Located on the "elbow" of Cape Cod, the refuge
stretches approximately ten miles southward into the waters of
Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Ninety-four percent of
Monomoy's acreage was designated a Wilderness Area in 1970, and
is managed under the guidelines of the Wilderness Act of 1964.
It is the only Wilderness Area in southern New England.
Monomoy Nationail Wildlife Refuge is a stretch of land
has been through quite a few changes since it was declared a
refuge in 1944. First, a 1958 storm turned what had been Monomoy
Point into Monomoy Island, and then a 1978 blizzard sliced that
island in two. Monomoy, along with Provincetown, is the only
area of the Cape that's actually growing, so perhaps in the future
this currently 2,750-acre property, overseen by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, will shelter even more animal life. Right
now it harbors every species of bird native to New England, some
285 in all, including piping plovers, heron, and egrets; a prime
resting spot along the Atlantic Flyway, it's frequented by birds
from as far away as the Arctic and Brazil. Deer wander among
the 175 species of plants, ranging from red cedar to orchids
and sundews. Thousands of harbor and gray seals winter here;
in fact, gray pups born here in 1990 heralded the establishment
of the first gray seal colony in Massachusetts. The one species
you won't see much of is Homo Sapiens.
About 40 acres on Morris Island are accessible by car,
then foot (there's a 3/4-Mile trail, closed during high tide),
but the islands are uninhabited. You can visit them as part of
a naturalist-guided tour conducted by either the Cape Cod Museum
of Natural History (896-3867) or the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
(349.2615). * Daily dawn-dusk. Morris Island Rd (off Main St).
When a tavern for sailors operated at Wreck Cove, near
the present location of Hospital Pond. During the mid-1800s,
a fishing community known as Whitewash Village thrived at the
present site of the Powder Hole. The village dwindled and was
finally abandoned as sediments shoaled in the deep harbor, eventually
converting it to a shallow, brackish pond. A Coast Guard installation
at Powder Hole was manned from 1905 to 1945. Owners of the many
"camps" used for fishing, hunting, and summer recreation
were granted special use permits when the refuge was created.
Only a single camp remains in use today.
The Monomoy Lighthouse complex is the only other remaining
evidence of Monomoy's cultural heritage. The Light served as
a coastal landmark for sailors navigating the treacherous Pollock
Rip off Monomoy Point from 1828 to 1923. Situated at the south
end of South Monomoy Island, the complex includes a wooden lightkeeper's
house, a cast iron light tower lined with brick, and an adjacent
brick generator house. It sits near the original dune line, now
one-half mile inland, and is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places.
North and South Monomoy are classic barrier islands, with
surfbattered dunes on the eastern shores that gradually flatten
out to salt marsh and mud flats on the western shores. Monomoy
was initially formed by longshore, southbound ocean currents
that continuously transport sand from the Cape's eroding eastern
National Wildlife Refuge consists of North and South Monomoy
Islands and a portion of Morris Island. Its 2,750 acres are predominantly
barrier beach island of sand dunes, freshwater ponds, and salt
and freshwater marshes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects
and manages Monomoy as habitat for wildlife, with a special emphasis
on migratory birds. Many of these migratory species nest here,
and a variety of species native to the area also inhabit the
refuge. The diversity of plant and animal life visible from refuge
trails provides visitors with excellent opportunities for wildlife
observation and nature study.
To reach the headquarters on Morris Island, take Route
6 east to Route 137 south to Route 28 east through Chatham to
Chatham Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station. Take the first left
after the lighthouse, then the first right. Follow Morris Island
Road to signs for the refuge on the left.
Despite its relative remoteness, Monomoy has a long history
of human habitation. Historic occupation began as early as 1711,
shoreline north of the refuge. On meeting the Nantucket Sound
currents, sand settles to form shoals and, eventually, islands.
The Monomoy Islands were created when severe winter storms separated
Monomoy Point from the mainland in 1958 and cut through the relatively
new barrier island again, twenty years later.
The famed birder Ludlow Griscom often explored Monomoy
when it was a peninsula. Much of the information on the islands'
bird life during the early 1900s is due to his numerous visits.
Wildlife species common to much of New England are found at the
refuge. A great diversity of birds has been recorded here, and
an annotated list of 285 species is available upon request. The
refuge provides nesting habitat for migratory waterfowl and colonial
seabirds. Two important nesting species are the endangered piping
plover and roseate tern. The refuge is famous for shorebird migrations.
During the fall and winter, thousand of eiders, scoter, red-breasted
mergansers, and brant congregate in offshore areas. Hundreds
of harbor and gray seals may also be seen in the winter.
Hike the nature trails. Observe, photograph, and study
wildlife and plants. Beach combing, shellfishing, and surf fishing
are popular activities on refuge beaches. There are no picnic
or camp sites on the refuge. The refuge has long been a favorite
haunt of bird watchers. Noted ornithologists consider Monomoy
to be one of the mostexciting birding locations on the East coast.
North and South Monomoy Islands are accessible by boat
only.Commercial boat tours are available in season. Land access
is to Morris Island only.
PUBLIC USE REGULATIONS
All persons using the refuge are asked to comply with local,
State, and Federal laws, regulations, and ordinances, as well
as with the following conditions.
1. Public use of designated trails within the refuge for
wildlife observation, study, and photo-
graphy is permitted from sunrise to sunset. Surf fishing
on Morris Island is permitted 24 hours.
2. On Morris Island, pets must be on a short hand-held
leash during the entire visit. No pets are permitted on the Monomoy
3. Motorized vehicles are restricted to the entrance roads
and parking areas.
4. Hunting, shooting, fires, and camping are not permitted.
Use of small barbecue grills is permitted on open beach areas
5. Entry into closed areas is prohibited. Portions of the
refuge are seasonally closed to protect sensitive wildlife from
human disturbance. These areas are marked by signs.
6. The disturbance, destruction, or removal of wildlife,
vegetation, and facilities are prohibited.