Museum Land Trust Adds Land Parcels

H.L. Ferguson Museum Land Trust Acquires Three Land Parcels on the East End

February 2021

The idea for the H.L. Ferguson Museum Land Trust was first conceived in the late 1970s by Island seasonal residents Erard “Matty” Matthiessen and Robert “Bob” Miller as a means of protecting the fragile ecosystems around Island Pond, Middle Farms and Middle Farms Pond. Thanks to the generous donations of numerous individuals and FIDCO, the Land Trust has grown to encompass over 350 protected acres on Fishers Island, including parcels adjacent to the two ponds.

The Museum has just announced the addition of three new parcels to the Land Trust that expand protection around both Island Pond and Middle Farms Pond.

The new acquisitions are shown in red. On the lower left is the donated Borland property, southwest of the donated Haver/Skolnick property. The Town purchase is to the upper right. Other Land Trust properties in this area are outlined in yellow. The Land Trust is in communication with the Town about a proposed route for an unpaved walking trail (shown in lavender) that would extend over the two adjacent Land Trust properties.

“These recent acquisitions are extremely important—not only because of the environmental aspects of each parcel, but also because they extend and expand the mid-Island sanctuary area, which includes Middle Farms, Treasure, Beach, Island and Perch Ponds and, of course, the well field for the island’s water supply,” said Bob Miller, head of the Museum’s Land Trust.

In September 2020, Charles Haver and Stewart R. Skolnick deeded a 1.54-acre parcel adjacent to Perch Pond, which is the small pond just across the main road from Island Pond (a.k.a. the Oyster Pond). The parcel contains a meadow that will be maintained as such. In December 2020, Anne J. Borland deeded an adjoining 2.38-acre parcel also across the road from Island Pond.

In July 2020, final agreement was reached with the Town of Southold for an exclusive license for the Land Trust to manage a 5.35-acre parcel, which the Museum was instrumental in having the Town acquire for open space. This parcel has frontage on and expands protection around Middle Farms Pond.

Prior to these acquisitions, the three parcels were defined as buildable lots by FIDCO from the original Olmsted Plan. The parcels are now subject to the Museum’s standard covenants to ensure that they will be held in their natural state in perpetuity.

“Protection of our wetland areas and the rich and diverse flora and fauna they contain has been a major focus of the Land Trust since its first acquisitions in Middle Farms in the late 1970s,” said Miller. With respect to the timing of these gifts in 2020, he observed that the pandemic brought many people to the Island to shelter, and the trails through Land Trust properties were used to an unprecedented extent.

“Perhaps the circumstances of 2020 made more people realize how precious the open space of the Island is—and some, like Anne Borland and Charles Haver and Stewart Skolnick, were in a position to make critical donations in what is perhaps our most significant sanctuary area.”

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