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Refuge History

Refuge Establishing Purpose

"...for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds." 16 U.S.C (Migratory Bird Conservation Act)

Refuge Description

Nomans Land Island NWR is a 628-acre island off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. This island has a unique history, from sheep grazing when the island was privately owned in the 1800’s, to use as a bombing range by the U.S. Navy starting during World War II. Portions of the island have been managed by the Service since 1970, while the island was still owned by the U.S. Navy. The Navy transferred ownership of the island to the Service in 1998. Because Nomans Land Island provides diverse habitats including intertidal, freshwater wetland, grassland, and shrubland habitats, it serves an important role for nesting colonial waterbirds, and as a stopover for migratory birds.

Refuge History


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began managing the eastern 1/3 of island as a refuge under joint Wildlife Management Agreement with the U.S. Navy, while still under Navy ownership.


Range operation ended and preparation began for the island to be turned over to USFWS for a National Wildlife Refuge.


Surface sweep of the island conducted by Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team.


USFWS began exclusive use of the island under Federal-Federal transfer of property.


Began CCP process for all eight refuges within the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex.

Published Federal Register Notice.

Conducted public scoping.


Between 1999-2001, public comments were summarized, significant issues were identified, and alternatives looked at to address the significant issues.

Published Federal Register Notice stating intent to split planning efforts: to write a CCP/EA for Assabet River, Great Meadows, Oxbow, Massasoit, and Mashpee refuges, and to write an EIS/CCP and Wilderness Review for Nomans Land Island, Monomoy and Nantucket Refuges.

Efforts for Nomans Land and Monomoy were halted to focus on Assabet River, Great Meadows, and Oxbow refuges.


Published Federal Register Notice for EIS/CCP and Wilderness Review for Nomans Land Island and Monomoy Refuges.

Information from previous scoping efforts were reviewed.


Public scoping meetings held April 5-7 at Chatham, Chilmark, and Sudbury.

A planning team was assembled consisting of USFWS staff, a representative from the State Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and a representative from the Wampanaog Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).


Draft Goals and Objectives were published in Fall Newsletter for Monomoy NWR.


Draft Goals and Objectives were published in Fall Newsletter for Nomans Land Island NWR.

Bill Perry, Refuge Planner, transferred to a new position in Hawaii.


Decision made to de-link Nomans Land Island and Monomoy NWRs: to write a CCP/EA for Nomans Land Island NWR, and continue the CCP/EIS process for Monomoy NWR.

Nomans Land Island NWR planning team was reconvened, and they reviewed the previous information to date, and began the process of refining the Visions, Goals and Objectives for the refuge.

Published draft Vision, Goals, and Objectives for Nomans Land Island NWR in Fall Newsletter.

Conducted public scoping meetings in October.

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2016
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