The Town has become an important partner with the Museum in the preservation of environmentally sensitive land on Fishers Island. In 2019, facilitated by the Museum, the Town acquired a 5.33 acre lot between the Main Road and Middle Farms Pond and granted to the Museum a long-term stewardship license over the property (marked T on map). This parcel provided a significant connection between our sanctuaries on Middle Farms and other protected land to the east. The existence of this large stretch of contiguous environmentally important land was an important factor in the Town’s determination to provide funds for the purchase of the Chocomount parcel.
The decision by FIDCO to transfer the Chocomount parcel for preservation and to donate the Osprey Nest parcel also further evidences FIDCO’s extraordinary commitment to conservation on the Island. FIDCO has donated over 130 acres to the Land Trust. It is by far the largest contributor of land for sanctuary areas. FIDCO’s donation of the Osprey Nest parcel will provide the “bridge” connecting our sanctuaries in the critical mid-Island area.
It is important to note that these three new parcels contain seven building sites identified on the June 1926 Olmsted Plan for development of the East End, which has been accepted as a de facto subdivision plan by the Town of Southold and Suffolk County. So, in addition to the huge benefit to the environment from these acquisitions, there will be seven fewer potential houses to be built – and to impact our viewsheds, roads, utilities, and other resources. Fishers Island’s wellfield is within the sanctuary area, and a hydrologic study indicated that an important portion of our watershed area is within the Chocomount and Osprey Nest parcels.
The Museum in 1981 included in its mission statement the preservation in perpetuity of undeveloped property in its natural state. Since then, there have been more than 80 separate transactions resulting in the preservation and protection of 352.62 acres throughout the Island (including the Roosevelt parcel). The acquisition of the two FIDCO parcels will bring this total to almost 375 acres. It seems inevitable that the pace of land preservation must slow, and that the focus of the Land Trust will increasingly be on the management and stewardship of the properties for which we are responsible. But this seems an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the many who have donated land (see adjoining list), or financial support, or time and talent to make possible this progress in protecting the Island’s environmental assets and natural beauty.