Open Land Code
To most residents and visitors, Nantucket's vast expanses of protected open space are what make it such a special place. More than 13,350 acres of land, or approximately 45 percent of the Island, have already been protected by numerous private, nonprofit conservation groups and governmental agencies. These properties include beaches, rolling grasslands and heathlands, ponds, bogs, shrublands, and forests that are annually visited and enjoyed by tens of thousands of people. Several of these habitats (natural groupings of plants and animals) are rare to this region and even the world.
The Nantucket Heathlands Partnership is a coalition of the island's conservation interests that is concerned with the preservation and management of Nantucket's heathlands, grasslands, and other open lands. Member organizations of the Partnership have authored and promoted the "Open Lands Code," which lists simple and traditional steps that have been taken to safeguard the natural resources that we all enjoy. This public awareness campaign was developed to encourage Nantucket's residents and visitors to protect and respect the island's natural areas. The Code reads as follows:
PROTECT the fragile plants on our dunes, grasslands and heathlands
Nantucket's soils are very fragile and very eroded. Plant material, whether living or dead, helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. Furthermore, many of Nantucket's plants are rare and endangered and protected by law.
KEEP vehicles and bikes on well-established roads
Driving over fragile plants just once will leave scars that take years to heal. Repeated crossings destroy plants and cause severe erosion problems, especially in sandy soils near the shoreline and hilly heathland sites.
LEAVE wild flowers for all to enjoy
Removing wild flowers prevents them from setting and dispersing seed, thus jeopardizing the next generation of plants. Moreover, some species of rare wild flowers, such as New England blazing star and Eastern silvery aster, are listed as protected plants.
PREVENT your dog from disturbing wildlife
Nantucket's grasslands, heathlands, and beaches provide important habitat for several rare and endangered ground-nesting birds, including the short-eared owl, northern harrier, piping plover, least tern, and American oystercatcher. Dogs can and will disturb adults and destroy eggs and chicks of these species, which are protected by strict state and federal laws. Please keep your dog on a leash or leave it at home.
TAKE litter home
Carelessly discarded trash ruins the experience of other visitors, and attracts natural scavengers that may have detrimental impacts on nearby wildlife. Also, litter must be cleaned up by open space managers, at the expense of other important projects.
RESPECT private property
Most of Nantucket's protected open spaces are open to the public, some with limitations. Many are bordered by private property. Please join in our efforts to be good and responsible neighbors.
The Nantucket Heathlands Partnership:
Massachusetts Audubon Society - Nantucket Conservation Foundation.- University of Massachusetts Boston - Nantucket Islands Land Bank Commission - The Nature Conservancy - Maria Mitchell Association - Nantucket Civic League - Nantucket Land Council - Nantucket Garden Club - Nantucket Historical Association - The Partnership for Harrier Habitat Preservation