bACKyard Biologists

Nantucket Land Council is excited to bring science into your home and backyard with our new bACKyard Biologists program! NLC Resource Ecologist RJ Turcotte will provide instruction and demonstration for simple home-based science experiments for your family to experience together. Using Nantucket as your classroom, learn about the basic forces that shape our island like wind and waves, as well as exploring somewhat more complex topics like sea level rise and ocean acidification! 

In addition, stay tuned for future events and activities such as virtual field trips around our beautiful island to explore vernal pools and other unique ecosystems.  Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @nantucketlandcouncil, and share your adventures with us as well as we explore nature in our backyard! #bACKyardBiologists


Virtual Trips and Lessons

Exploring Vernal Pools
Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer

At-Home bACKyard Biologists Experiments

Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise

Half of all sea level rise is caused by the melting of glaciers on land. The other half is unknown to most people- you can see glaciers melting over time. Unfortunately, you cannot see water expanding as easily. The process is known as thermal expansion, and we can explore it through a simple experiment- heating water and measuring its rise!
Download (PDF)

Bottle of red liquid headted by light

Capillary Action

Have you ever wondered how trees transport water from their roots to their leaves? Well, the answer has to do with a special property of liquids called capillary action. Capillary action is the movement of a liquid along a solid surface due to charges on the liquid and the surface. Plants use capillary action to bring water from the roots up through the stems all the way to the leaves.
Download (PDF)

Pollinator Thaumatrope

Few creatures are as important for our island ecosystems as pollinators. Butterflies, bees, and even some birds serve as pollinators, helping our plants complete their life cycles and provide us with our fruits and vegetables.
This project is a chance for you to illustrate your favorite Nantucket pollinator in its natural habitat.

By using two paper plates, the pollinator is drawn on one and its preferred habitat on the other. Once assembled, the thaumatrope provides the illusion of your pollinator flying amongst your backyard garden.
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 3: Anemometer

Few natural forces shape Nantucket as much as wind does. Look around- especially at our trees. Along the perimeter of the island, trees grow crooked, stunted and gnarly. They survive where few others can- in the salt spray zone. Waves crashing on the beaches produce a fine mist which is carried by the wind. This salt spray kills many plants, but not our hardy species such as Atlantic cedar. Not only do they handle the salt spray, they withstand frequent storms, growing crooked from the wind.rainfall from year to year helps us plan everything from managing Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer to managing our food crops and flower gardens. In this week’s bACKyard Biologist, we build our own tool for measuring Nantucket’s rainfall.
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 2: Thermometer

Every living thing on Nantucket is influenced by the seasonal temperature changes on here. The plants bloom and fruit during the warmer months, birds and fish migrate by the thousands as the seasons change, and even us humans change how we dress and behave based on what the thermometer reads. The thermometer was invented over five centuries ago and is so useful we have them everywhere- our cars, yards, homes, even some businesses show the temperature on their signs! Today we’ll learn how they work, and how to build one right at home.   
Download (PDF)

DIY Weather Station Part 1: Rain Gauge

Humans have been measuring precipitation for thousands of years. Water is our most critical resource and keeping track of rainfall from year to year helps us plan everything from managing Nantucket’s Sole Source Aquifer to managing our food crops and flower gardens. In this week’s bACKyard Biologist, we build our own tool for measuring Nantucket’s rainfall.
Download (PDF)

The Bee Hotel

Spring is in full swing outside, so this week we’re looking at pollinators. Specifically, bees! Not just any bees though. Not honeybees- OUR bees. These solitary critters are docile, excellent pollinators, and love our gardens. Let’s see if we caSpring is in full swing outside, so this week we’re looking at pollinators. Specifically, bees! Not just any bees though. Not honeybees- OUR bees. These solitary critters are docile, excellent pollinators, and love our gardens. Let’s see if we can encourage a few of them to stick around!
Download (PDF)

Ocean Acidification in a Cup, Part 2

Building on what we learned in the first experiment about how our ocean and atmosphere interact, this time we see how a more acidic ocean directly impacts our iconic shell-building species.
Download (PDF)

Cup of vinegar with an egg.

