The island’s environmental advocate is turning 50 in 2024! And has been busy taking stock.
As longtime board member and chair of the newly re-named Nantucket Land & Water Council (NLWC) Strategic Planning Committee, Lucy Leske notes: “With our 50th anniversary approaching in 2024, we decided this was a perfect time to not only look back at where we have been and celebrate all that we have accomplished, but also to take stock of where we are and where we are headed.”
The board of the NLWC then embarked on an ambitious plan to craft a refined strategic vision. Their first step in doing so was to reach out and survey community members and NLWC supporters to identify what they felt are the most urgent, current needs of the island’s environment and community. They followed this up by evaluating the NLWC’s programs and initiatives —including our ongoing research, education and advocacy to protect Nantucket’s natural resources as well as our long-standing conservation restriction (CR) program and our ever expanding clean water initiatives.
“As we processed the results of this survey and evaluation,” Leske goes on to explain: “we realized that, over the last decade or so, as the threat to, and impact on our water resources has grown due to ongoing development and rising sea levels– we have increasingly devoted our resources to assessing, protecting, preserving and restoring our waters.
Executive Director, Emily Molden believes this is a natural progression for the organization. “When we were founded back in the 1970’s our primary role was to prevent rapid overdevelopment of our open spaces by challenging large-scale claims by developers of old sheep commons land that had unclear title. As more of the island was conserved our role naturally shifted to advocating for how our land is used and managed” said Molden. “In addition to our direct water initiatives, including delineation of the island’s watersheds and assisting with the establishment of our Wellhead Protection District, this land protection work has always had the essential impact of also protecting our waters. Over the past decade the organization has shifted more and more of its attention to the island’s water bodies which are the sensitive downstream receptors to the ongoing development of the Island.
“Adding ‘Water’ to our name memorializes a priority that has always been there, but that is now more important than ever. We all need clean water. We drink it, we fish in it, we recreate in it. Where would we be without clean water?”
At this point, over 50 percent of the organization’s time and staff resources are devoted to defending clean water on Nantucket. In 2020, the NLWC joined the global Waterkeeper Alliance, and NLWC staffer RJ Turcotte became the island’s first designated ‘Nantucket’ Waterkeeper. “We realized that it was time to update our name and adjust our mission statement to more accurately reflect and encompass all the work we are doing today” Molden said.
Our updated mission statement reads: The Nantucket Land & Water Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to preserving the health of Nantucket’s environment and community through the protection of the island’s land and water resources.” And for a look at our new Strategic Vision: visit nantucketlandwater.org.
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