still), dabbling on the piano, or writing songs. I may not be the best at any of them, but it’s definitely a creative outlet and so I jam out whenever possible. My team hangs out a lot (safely and socially distanced), and so it has been a lot of fun showing my teammates around the Cape; they make doing tourist-y things fun.

Future plans

I am currently in the process of applying for sociology Ph.D. programs where I plan to study environmental sociology and become a researcher and professor. I particularly want to study environmental inequality and how climate change has and will continue to impact different minority groups (mainly race and gender).

Other facts about MaryI love volunteering! On the Cape, I have volunteered with Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Eastham WildCare, Dennis Conservation Land Trust, and Sipson Island Trust. I also spent three weeks in Peru building a school in the outskirts of Lima as a service project with my college, which was a humbling and beautiful experience both while working on the school and because we were able to travel around the county, we saw the Nazca lines from a plane, and hiked Machu Picchu!

I have been vegan for almost five years now!

The more dirt and sweat I have on me by the end of the day, the more satisfied I am with my work! I love working in the field and getting into the thick of it, whether it’s crawling through brambles to pull garlic mustard, or trekking through a drainage ditch while dodging poison ivy to get coordinates for a map, I am game for anything.

So there you have it – our hard working, singing, dog-loving, rollerblading, vegan, down in the dirt, vibrant Mary Doucette.

COASTSWEEP 2020  Update

Image from last year's COASTSWEEP
Image from last year’s COASTSWEEP

In October, WCT and its cosponsors normally hold a coordinated “sweep” of debris and trash around Wellfleet Harbor beaches under the Statewide COASTSWEEP program. For the past five years we have done the SWEEP during mid-October and then reported our results to the State’s Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

Due to COVID-19 related issues, we cannot hold a regular program, so we encourage you to enjoy the beaches and safely remove debris and trash (hopefully not much, as we encountered last year).  We will evaluate the program in 2021, but for now, please enjoy our special place and stay healthy and safe.