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Fundraising for the Acquisition of Sipson Island is complete!

Read the press release from Sipson Island Trust below. 


State Conservation Partnership Grant Seals Conservation Purchase

South Orleans, MA, November 16, 2020 — Sipson Island Trust, the nonprofit land trust that owns and manages most of Sipson Island in Orleans, is delighted to announce that, as of November 15, the fundraising campaign to acquire the island for conservation is complete, once all pledges are paid. With this major goal achieved, the Trust will shift its emphasis to restoring the island’s natural habitats, starting by removing dwellings on the conserved land. 

Along with a spate of private donations prompted by a generous matching gift, the awarding of an $85,000 State Conservation Partnership Grant carried the campaign to its goal. Governor Baker’s office announced the award on November 1. “We are incredibly honored, as a young organization, to be recognized with this major grant,” said Tasia Blough, President of Sipson Island Trust (SIT). “It’s a tribute to so many in the community who rallied behind a vision, rolled up their sleeves, and contributed financially and otherwise to the preservation of Sipson Island over the past two years—especially our partners and mentors at the Friends of Pleasant Bay and The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts.”

The coalition of stakeholders that formed around the project was midwifed by the Friends group, which does not own land but supports a wide range of conservation and research efforts around the bay. “Back in 2019, the Friends board made a commitment to see this thing through,” says FoPB director and coalition coordinator Bob Granger. “It was a remarkable campaign that over time pulled in residents and land trusts of all the surrounding towns, island neighbors, a creative private partner, and more than 400 generous donors from the Cape and beyond.”

Mark Robinson, who heads up The Compact, said, “Saving this last major saltwater island on the Cape is one of the two or three most important conservation projects I’ve been part of over 30 years.” He adds, “It was also exciting to be present at the birth of a new land trust. SIT has accomplished big things in its short life, and they will be great stewards of the island.”

Sipson Island Trust opened the island to visitors this past summer—the first time in three centuries that members of the public could go there. “The interest on the part of local residents and summer visitors exceeded our expectations and tested our resources,” says Blough. Balancing conservation with community access is key to the Trust’s mission, she explains. Along with “undeveloping” the land, SIT is already planning for the 2021 summer season.

Just a few years ago, the prospect of preserving Sipson Island was a gleam in the eye of FoPB past president and lead campaign fundraiser Mon Cochran, whose family has lived just across The Narrows for generations. “To me, the most inspiring part of this whole effort, in a time of great social divisiveness, has been seeing how people came together around Sipson Island. It really is the heart of Pleasant Bay.”

Thank you to the many Friends of Pleasant Bay members who supported the purchase of Sipson Island!

Proceeds from the 2020 Arey's Pond Cat Gathering were donated to the Friends of Pleasant Bay for the benefit of the Sipson Island Fund.

  • A Great Success!

    The Friends of Pleasant Bay 2020 VIRTUAL Annual Meeting 

    Monday, July 13, 2020

    Thank you for your participation!

    Guest Speaker: Kristin Andres - Association to Preserve Cape Cod

Approved: 2019 Annual Meeting Minutes, 2019-2020 Financial Report, 

2020 New Directors and 2021 Nominating Committee and 2020 Proposed Changes to the 2012 Bylaws

July 22, 2020 Cape Cod Times

Announces Sipson Island Opening to the Public

ORLEANS — When is a closing an opening? When it’s a purchase that will ensure public access to Sipson Island, which has been pri-vately held since 1711. 

On Monday, the Sipson Island Trust and its partner, the Nadler family, closed on the purchase of the Pleasant Bay gem from the Dietrich family trusts. The Trust now owns six lots and will acquire two more from the Nadlers when an additional $585,000 is raised, amounting to almost 22 of the island’s 24 acres; the remaining land will remain with the Nadlers. The entire island will be protected with conservation restrictions. 

“The raising to date of $4.8 million in private money for this acquisition may be the most extraordinary conservation success I’ve been involved with,” Mark Robinson, long-time executive director of The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, said in a press statement. The Compact was the fiscal agent for the Sipson Island Trust, which will own and manage the majority of the island. 

“I think we’re extremely fortunate to have the Nadlers step forward,” Mon Cochran, a director of Friends of Pleasant Bay and chair of fundraising efforts for the purchase, said in an interview. “They’re very conservation conscious, and at the same time they’re very open to public access, and that’s quite an unusual combination. In my lifetime, which began in 1942, not only has there been no access to the island but active resistance to any interaction with the public. This is a dramatic shift.” 


Cochran said he hopes the final half-million dollars that will allow the Sipson Island Trust to take over the two additional lots from the Nadlers can be raised by the end of the year. “Those are the two lots at the southern end of the island, basically the southern third of the island,” he said. They include a raised viewing platform. 

“The beaches will open up for access this summer,” Cochran said. “The upland needs to be surveyed for plants, and there also needs to be protection put around the buildings before we have people wandering around up there.” 

Over the next three years, three major buildings will be torn down and the land restored. The Trust will need to raise about $150,000 to accomplish that goal. The dock on the northern end of the island will be put back in service, but perhaps not this season. 

The Sipson Island Trust “is gonna be an extraordinary conservation organization,” Cochran said, “with representation from all four conservation trusts around the bay as well as many others actively involved. It will be more challenging to make decisions with a lot of people involved, but we think there’s more wisdom in that.” 

Cochran expects Pleasant Bay Community Boating, just across the bay, will be “a major educational conduit” for the island. Its 29-passenger floating classroom “Friends of Pleasant Bay” is “right on the verge of being certified by the Coast Guard for paying passengers,” said Cochran. “We’re really hoping that should happen this month or next. It will provide a wonderful venue, particularly for kids, but for children and adults. The island will become a destination.” 

In the press statement, Cochran celebrated “the phenomenal outpouring of support that got us this far. We’re especially grateful to our lead donors, some of whom have given more than once, and to the neighboring land trusts surrounding Pleasant Bay, who stepped up so generously with funding and calls to their membership… We hope that folks who may not have pitched in yet will be excited to hear that this milestone has been reached, and help us add those last two lots to the conserved land.” 

Gifts can be made at http://sipsonisland.org or by checks sent to The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts (memo; Sipson Island Project), 36 Red Top Road, Brewster, MA 02631. 


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