The family of the late Edwin Newhall (Bob) Woods has permanently gifted 500 acres of rare and unspoiled oak forest, grassland and frost bottom to The Nature Conservancy, the conservancy announced late Monday.
Long known as the Frances Newhall Woods Preserve, the ecologically diverse property sits in the heart of West Tisbury and reaches into Chilmark, bounded by Middle Road, North Road, the Panhandle and the West Tisbury-Chilmark town line. It includes upland oak forest that is habitat for scarlet tanagers and other songbirds as well as pocket wetlands, vernal pools and a pond. The Mill Brook runs through the property.
The Nature Conservancy has held a conservation restriction on the property since 1991, a gift from Bob and Jeanne Woods, both dedicated Island conservationists. The restriction will now be transferred to the Vineyard Conservation Society as conservancy takes ownership (the same organization cannot own and hold a conservation restriction on a property).
Bob and Jeanne Woods both died in 2011, and their wish that the land be permanently gifted to the conservancy has been carried out by their three children.
“Beginning in the 1980s, our parents, with the advice of Island visionaries, concurred that because of its primarily undisturbed and significant conservation value, the property would become a nature and wildlife preserve in perpetuity,” said daughter Francine Woods in a press release.
“Bob truly loved this piece of the Vineyard, and he ensured that it would be protected forever,” said Tom Chase, a longtime Island director for the Nature Conservancy on the Vineyard.
Guided walks on the property will continue, the conservancy said.