Travelers can now explore a Massachusetts island that just opened to the public after more than 300 years.
The 24-acre Sipson Island, in the heart of Cape Cod’s Pleasant Bay, was privately owned until last month when most of it was purchased by Sipson Island Trust, which aims to restore the island’s ecology, support environmental and historical education and research, and provide public recreation, according to its website. Saturday’s opening marked the first time the public was welcome on the land since it was sold by a Monomoyick leader to English colonists in 1711, according to the trust.
Visitors can now walk, hike, picnic, swim, bird watch, fish, and more on the island, which offers beaches, coastal banks, salt marsh, eelgrass beds, upland meadows, and woodland.
“The opening went fantastically!” wrote Tasia Blough, president of Sipson Island Trust, in a Facebook post. “After years of work, it was so rewarding to see families enjoying picnics on the island‘s shores, hiking the uplands, and fishing in the shallows.”
Guests are responsible for their own transportation to the island, the trust wrote. Visitors should access the land from the beaches on the protected eastern shore rather than from the busy channel in The Narrows on the west side, noted the trust.
In order to protect the critical marine habitat, only shallow-draft boats under 22 feet may land, and boats cannot land outside designated areas or dock without permission, wrote the trust.
Island signage asks visitors to stay on beaches and mowed paths and stay away from steep bluffs and off dunes and shoreline vegetation. Pets, fires, camping, fireworks, hunting, firearms, collecting plants, animals, or artifacts, and use of the private beach or dock below the east-side residence are prohibited. The beach immediately south of the east-side dock may be traversed but not occupied, it noted.
The trust wants to ensure that the island, which is open from sunrise to sunset, is “accessible, appreciated, but not overused,” according to Blough.
The island’s purchase was the result of a fundraising campaign led by the Friends of Pleasant Bay and the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts.
“Anyone who visits will understand why the island is such a special and magical place,” wrote Blough.
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