DIY Birdfeeders and Nature Journals

Attract Nantucket’s beautiful birds to your yard! Each year, thousands of colorful, vocal songbirds visit our community- A pinecone, some string, peanut butter and sunflower seed will get you started on a new hobby.
Download (PDF)

DIY bird feeder using seeds.
Watch

Water Cycle in a Bag

Learn how our planet recycles water by creating a tiny enclosed earth, complete with oceans and an atmosphere, from stuff you have in your kitchen!
Download (PDF)

Frog Life Cycle

Welcome to spring on Nantucket! Frogs, one of the hallmarks of spring, are the subject of our craft this week. The frog’s life cycle begins when adult frogs head for water as the weather warms. They lay eggs, large gooey blobs, thousands of them! Tadpoles soon hatch, grow legs, and join their parents as full-fledged frogs. What kinds of frogs do you hear/see in your yard? What other signs of spring are you seeing? Let us know what you find!
Download (PDF)

Frog Life Cycle Craft using egg cartons.

Ocean Acidification in a Cup

Learn how things like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere make our oceans more acidic, even right here on Nantucket! Download (PDF)

Graphic depicting Ocean Acidification.


Thank You Notes from our bACKyard Biologists


Please remember us this year for donation consideration, MAKE DOUBLE THE IMPACT TO PROTECT OUR WATERS. Nantucket is yours to cherish. Yours to protect. Please support the Nantucket Land Council! Donation link is in our bio. ...

Turkey Plunge? Walking on the beach or Moores? It's all good after enjoying your Thanksgiving dinner! From our team to yours, best wishes!⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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The Nantucket Land Council is pleased to announce a generous challenge grant by our Board of Directors which will double every gift up to $75,000 throughout the rest of 2022. The Water Fund is a special restricted fund that helps support our water-focused initiatives. In addition to our Eelgrass restoration and research in Nantucket and Madaket Harbors, Harmful Algal Bloom, and general pond research, and educational and outreach initiatives, this fund supports the Nantucket Waterkeeper Program. The Nantucket Waterkeeper is the eyes and ears of our water resources and is always available to answer questions or help investigate and direct concerns about our waters. ⁠

Your support is critical - and every donation counts. Make DOUBLE THE IMPACT. Help us meet our goal of $150,000 to protect and preserve Nantucket’s water resources–DONATE TODAY! The link is our bio.⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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The legal costs to taxpayers will continue to rise unless the Town chooses a different path than the status quo. Join us in urging Select Board to discontinue northern Baxter Road NOW and focus exclusively on long-term coastal resilience via road relocation. For more information on our petition, the link is in our bio.⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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The Nantucket Land Council is pleased to present a different path forward for Nantucket regarding Baxter Road- an approach that works to mend strained relationships in our local government, save taxpayers millions of dollars, and further Nantucket's long-term coastal resilience goals. ⁠
By using an option unique to Massachusetts, we petition our Select Board to put forward a warrant article at the Annual Town Meeting, which discontinues the northernmost 0.52 miles of Baxter Road, from Bayberry Lane to Sankaty Lighthouse, and lays out what is called a Statutory Private Way in its place.⁠

By establishing a Statutory Private Way, Select Board will accomplish several goals for the Town, including eliminating its liability for damage to utilities and infrastructure along that stretch of road by handing it over to the homeowners, freeing up valuable staff time and taxpayer funds to redouble its efforts on road relocation, and preserving public access to historic Sankaty Lighthouse. The discontinuance will not stop Baxter Road residents from protecting their roads if they choose. Still, it would prevent the Town from becoming involved in a contentious, expensive, and ultimately destined-to-fail hard armoring project. ⁠

This petition is consistent with advice provided to Select Board in 2012 and stands today as the most logical solution for all parties involved. We look forward to working with the Town to reach this pragmatic and forward-thinking solution for our community.⁠

Read more about this, the link is in our bio and feel free to reach out with any questions.⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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RJ Turcotte Receives MACC Official Certification!⁠
The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions is a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to educating our Conservation Commission members and advocating for better wetlands protections at the state and local levels.⁠

Although it is common for other Conservation Commissions to get their Commissioners certified, Nantucket has only had one Commissioner get fully trained and certified by MACC (Commissioner Seth Engelbourg) and two Town staff members. This fall, NLC’s own RJ Turcotte became the 4th Nantucketer to become MACC certified, with formal training in the State Wetlands Protection Act, how to draft orders of conditions, update local Bylaws, and handle wetland permit violations.⁠

Congratulations, RJ!⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
...

