For the Love of the Land

by Dr. Sarah T. Bois, Director of Research & Education for the Linda Loring Nature Foundation

Linda Loring Nature Foundation | Nantucket, MA

Linda Loring at a recent event at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Linda Loring Nature Foundation.

As the Director of Research and Education at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation (LLNF), I am often asked about our founder, Linda Loring; who she is and what her vision was in creating the LLNF. Linda Loring is a visionary with conservation and wildlife preservation as her primary focus. At a time when the sleepy island of Nantucket was not the destination it is today, she had a vision of the future. With development on the island she loved slowly increasing, she saw what could happen to the landscape and the creatures that live there. So, in 1957 Linda began purchasing parcels to piece together what would later become over 270 acres of conserved open space between Madaket and Eel Point Roads.

Linda’s passion for the land doesn’t stop at the sandplain grasslands, vernal pools, and rolling hills of the land she’s preserved. Her love for wildlife led her to create the LLNF as a wildlife sanctuary. However, her primary goal has always been about education and connecting people, especially children, to nature. She envisioned the Eel Point Road property as an outdoor classroom where people of all ages can come and learn about the environment of Nantucket or simply immerse themselves in the quiet enjoyment of the natural world.

Today the LLNF boasts a research and education program preserving the landscape as a “Living Laboratory”‘ for all ages to enjoy. The property is open to the public (sun up to sun down) which boasts a walking trail with a short and long loop. Programming carries on for all ages continuing Linda Loring’s original vision of opening the natural world for all to enjoy and explore.

Linda Loring | Nantucket

Linda Loring in the summer of 1939. Photo courtesy of the NHA.

Recently The Nature Conservancy donated an additional 18 acres of land to the LLNF bringing the total acreage up to 104. The landscapes found there include the globally rare sandplain grassland and heathland communities which are home to a number of species listed by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. There are vernal pools, shrub swamps, and pine forests. LLNF is considered a wildlife preserve where ground nesting birds such as Northern Harriers, and Eastern Towhees nest every year. The Osprey pole is visible from the office windows and is monitored by staff and visitors alike every season for hatch and fledgling success.

Hundreds of school children come through on field trips, nature walks, and other science programming. Vistas of Long Pond and the various wading ducks can be seen from the LLNF offices as well as along the walking trail. The LLNF Story Walk has been a popular stop for families of all ages, particularly the preschool set. These stories are also translated into Spanish ensuring that more of the Nantucket community can enjoy nature at their comfort level.

In additional to the educational programming, the LLNF boasts a research program where staff scientists as well as visiting researchers investigate all aspects of biodiversity on the island, including plant phenology, climate change, precipitation, snake diversity, deer browse impacts, seed dispersal, and more. All of the research has some outreach component bringing the science to the public via direct engagement, observation, or public talks.

How can you enjoy this gem of a Nantucket property? Head out to 110 eel Point Rd. There is a large parking lot, a kiosk at the head of the trail with maps and information, and an office that has bathroom facilities and a place to fill up water bottles. See all of the programming available at www.llnf.org. She started the process of creating the foundation which bears her name in 1999 when the Linda Loring Nature Foundation became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It wasn’t until 2007, however, that the organization became operational. That’s when the Nantucket Land Council purchased the conservation easement on the entire 270 acres of on Eel Point Road. Linda then divided her personal property, giving 84 acres to start the LLNF.

Programs include weekly bird walks on Wednesday mornings, plant and nature walks every Friday morning, summer Kids in Nature workshops, family programming , and more.

Interested in a solo mission? The trails at LLNF are open sun-up to sundown all year. There is a selfguided nature walk with numbered posts along the way. Pick up a brochure at the kiosk at the head of the trail and you can read all about this beautiful property. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy the property, but the Linda Loring Nature Foundation would love your support to help fulfill their mission of bringing nature to everyone.