In a move expected to give Vineyard conservation interests unprecedented strength in shaping the Island’s future, the Vineyard Conservation Society, the Vineyard Open Land Foundation, the Sheriffs Meadow Foundation, the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club and the Trustees of Reservations are shaping an agreement that will allow them to share their strengths and resources.
“We need to make just as strong a stand as possible to protect this Island and all the beautiful things we cherish,”said Anne Hale this week. Mrs. Hale is chairman of the management committee shaping the agreement between the organizations.
“The need is here for us to participate in the growth of the Island so we don’t lose all the qualities that are important to us,” said Tom Counter, executive director of the Vineyard Conservation Society. “If we are going to do that, we’re going to have to work together and be together on our goals.”
The organizations will keep their separate identities and continue their individual efforts to further the cause of conservation on the Vineyard. The trust agreement will allow them to cooperate more efficiently, sharing information and expertise, promoting the cause of conservation and teaching awareness of the Vineyard’s special environment.
The declaration of trust will also provide the foundation for the Mary P. Wakeman Conservation Center planned for the Cranberry Acres property off Lambert’s Cove Road. Plans for the center include offices for the conservation society and the Vineyard Open Land Foundation, a library, conference and meeting rooms, a greenhouse and an auditorium.
“I get very excited thinking that the people of these organizations will be able to have a good cross-fertilization of ideas,” said Mrs. Hale.
She said she expects a formal agreement to be signed in the next few weeks.
“We will all be able to focus much better on our common priorities,” she said. “And I don’t see the agreement imposing any obligations on any group. It will not infringe on what they do as individual organizations.”
The trust agreement will leave the way open for other groups to join the federation of conservation organizations in the years ahead.
Mr. Counter said he expects the more formal sharing of information will mean a cost savings and more efficient use of space and manpower.
“But maybe most important, we need to know what the future looks like from all these points of view so that we can build a comprehensive plan on a regional basis,” Mr. Counter said.
Also in the weeks and months ahead, a fund drive will begin in earnest to raise money for the conservation center. Long range plans show that roughly $500,000 will be required to construct the office building, restore the cranberry bogs at the site, create a trail system and establish an endowment fund to continue mainte­nance of the center.