Sheriff's Meadow Foundation   A Martha's Vineyard Land Trust - 508-693-5207  

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MV Natural Communities

For a small island, the Vineyard has a great variety of geological landforms, natural communities and wildlife habitats. Martha's Vineyard, along with Nantucket, Cape Cod and the Elizabeth islands, was created by the Wisconsonian Laurentide ice sheet. Two glacial lobes, pressing in from the northeast and northwest, gave the island its triangular shape. These glaciers are among the main factors responsible for the Vineyard’s diversity of natural communities and wildlife habitats and for the many rare and endangered species that live here. 

The ecologically most important natural communities and wildlife habitat are found on the outwash sandplain, the broad, flat area that stretches along the Vineyard’s south shore from Chilmark to Edgartown.  These natural communities include dry oak forest, scrub oak barrens, pine barrens, oak savannah and coastal salt ponds and their shorelines. The best known of these natural communities, and the one where Sheriff's Meadow does the most active ecological restoration and management, is the sandplain grassland. Descriptions of these natural communities and conservation areas that one can visit to see them are included in the foreword to The Flora of Martha's Vineyard, which is available at island bookstores.