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.]

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.

Drummer Cove site work and trail making

From the Spring 2016 WCT Newsletter:

On December 31, 2015 the WCT reached a long sought after goal – completing the acquisition of the Drummer Cove “Link Lot” in South Wellfleet. Your contributions were essential to making this possible. Thanks to you this beautiful spot is now protected and open for all to enjoy.

Individual donations were the largest source of our funding, but the WCT also received grants from the Massachusetts Conservation Partnership Program, the Bafflin Foundation, the Fields Ponds Foundation and the Cape Cod 5 Saving Bank Foundation. Thanks to these organizations and your generous support, we were able to assemble all of the funding needed to close on the property by year end.

The lot is located on the northwest shore line of Drummer Cove and provides a vital “link” between several conservation properties. Since it preserves critical coast line habitat, this land is of the highest conservation priority. Additionally, there are valuable public and historic benefits to preserving this parcel. Once part of a historic and picturesque walking trail that led from Pleasant Point to the Pond Hill School, public access to this land had been restricted since 2001 by an infamous spite fence. With our acquisition of this property the fence has been razed, and the Drummer Cove trail is now restored for public enjoyment.

We never would have been able to accomplish this without your support. Thank you!

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Ninth Annual Walk, LeCount’s Hollow

From the Fall 2015 WCT Newsletter:

Ten thousand steps – that’s what one participant’s pedometer recorded on September 12 at the end of the Trust’s 9th Annual Guided Walk that began and ended at the LeCount’s Hollow Beach parking lot. The 4 mile walk included talks at the start and at five points along the route by South Wellfleet historian Pam Tice, and by Trustees Dennis O’Connell, Bill Iacuessa, Dwight Estey, Don Palladino, and Mary Rogers.

Around seventy-five enthusiastic walkers gathered at 9 a.m. on a perfect day in the parking lot where President Dennis O’Connell and Walk Director Bill Iacuessa welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers. Mary Rogers discussed the original Maguire co”ages which were located at the beach. Pam Tice gave history of the brief-lived German glider school and Cook’s Camp to the south of the area.

The group headed up Ocean View Drive and into the woods along a trail that comes out onto the old Buffum Road, the way into Wellfleet-by-the-Sea before Ocean View Drive was built. The first stop was at a Modernist house, designed by Olaf Hammerstrom around a preexisting dwelling. There the group learned about the old road, about the creation of Ocean View Drive, and about the Surf Side Colony which they had passed on the way into the woods.

From there, the walkers went deep into the wood on a trail known as the “Gauntlet,” which runs roughly parallel to Ocean View Drive. Dwight Estey expanded upon the various colorful names given to different sections of the Gauntlet according to their terrain. The group proceeded west to the outskirts of the WCT Clover Trail. The walkers followed the railroad bed to LeCount Hollow Road, passed through the Rail Trail parking area and crossed Blackfish Creek, walking along the bike trail. From a vantage point high above the east side of Blackfish Creek, Pam Tice gave background on the early South Wellfleet General Store and Post Office, and Don Palladino discussed Blackfish Creek.

The group followed an old section of the Old King’s Highway to Marconi Wireless Road. In front of the newly rebuilt home of Bill Carlson and Lonni Briggs on Marconi Wireless Road, Dennis O’Connell explained their conservation restriction (CR), and Bill Iacuessa discussed the Marconi Station, which was located on top of the dune at the end of the sand road. This was the last stop before returning to the starting point, LeCount’s Hollow Beach parking lot. The total walk took about two and a half hours at a leisurely pace.

Participants were delighted with the walk which opened up new territory to many from Wellfleet and from far away. Come back again next year. We’re already making plans for our 10th Annual Guided Walk in Wellfleet on the Saturday after Labor Day.


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