Boston Inspiring Connections Outdoors
Lodge Park at East Point, Nahant
Saturday, June 22, 2019
On Saturday, June 22, 2019 the Club teamed up with Zumix to host an outing with 17 folks to explore the incredible ocean-cliffed Lodge Park on the East Point of Nahant. ICO Volunteers Nicki and Ben met Brittany, Gabi, and Abe from Zumix, and met up with a number of Nahant locals / naturalists and Club members at 10am under beautiful sunny skies.
We held an opening circle introducing ourselves, covering Leave No Trace, and the presence of ticks on the point. Then, civic leader Jim Walsh shared the natural and cultural history of Nahant. (Back in the day, Tudor, the iceman, shipped ice from Nahant to all parts the world, and he made a ton of money doing it.) We began walking together learning of the land ownership structure and proposed construction on the point. The town of Nahant and Northeastern University each own part of the peninsula –Nahant actually is a tied island connected to land by a tombolo.
For many years Northeastern University (NU) has run its Marine Science Center on East Point. NU utilizes the bunkers that were built during WWII and the Cold War and a number of other newer buildings including a few of those portable classrooms to conduct research and education.
The citizens of Nahant were generous to host us and educate us on what goes on at East Point. Linda Pivacek helped the group identify 20 species of birds (see list below) and said East Point is an important migratory bird area as recognized by the Audubon Society. John Benson educated us on the myriad number of native and non-native plants and flowers that contribute to the natural radiance of the place.
We learned that NU wants to build a 55,000 square foot Coastal Sustainability Institute on East Point. While the locals support NU’s investment in Nahant and value the science the University is developing, they know that there are better options than the one that NU proposes. (Blue signs of protest to NU’s plan line the streets of Nahant making the trip to East Point very interesting – it reminds me of the yellow signs in northern New Hampshire that opposed Northern Pass.) The proposed building would be built in the middle of the point and cut many trees where birds currently seek refuge during migration. The proposed building would be seen from both the ocean to the east and towns from the west, north and south. In particular, homes on Nahant that now look out on green forest would see a building.
Locals think that utilizing the Marine Science Center’s existing footprint – which is tucked back and out of view from surrounding areas – allows the University to meet its need while reducing natural and cultural impacts from the proposed project. (The issue goes deeper as there is a 60-year old law that allows non-profits to circumnavigate local wetlands protections for projects, and Nahanters are rightly upset that their protections are being brushed aside because NU is technically a non-profit.)
Around noon we circled back after observing birds, flowers, boats, cliffs, and views of the Boston harbor and skyline. We enjoyed each other’s company and pb&j on the porch of a local Nahanter. We discussed some of what we learned at the closing circle, and we learned more about the area, its history, and its future.
Go to Nahant and you shant be disappointed. It really is a hidden treasure in New England.
-Ben & Nicki
See more information below!
eBird Report - Nahant--East Point Sanctuary, Jun 22, 2019
Nahant--East Point Sanctuary, Essex, Massachusetts, US
Jun 22, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:55 PM
Comments: walk at East Point noting birds, plants, geology, importance of habitat and location for birds and other pollinators, and plans for the future.
Common Eider 22 10 ducklings, 12 adults
Mourning Dove 2
Chimney Swift 8
Herring Gull 9 likely undercount
Double-crested Cormorant 20
Willow Flycatcher 1 heard
Eastern Kingbird 1 seen well by group
American Crow 3
Tree Swallow 2 adults at nesting box. Lodge Park.
Barn Swallow 3
Carolina Wren 1 heard only
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 4 2 seen. 2 heard only.
Northern Mockingbird 1
American Goldfinch 2
Song Sparrow 3 singing
Red-winged Blackbird 8 great views
Brown-headed Cowbird 7 adults and young.
Common Grackle 8
Yellow Warbler 4 singing
Northern Cardinal 3
House Sparrow 2
View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S57598842
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (https://ebird.org/home)
Links to NU’s construction proposal:
Welcome, Sierra Club, to Nahant’s Lodge Park
Explore, Enjoy, Protect
Lodge Park is located on East Point, a coastal promontory comprising 23 acres at the easternmost end of the island town of Nahant. A vital waystation for migrating birds, Lodge Park features breathtaking geological formations, diverse native flora and fauna, and wetlands. It is recognized as an IBA (important Bird Area) by the MA Audubon Society. It is one of the few undeveloped coastal areas on the North Shore.
East Point lands were first used as open pasture land by Native Americans and Colonists. Gradually the area became a haven for Massachusetts’ most storied families, principally the residence of Henry Cabot Lodge and his family. They flourished there in gracious seaside estates and attracted artists and writers, among the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In the ensuing years, East Point was transformed and utilized for military purposes. The area was used first the Spanish American War and continued in use during World I, World War II, and the Cold War. The first underwater surveillance systems were developed there.
In the early 1960’s, East Point’s facilities were decommissioned. Lodge Park, dominating the coastal headlands, became open space for the Town of Nahant, while lower lands surrounding the abandoned military were deeded to Northeastern University to support a marine science facility.
This Sierra Club outing is hosted by Keep Nahant Wild, a resident’s organization working to prevent further development of East Point -thereby preserving the natural beauty and environmental wonders of this rugged, rocky outcropping and critical maritime shrublands overlooking the coastal waters of Massachusetts Bay. Resident naturalists will take Sierra Club members on a guided hike to view the area’s birds and wildlife. For more information please visit www.keepnahantwild.org.