The topography of Nantucket was influenced by the geological conditions that created the island. The glacier that covered the New England area began its retreat more than 21,000 years ago. Meltwater carried geologic debris south to the ocean and rising sea levels eventually separated Nantucket from the mainland, leaving behind the familiar island landscape of kettle ponds, glacial moraine, and outwash plains.
The natural communities found on Nantucket represent a diversity of habitats that are home to numerous plant and animal species. At the Linda Loring Nature Foundation, the 108 acres of open space is dominated by coastal heathlands, sandplain grasslands, and vegetated wetlands. These habitats provide sanctuary for an abundance of wildlife. The heathlands and sandplain grassland communities are designated as globally threatened ecosystems and are also home to a number of species listed by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP). Additionally, the Nantucket Land Council documented two vernal pools on the property which have been certified by NHESP. Biological inventories have identified five plant species listed by NHESP as rare in Massachusetts, Corema conradii (broom crowberry), Linum intercursum (yellow flax), Crocanthemum dumosum (bushy rockrose), Amelanchier nantucketensis (Nantucket shadbush), and Sisyrinchium fuscatum (sandplain blue-eyed grass) were documented by Robert Zaremba (1983). The open landscape also provides excellent breeding habitat for the graceful Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). In addition to the wildlife that lives on the property, an abundance of migratory species find refuge here.
Complete inventories of the property will evaluate the presence of other species of special interest and contribute to an overall land management plan for the property. Education through the outdoor classroom at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation will deepen one’s connection to nature and strengthen the understanding of conservation issues and ecological relationships of the local environment, thus promoting habitat protection. A self-guided scenic trail is open to the public. The trail is approximately one mile long and is fairly easy walking with a few modest inclines. Pick up the Visitor’s Trail Guide, filled with information about plants and wildlife you might spot along the trail. The trails are for walking and the quiet enjoyment of nature. Please note: horses, dogs, bicycles and smoking are not allowed because they are a threat to wildlife and disturb other visitors.