The Alliance actively supports the designation of Nantucket Sound as a protected area, safeguarding traditional uses like fishing and recreation but prohibiting industrial development.
A National Treasure
Nantucket Sound is an environmentally sensitive body of water recognized as an irreplaceable national treasure. It should be off limits to industrial development, particularly in light of better alternative sites. Nantucket Sound is a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP), which is recognized as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A key federal historic agency recommended that the Department of the Interior deny or relocate Cape Wind because the impacts to the Sound “would be pervasive, destructive, and in the instance of seabed construction, permanent.”
Traditional Cultural Property
On January 4, 2010, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places issued a determination that Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing as a traditional cultural property (TCP) and eligible for listing in the National Registry.
Summary of Keeper’s Determination of Eligibility
Nantucket Sound is eligible for listing in the National Register as a traditional cultural property and as an historic and archeological property associated with and that has yielded and has the potential to yield important information about the Native American exploration and settlement of Cape Cod and the Islands. Although the exact boundary is not precisely defined, this determination answers the question for the area that prompted the request for this determination, the Sound itself. The Sound is eligible as an integral, contributing feature of a larger district, whose boundaries have not been precisely defined, under:
- Criterion A for its associations with the ancient and historic period Native American exploration and settlement of Cape Cod and the Islands, and with the central events of the Wampanoags’ stories of Maushop and Squant/Squannit;
- Criterion B for its association with Maushop and Squint/Squannit;
- Criterion C as a significant and distinguishable entity integral to Wampanoags’ folklife traditions, practices, cosmology, religions, material culture, foodways, mentoring, and narratives; and
- Criterion D for the important cultural, historical, and scientific information it has yielded and/or may be likely to yield through archeology, history, and ethnography about access to resources, patterns of settlement, mobility, and land use prior to and after 6,000 years ago as a result of the inundation of the Sound. It is also important for the significant information it provides and can provide about the cultural practices and traditions of the Native Americans of Cape Cod and the Islands in relationship with other peoples since ancient times.
“Nantucket Sound contains significant ecological, commercial and recreational resources that have been at the heart of several past nominations for enhanced environmental protection and conservation policies within the region. The biological diversity and unique habitat areas of Nantucket Sound led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to nominate the area for National Marine Sanctuary status in 1980. The resources of Nantucket Sound were again deemed worthy of consideration for National Marine Sanctuary status by the resource evaluation committee appointed by the National Marine Sanctuary Program in 1983. These resources are equally significant today. Nantucket Sound is a recognized habitat for many state and federally protected species, including roseate terns, piping plovers, leatherback sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, and grey seals.” — Center for Coastal Studies, Provincetown, MA
History of Efforts to Protect the Sound
- In 1971, Nantucket Sound state waters (out to 3 miles) were designated as a sanctuary under Massachusetts law. However, federal waters, the “hole in the doughnut”, remained unprotected and vulnerable to development.
- In 1980, Massachusetts nominated Nantucket Sound for designation as a National Marine Sanctuary (NMS).
- In 1983, Nantucket Sound was placed on the Site Evaluation List for NMS status.
- In 2010, as part of the review of Cape Wind under the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Park Service deemed Nantucket Sound eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
- After a twenty-year hiatus, in 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reestablished the NMS nomination and designation process, creating a significant new opportunity for protecting Nantucket Sound.