This Uninhabited Island Off of Massachusetts Is Littered With Bombs | Journey

Nomans Land, Massachusetts, is uncommon for the closely populated New England coast. The island may have ended up like a miniature model of Martha’s Winery—the upscale trip vacation spot that sits simply 5 kilometers to the north. As an alternative it’s brimming with noticed turtles and myriad migratory birds—a de facto wildlife sanctuary with little human presence. And there’s a great cause for that: from 1943 to 1996, the island served as a bombing vary for the US Navy. Despite earlier cleanup efforts, Nomans Land stays affected by unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) that has rendered it closed to the general public.

However regardless of half a century of destruction, life has flourished on the island. And now, space residents are embroiled in a query that’s without delay philosophical and sensible: what to do with Nomans Land.

Gus Ben David, a naturalist, biologist, and third-generation Martha’s Winery resident first visited Nomans Land in 1973, when he was despatched by the native newspaper to report on the state of the island. He has spent extra time there than another civilian, and at this time is championing the view that the island must be left alone. Nomans Land has turn into a paradise for wildlife unbothered by humankind, Ben David says. If the remaining ordnance doesn’t hurt the wildlife, then it poses no drawback, he says, and any additional makes an attempt to take away the unexploded weapons may jeopardize the habitat.

“Wildlife is a product of habitat,” Ben David says. “You shield the habitat, and you’ve got your wildlife.”

However there are those that need to see a renewed effort to scrub up the island. Some hope to ultimately be capable of set foot on the picturesque spot. Others are fearful that unexploded bombs may discover their technique to sea and wash up on close by Martha’s Winery.

A 509th Bombardment Wing FB-111A plane drops Mark 82 excessive drag apply bombs alongside a shoreline throughout a coaching train over Nomans Land.


Brian McCarty, an ecologist, US Air Pressure veteran, and fishing information, thinks the island must be cleaned up. He’d wish to see the island opened to restricted guests—for analysis and for group members to reconnect with it. “You don’t handle something by leaving it alone totally and never having a connection to it,” he says.

However his motivation additionally stems from a extra pragmatic concern. Whereas the potential for the UXOs to blow up is legitimate, he’s extra involved that corroding munitions may pollute the soil and groundwater. McCarty explains that the one contemporary water on Martha’s Winery, the place he lives, comes from the identical aquifer that underlies Nomans Land. Something that corrodes within the soil on Nomans Land, he says, will find yourself contaminating the water on Martha’s Winery.

Past ecological or public well being considerations, there are critical cultural considerations that should be taken into consideration when discussing what to do with the island.

Whereas the origin of the title Nomans Land is disputed, one clarification is {that a} Wampanoag chief named Tequenoman as soon as had area over the island—that’s, Tequenoman’s land. What isn’t disputed, nevertheless, is that his folks, the Wampanoag Tribe of Homosexual Head, lived there lengthy earlier than it was a bombing vary.

As reported within the Winery Gazette, Bret Stearns, talking on behalf of the tribe at a public listening to, mentioned the Wampanoags need “larger and safer entry to the island, each for cultural use, and for basic entry by tribal members.”

The opinions of these engaged within the public debate about what to do with Nomans Land are various and passionately held, says Alex Bushe, a documentary filmmaker engaged on a undertaking in regards to the island. “I believe that there are good arguments from all sides. It’s a very, actually powerful name.”

There may be attract to the thought of leaving the island to nature—releasing it of human footprints and affect. There’s a logical impulse to scrub up humanity’s mess, to handle the island and join with it. There’s a responsibility to return the land to those that lived there lengthy earlier than any bombs have been dropped. What stays unclear is that if, how, or when, all events can arrive at a consensus.

This text is from Hakai Journal, a web-based publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Learn extra tales like this at

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