EDGARTOWN, Mass. – In partnership with the Town of Edgartown, The Trustees will begin the first phase of work to nourish and restore the dunes and trails at Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. This is part of a two-phased project that will ultimately support the modification of an existing trail to provide recreational fishing access and beachgoing at Tom’s Neck Point and retire and restore trails that are consistently flooding.
The project will commence the week of Nov. 27 and require that the Cape Poge beach be temporarily closed to visitors while work is ongoing. Cape Poge visitors are asked to check the Trustees’ social media pages daily for updates on closures and the work associated with the project.
This first phase of the project will use sand dredged from Cape Poge Bay to restore and nourish the existing Tom’s Neck OSV access trails and East Beach. This work will build greater beach and dune resiliency by preventing storm surge from entering the dunes and the Cedars natural community and adding sand to the narrow East Beach. Nourishment of these vulnerable areas will prepare the site for the next phase of restoration, which will retire a portion of the existing crossover trail to the bayside and relocate this trail to an area less vulnerable to flooding and erosion.
If final funding for the project is secured, the new crossover trail will replace the existing bayside access trail to Tom’s Neck. Restoration on the retired trails will mitigate habitat disturbance from creating a new section of OSV crossover trail in the dune and maritime forest, so the project will have a net conservation and resilience benefit.
“This work is part of our commitment to ensure special places like Cape Poge are resilient in the face of sea level rise and accessible for all future residents and visitors of Martha’s Vineyard. The trail to Tom’s Neck is consistently closed due to flooding and we are excited to secure a more resilient OSV access trail to this beloved place,” said Darci Schofield, Islands Portfolio Director for The Trustees. “Tom’s Neck is a popular destination for anglers, shellfishermen, and beachgoers providing access to the pristine waters of Cape Poge Bay.”
Typically, Cape Poge has had OSV access along the bayside to support recreational fishing, shellfishing, and quiet waters beach recreation. Over the last several decades, bayside OSV access has diminished due to erosion and sea level rise.
Schofield said higher tides, astronomical tides, persistent winds, and sea level rise regularly flood the OSV access trail at Tom’s Neck making access nearly impossible. The trail was closed most of the 2023 summer and fishing season due to routine flooding during high winds, astronomical tides, and sea level rise.
“We have a once in a decade opportunity to use dredge sand from Cape Poge Bay this winter to perform restoration essential to the construction of a new access trail at Tom’s Neck. We are grateful for our partnership with the Town of Edgartown for supplying local dredge material from the Cape Poge Bay dredging project,” Schofield added.
Work is projected to be complete by Spring 2024. Funding for the second phase of the work is pending.
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Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 125 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit, supported by members, friends and donors and our 118 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. www.thetrustees.org.