Location and Contact Information
Nomans Land Island is located in Dukes County, Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. This island has a unique history. Historically, the Cape and Islands were home to the Wampanoag Tribe. The island also had sheep grazing when the island was privately owned in the 1800’s, to then being used 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. therefore, establishing the refuge. Due to the potential safety risks associated with unexploded ordnance and the value of this island as a relatively natural island habitat, the refuge is closed to all public uses.
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. Species that inhabit the 628-acre island include, seabirds such as double crested cormorants and common terns, waterfowl, marsh bird, shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, reptiles such as the spotted turtle, mammals, including the New England cottontail and insects, such as the monarch butterfly.
What We Do
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which ais established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.
The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Nomans Land Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. The refuge provides undisturbed habitat for a wide array of avian species such as seabirds like common terns and double-crested cormorants, raptors including peregrine falcons and bald eagles and over 25 species of songbirds have been surveyed by refuge staff. Various waterfowl species, shorebirds, and marsh birds are abundant as well, including, American black ducks, mallards, green-winged teals, American oystercatchers and black-crowned night herons. Nomans Land Island is an important stop over during migration for many species, including birds, however, especially for the monarch butterfly. In the spring of 2019, with several conservation partners, New England cottontails were released on the refuge to establish a new population. There are no mammalian predators on the island, however, there have been sightings of river otter, muskrat, gray seals, and harbor seals.
Projects and Research
Most research, projects, and initiatives on the refuges comprising the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex examine management of avian resources, various public uses, rare, threatened, or endangered species and habitats, andcontrol. In 2019, New England cottontails were released on the refuge to establish a new population.