During the 1970s, the town worked with VCS and the Commonwealth to adopt coastal wetland regulations. In 1980, VCS took the lead in facilitating the purchase of a strategic property near the cliffs. More than half the money came from donations from town residents.
Soon after, the town successfully designated 186 acres along Moshup Trail as a special zoning overlay district, a District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC), later expanded to include the entire town.
During the 1990s, VCS acquired the first of several key parcels and conservation restrictions starting in 1996 with the help of the David H. Smith family, as well as other public and private sources. Since then, through advocacy, fundraising, fiscal agency, acquisition, and litigation, we have led the continuing fight to preserve this priceless vestige of coastal heathlands -- a habitat type that has been eliminated throughout more than 90% of its historical range, due largely to development.
Twenty-five small lots totaling 38.4 acres have been protected at a cost of $2,727,500. Some were protected through donation of conservation restrictions (CRs) or outright gifts of land. VCS holds title to nine lots in the project area. The Town of Aquinnah, through its Conservation Commission, holds three more.
Funding for the Moshup Trail Project has been made available through the generosity of many private donors, the Cedar Tree Neck Foundation, the Scheuer family, the Edey Foundation, the Helm Foundation, the Abraham and Ruth Krieger Foundation, the Sweet Water Trust, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
For over a decade, VCS, joined by other conservation-minded interests, has been engaged in a legal battle to defend the Moshup heathlands from developers intent on building a subdivision access road through this fragile and rare resource. Read more about our legal defense efforts here, or contact Executive Director Brendan O'Neill at (508) 693-9588.