Cape Cod island jewel opens to public again after more than 300 years

Cape Cod island jewel opens to public again after more than 300 years

ORLEANS, Mass. — To many, Sipson Island is magical.“There’s beautiful white sand beaches surrounding that island. It’s rocky on the western shore, there are dramatic steep cliffs,” said Tasia Blough, president of Sipson Island Trust.

“It’s a powerful place,” Blough said of the island off of Cape Cod.

It was all the back in 1711 when ownership of the island last changed hands.

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“It was sold by the last Nauset sachem to a private owner, and that was the last time it was publicly accessible,” Blough said.

(Sipson Island Trust/Sipson Island Trust)

Sipson Island Trust is part of the major fundraising coalition that came together to buy the island back and preserve it for conservation.

“We were able to raise the money in a year and half with the help of Friends of Pleasant Bay,” Blough said. “Sipson Island Trust, we were able to found it as a nonprofit. We wrote a land management plan for the next five years.”

A lot of hard work that has paid off in a pretty spectacular prize for the public. That prize was a special place for Native Americans.

“This was a very important place for native peoples,” Blough said. “We see it as a window to the past and I hope people can feel that powerful energy and history.”

An island jewel that spans 24 acres in the middle of an area of critical environmental concern.

“There’s a lot of diverse habitats, there’s a fringe salt marsh, there’s woodlands,” Blough said.

Preserving and protecting that was a driving force behind the effort to buy it, open it up and eventually educate Bay Staters and beyond about its history and habitat.

(Sipson Island Trust/Sipson Island Trust)

“There’s a lot to see, its beautiful,” Blough said.

Sipson Island Trust gave the following statement about the island and its new public access:

Our goal is to protect the island while making it accessible to the public, especially those who might not otherwise have access to it, so heavy traffic is not what we are looking for. We want to make sure the island is accessible, appreciated, but not overused. This is a place where our goal is for visitors (and students in the future) to learn respect and appreciation for land and the natural world as was the way of those who inhabited the island before 1711 (when the island was last accessible to the public). We want to give back to the island and honor the native people who were here before us. The best we know how to do that is by learning, upholding, applying, and teaching (to the best of our ability) the principles and values of those indigenous people. To us, that means sharing the island, giving back to the island, restoring it to a balanced and natural state, and teaching others to do the same. These principles align directly with SIT’s mission, which is based on preservation, education, research and fostering an understanding of the island’s history and indigenous significance.
Sipson Island Trust