Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

Contaminated ponds. Tangled traffic, bigger crowds, louder jet noise. And despite all that, a thunderous building boom that promises yet more to come, struggling to satisfy the market for vacation rentals while doing little if anything to provide year-round housing.

The Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) is besieged with the question: “What can be done to prevent killing the goose that lays the golden egg?”

One important answer is if you own land that isn’t conserved, take action to protect it. Ask how Massachusetts provides for the creation of perpetual protections under General Laws Ch. 184, Section 31-33, the conservation restriction act.

Fifty-seven years ago, VCS co-founder Richard Pough framed it this way: The Vineyard Conservation Society bases much of its hope — that the Vineyard can be kept beautiful and a pleasant place in which to live — on the present owners of Vineyard land being willing to voluntarily “zone” their land through the granting of conservation restrictions. Such “zoning” is completely flexible; no two owners have to do the same thing. Each is free to determine what activities would destroy the natural beauty of the property, then deny to all future owners of their land the right to do those things. Only as a result of such combined action of landowners will the natural beauty of Martha’s Vineyard be preserved.

Today, that message is more urgent than ever. If we want a more sustainable future, landowners must step up, and every resident and visitor must come to grips with what Vineyard Gazette editor Henry Hough called-out at a VCS annual meeting 41 years ago this month: Islands, by definition, have limits. He said: “There must be a stopping point — proceeding from planning or some form of legal restraint or from the activities of this society, or the tidal wave will have its way, and only conserved and protected areas will survive. I do not know whether it lies within the province of science or only common sense that there can be only so much and no more, push and shove and squirm as we will.”

Brendan O’Neill

West Tisbury

The writer is executive director of Vineyard Conservation Society.