Respond to a Changing Coast

The Trustees protects over 120 miles of coastline in Massachusetts—more than any other private landowner in the state. In the face of a rapidly changing climate, we have both the responsibility and the expertise to be national coastal conservation leaders.

We have already witnessed accelerating changes at our coastal places and the impacts from stronger storm surges and sea level rise are projected to rapidly intensify in the years ahead. Our need to adapt our reservations, and the coastlines and communities of which they are a part, is one of the biggest conservation challenges we will face this century.  

Through Momentum, we have rebuilt dunes on barrier beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, initiated work to build a brand-new climate-resilient waterfront park in Boston, and at North Shore’s Great Marsh we have embarked on the single largest ecological restoration project in Trustees history.

The Trustees recognizes that we stand at an inflection point, much as our founder Charles Eliot did in 1891. Eliot and his generation faced the major threats of rapid development and privatization, just as we face the climate-based threats of today. Thanks to our Momentum donors, we are doing all we can to protect these irreplaceable landscapes so that future generations can continue to enjoy our coastal treasures.

Major Accomplishments:  

  • Through federal funding and grant supported work in partnership with the Town of Ipswich, we are working through a multi-phase project to elevate a half-mile section of Argilla Road, the only land access to the Crane Estate and Crane Beach. The project includes implementing nature-based designs to protect the road from erosion and installing a new culvert under the road to improve tidal flow in the salt marsh.
  • We launched One Waterfront, our ambitious Boston Waterfront Initiative, which advances a bold vision for iconic, public open space on the Boston waterfront. Through this initiative we have created a CEO Roundtable that harnesses the strategic power of public, private, and community leaders, a youth waterfront ambassador program, and have embarked on the creation of The Trustees’ first climate-resilient waterfront park.
  • In 2020 we were awarded site designation by Massport to create a climate-resilient waterfront park, Piers Park III, on an abandoned pier in East Boston. With significant design and programming input from the local community, this will be the first new park created in Trustees history and will serve as a world-class waterfront destination.
  • We launched our annual State of the Coast report series, focusing on the climate change threats and mitigation strategies at our coastal properties and surrounding communities. The inaugural 2020 the report focused on the North Shore, the 2021 report centered on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands, and the 2022 report will focus on communities fronting Buzzards Bay, from Cape Cod through the South Coast. The annual report has been met with statewide praise and support, with the 2021 report alone garnering 58.5 million press impressions.
  • We have begun work designing a state-of-the-art Coastal Education Center at Crane Beach where visitors can learn about and be inspired by our coastline. The Center will be a regional hub for coastal exploration and education and serve as a model for sustainable design. 
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, we are restoring the primary coastal dune on South Beach and Norton Point Beach, with the goal of preserving habitat, strengthening the resiliency of coastal infrastructure, while at the same time maintaining publicly accessible shorelines.   
  • On Nantucket, under a three-year phased adaptation project, The Trustees is working to identify resilient intervention methods and adaptation strategies that can maintain beach access and sustain habitat and barrier beach integrity at Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.  
  • The Trustees and our partners are using an innovative ditch remediation method to naturally restore the health of the Great Marsh on the North Shore, allowing it to keep pace with sea level rise. The multi-year project launched in April 2020 at Old Town Hill in Newbury. A $1 million federal grant in 2021 allowed us to quadruple the scope of the project to cover more than 1,200 acres in Newbury, Essex, and Ipswich. This is the first time a project of this type has been permitted in Massachusetts and it is the largest coastal or ecological restoration project in the 131-year history of  The Trustees.