Threats to Salt Island
The present owners, who acquired the island in 2017, have suggested a variety of potential development schemes, which would negatively impact all of the significant values that the island holds.
Clearing of “Underbrush”
Work began on the morning of April 27th 2021 illegally and without a permit. This amounts to destruction of the native vegetation and will invite further destruction by opening up the landscape to increased foot traffic. Such fragmentation of the habitat will also degrade its usefulness to resident birds and other wildlife.
Introduction of Goats
(To Eradicate Poison Ivy)
The proposal to install goats on Salt Island has been removed from consideration.
There are at least 4 problems with this concept:
Goats are omnivorous herbivores, which will indiscriminately feed on all species and parts of plants, including roots and bark.
Even if the goats confined themselves to eating poison ivy, this would be detrimental to the ecological and recreation values described above.
Trampling by the goats pose a threat of erosion, which in addition to land-based damage, also is likely to be a detriment to the surrounding intertidal and marine ecosystems
Excrement from the goats (or any other introduced domestic animals) pose a threat of pollution, not only to the characteristic acid soils of the island but also to marine life in surrounding waters and the inhabitants of the islands fresh water pools.
Fence posts installed on Salt Island were removed on
May 18, 2023
Fencing to contain goats on the island (already partially installed illegally) damages the bedrock and creates its own erosion issues.
Deep vertical bolt holes will accumulate water which, in winter, expands causing the rock to split. This process accelerates erosion of the coast bank. The damage already done is irreversible.
While the current owners have stated that they have no “immediate” plans for built structures on the island aside from the fences, they have made public (Gloucester Daily Times, June 2, 2021) architectural sketches of a residential complex, including a large dwelling, a swimming pool and a “decorative” lighthouse. This would of course fly in the face of all the values outlined and ensure that traditional public access would be prohibited.