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The Orleans Conservation Trust protects and restores natural lands — for people and wildlife, the health of our waters, and the character of our community.

OCT News

Updates from Eli Rogers Road

We were thrilled to learn recently that OCT’s Woodland and Watershed Protection Project at 37 Eli Rogers Road will receive a $175,000 Conservation Partnership Grant from the Commonwealth, the largest grant amount awarded by the program. The state’s press release notes the property’s importance in protecting Orleans’ water supply and providing habitat for rare species (there are one or two vernal pools very nearby). 

We have also been busy re-wilding the land; we’ve removed two aging cottages and their outbuildings and septic system, and we had our contractor pull invasive autumn olive shrubs while we had the heavy equipment on site. Native seed mix will be sowed before spring, and we’ll carefully manage invasive vegetation as the area reverts back to nature. 

Read more about the project and our ongoing fundraising efforts here.

Before and After: the green circle indicates the 4-bedroom home, slated for resale, and the red circles indicate the now-removed cottages.

The aging cottages before demolition.

Ready for re-wilding!

January Events

First Day Hike: Portanimicut Greenbelt

Monday, January 1, 3pm-4pm

Portanimicut Greenbelt Gateway

66 Portanimicut Road Road, Orleans

Join OCT for a short walk to celebrate the new year. Part of First Day Hikes Cape Cod, we’ll start at the new trailhead at the recently preserved Greenbelt Gateway, and we’ll meander about half a mile through old field, wooded forests, and along the edge of a white cedar swamp on the Town-owned Christian Conservation Area. Only a few spots left!

Be sure to check the schedule free of events happening all across Cape Cod.

Championed by Barnstable Land Trust and supported by local conservation organizations, the third annual First Day Hikes Cape Cod is an initiative designed to encourage people to get outdoors with free guided walks and activities to explore Cape Cod’s parks, trails, and natural resources. Learn more about First Day Hikes Cape Cod here.

Register Here for OCT's First Day Hike

"Humanity for Habitat: Saving Nature at Home"

Tuesday, January 9, 6:30pm

"Humanity for Habitat: Saving Nature at Home" Lecture

By Dr. Susannah Lerman

Via Zoom (link will be sent to registrants)

The primary threat to biodiversity is habitat loss and degradation. Private residential properties ("yards") encompass large proportions of urban, suburban, and rural spaces, and are among the most rapidly expanding systems on earth. Yards also represent a conservation opportunity to provide wildlife habitat, support biodiversity, restore ecosystem function and ecosystem services, and increase local opportunities for people to connect with nature.

A "humanity for habitat" stewardship practice aims to inspire and encourage more vigorous participation in conservation actions where people live. Dr. Susannah Lerman will describe opportunities, challenges, and strategies for yard stewardship to facilitate biodiversity-friendly residential landscapes that benefit wildlife and people. 

Dr. Susannah Lerman is a Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. Her research assesses how wildlife respond to different management practices, with a focus on birds and bees, and how people interact with nearby nature. Her research emphasis is on private lands, which provide opportunities for the public to participate in science, conservation, and shared stewardship.

Register Here for "Humanity for Habitat" Zoom Lecture

Volunteer Workday: Eli Rogers Road

Thursday, January 11, 9:30am-11:30am

37 Eli Rogers Road, Orleans

Join us on Thursday, January 11th for an opportunity to learn more about OCT's Woodland and Watershed Protection Project (see OCT News, above) and our restoration efforts at the site on Eli Rogers Road. This volunteer workday project will consist of seeding, invasive species removal, and, as time allows, forestry thinning.

Please bring water, hand saws or metal leaf rakes, and dress appropriately for the weather. Limited hand saws and leaf rakes are available to those who do not have them.

Parking is available at 37 Eli Rogers Road.

Please contact Tom for sign-ups and any questions.


Friends of Pleasant Bay Walk with Noogaahsjun

Sunday, January 14, Noon-1:30pm

Kent's Point

39 Keziah's Lane, Orleans

As part of its Native Cultural Initiative, Friends of Pleasant Bay (FOPB) is collaborating with OCT and Harwich Conservation Trust to offer several free walks this winter and spring illuminating the Indigenous history and culture in the Pleasant Bay area. Led by Noogaahsjun, a descendent of the Nauset tribe and member of the Wolf Clan of the Wampanoag Nation, we are excited to offer the first of these walks in January 2024. Stay tuned for additional walks in this series.

Located in the heart of Potonumaquut, Kent’s Point was once a stronghold for local Indigenous families who wished to remain within their territory. On this walk, we will immerse ourselves in the history of this area and its people, from pre-contact through its evolution as the largest Indian Reserve on Cape Cod—and finally to its demise, exploring how a society was almost lost.

We ask that participants come open-minded and prepared to confront a challenging recounting of our history.

Limited participation; advanced registration required.

Register Here for FOPB's Walk with Noogaahsjun

Volunteer Workday: Twinings Pond

Wednesday, January 24, 9:30am-11:30am

135 Quanset Road, Orleans

As the rain continues to pour, the trail system at Twinings needs some relief! Join us on Wednesday, January 24th as we add steps to improve safety on a steep section of trail and clean water bars to improve water drainage.

Please bring water, your favorite trail tool, and dress appropriately for the weather. OCT will provide trail tools to those that do not have any.

Parking is available at the trailhead at 135 Quanset Road.

Please contact Tom for sign-ups and any questions.


Woods Cove Walk

Thursday, January 25, 1:30pm

Woods Cove Walk

366 Tonset Road, Orleans

Walk about 1/2 mile through pine-oak woodlands and enjoy views of Nauset Marsh, learning to identify trees and shrubs by their winter appearance at this lesser-known OCT property.

Meet at 366 Tonset Road, Orleans, MA. Additional parking is available at the Town Landing and the end of Tonset Road.

Limited participation; advanced registration required.

Register Here for Woods Cove Walk

Mark Your Calendar

Upcoming Walks:

  • Kent's Point with Noogaahsjun (1/14)
  • Woods Cove (1/25)
  • Kent's Point (2/20)
  • Twinings Pond (3/13)
  • Orleans Watershed (4/12)
  • John Kenrick Woods (5/16)

Upcoming Talks:

  • "Humanity for Habitat" with Dr. Susannah Lerman (1/9)
  • "Postcards from Plants" with C.L. Fornari (2/27)
  • "Picking Your Battles with Invasive Plants" with Karro Frost (3/26)
  • "Undeveloping Land" with Mark Robinson (4/30)

At Home with Nature

What are "native" plants? Native plants are species that naturally occur in a specific region and have evolved to thrive in local environmental conditions. They play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance. Adapted to local climates and soils, native plants provide habitat, food, and support for native wildlife. Their deep-rooted systems contribute to soil stability and water conservation. Preserving and promoting native plant species is essential for sustaining healthy ecosystems, as they enhance resilience to environmental changes and human impact. Click here for a list of native plants, and check back monthly for more At Home with Nature tips!

Orleans Conservation Trust

203 South Orleans Rd.

Orleans, MA 02653

(508) 255-0183

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Orleans Conservation Trust is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1970. Over its 50-year history, the Trust has preserved more than 660 acres in Orleans. Among the most active land trusts on Cape Cod, OCT stewards a range of ecosystems, from freshwater ponds and wetlands to saltmarshes, wooded upland, and coastal grasslands, managing its lands to protect and enhance wildlife habitat, restore native ecosystems, and provide public recreation and education through a network of trails and informational signage. OCT also educates residents and visitors about important natural values and environmental issues in Orleans and around Cape Cod via guided walks, free lectures, its website, newsletter, and other communications.