We are thrilled to announce a new digital format for our small environmental education grants program. Going forward, rather than the format of twice-per-year calls for grant proposals, NLC will use a digital form for grant applications year-round to help better cater to the needs of our island teachers. Once the grant funding has been used up for the year, grants may still be applied for via the online form, but those applications will be considered for the following year. ⁠

We encourage you to apply for grants if you have environmental education needs or to spread the word if you know of students who could use funding assistance.⁠

Please share! Apply link in our bio.⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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Emily Molden and Nate Scott traveled to Tuckernuck last week to inspect over 25 Conservation Restrictions that help protect the beauty and important wildlife habitat of that special island. Huge thanks to NLC Board Member and Ambassador Carl Sjolund for the intrepid crossing on a windy day!⁠


Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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Last week we teamed up with Dr. Alyssa Novak and her students from Boston University to cap off a year’s worth of Eelgrass restoration. After harvesting seeds in the spring, processing them by hand and taking care of them in an artificial flow-through tank, it was finally time to plant the seeds at the restoration site. We used biodegradable bags filled with sand to hold the seeds and drop them down to the ocean floor. Divers from BU and NLC were in the water all day strategically placing the seed bags in the bare areas of the restoration site. The end goal is to improve the density of the Eelgrass for years to come and after this amazing effort we are one step closer to success!⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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Happy Fall! We had many gardeners sign up with us last spring to create a pollinator garden habitat, and to those of you who signed up, we hope you have been enjoying the process of creating a pollinator garden habitat. ⁠

Here are some tips for winterizing your pollinator gardens and putting them to bed:⁠
• Stop watering as plants are beginning to go dormant.⁠
• Leave the leaves, stalks, and flower heads. The seed pods left over will provide seeds for the birds, and the dried stems give a safe place for beneficial insects throughout the winter.⁠
• Let your pollinator garden go wild. Not raking or weeding at this time is best. Leaves form a mulch as they break down over winter, helping to stop weeds and naturally fertilize the soil.⁠

To sign up for 2023 or to learn more about our program, click on the link in our bio!⁠

Yours to Cherish. Yours to Safeguard.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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It takes a village! Today NLC staff and a team from Boston University are planting the remaining eelgrass seeds harvested this summer in our Monomoy restoration area. ⁠
Essential planting equipment = Biodegradable Tea Bags! Tea bags are filled with sand and eelgrass seeds and staked on the harbor bottom to help ensure safe germination.⁠
The team ran out of tea bags as planting progressed, but ROASTD saved the day! ⁠

Thank you, @roastdnantucket, for your essential contribution to Nantucket Harbor eelgrass restoration.⁠

#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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Earlier in September, ten intrepid paddlers joined the Nantucket Land Council and Linda Loring Nature Foundation staff to explore the North Head of Long Pond. We launched over a dozen colorful kayaks into ‘The Gut,” as the first bridge is known, and brought along some water quality sampling equipment to boot. It was a beautiful fall morning- a slight breeze, a large lunar tide, and just overcast enough to keep us from roasting under the September sun. ⁠

The tour discussed water quality and the new ‘Team Turtle” initiative. Although Long Pond was our last tour of the 2022 season, please stay tuned as more kayak tours are in the works for 2023. ⁠

Click our bio link to read more about ‘Team Turtle” and our collaborations! ⁠

#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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Boston bans artificial turf in parks due to toxic forever chemicals!!⁠
The city joins a growing number across the US in limiting the use of artificial turf made with dangerous PFAS compounds. ⁠
News published from The Guaridan, read more-the link is in our bio.⁠
Photo: Until recently, artificial turf was made with ground-up tires. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA⁠

#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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The Nantucket Land Council has partnered with the Nantucket Shellfish Association, the Maria Mitchell Association, and 14 other organizations and entities to form the Clean Water Coalition. The purpose of the Coalition is to come together with the Town around a common goal of preserving clean water for Nantucket. The Select Board has identified clean water as a priority in their Strategic Plan and the Town of Nantucket and the community have advanced a number of initiatives and programs in recent years to advance that mission, but our aquatic ecosystems continue to show clear signs of decline. The Coalition is interested in providing additional support and resources to assist the Town’s efforts and move the needle faster. After submitting a letter to the Town of Nantucket announcing the Coalition’s formation and desire to collaborate, we look forward to meetings this fall with Town department heads and staff that will determine the next steps for this movement.⁠

#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve
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The HAC released its final decision last Friday permitting Surfside Crossing’s 156 unit 40b development on 13.5 acres off of South Shore Road. Despite the Superior Court’s ruling last year requiring the HAC to consider other local needs and environmental concerns, the revised proposal was essentially rubber-stamped with no local input. The NLC hopes the Town will challenge this decision, and we will also consider our options for further appeal. ⁠

Let the Select Board know that this decision does not serve the community and should be challenged.⁠
#nantucket #PlanProtectPreserve⁠
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