Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by

We are a 501 (c) 3
Tax Id - 04-3278142

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Newsletter Archives ...

OPET Mission Statement

OPET is dedicated to:

  • land conservation in the pond’s watershed;
  • monitoring the ecological health of the Pond while engaging and promoting related scientific studies;
  • educating the pond watershed residents and encouraging them to reduce their impact on Oyster Pond;
  • working with the Town of Falmouth and other organizations to support the long-term preservation of the pond.


What You Can Do to Help Oyster Pond


Faces logoFalmouth Friendly Lawn Care Guidelines





The Headwaters of Oyster Pond - An Exciting Update


Thanks to your generous donations, OPET acquired the Headwaters property from WHOI last October!  Over the winter, we explored this wonderful site and discovered some treasures.  There is a great diversity in landscapes from wetlands to majestic beeches to a natural amphitheater to a white pine forest.

We’ve also started compiling a long “to-do” management list.  As every property owner knows, along with ownership comes the responsibility for maintenance and upkeep.  Our mission is to provide public access while protecting fragile resources and the privacy of the abutters. The above video is an update on what is next for the Headwaters land and shows some of the highlights of the property. We are looking forward to when the trails are built and everyone can enjoy this wonderful land!


Cleaning Out Trunk River

Perhaps you noticed a drop in the level of Oyster Pond?  The water has been usually high for months covering docks and flooding backyards.  All the rain we’ve had is part of the reason, but the main probleam is that the exotic, invasive reed Phragmites is clogging the outflow from the pond and keeping pond levels high.

Removing Phragmites from Trunk River May 2013  

Click on the above slide show to see how Trunk River has changed over time and OPET's recent work.

Slowly over the years, the phragmites has crept in and filled Trunk River.  The above pictures show dramatic differences in the river as the phragmites filled it in over time.  It is amazing!
Blocking the river not only keeps the water levels high, but also slows the flushing of the pond.  This means that nitrogen levels from septic systems can build up in the water column.  Keeping the water flowing helps dilute the levels and preventing algal growth in the pond and lagoon.  The blockage can also interfere with the migration of Oyster Pond’s resident herring population.

In October 2015, OPET hired a licensed applicator to treat the phragmites with herbicide.  The herbicide kills about 70% of the plants in the first year of treatment.  Cutting down the old growth makes it much easier to spot and treat any new stalks.  On May 13, 2016, OPET and Americorps volunteers worked all day to cut down the dead stalks and remove the GIANT phragmites root balls in the river.  We had no idea how large or how many root balls there were in the river until we started pulling them up! No wonder the river has been so clogged up.

Thanks to the wonderful help of the Barnstable County Americorps, Trunk River is a wider and freer flowing river.  Water levels all around the pond are dropping.  The Ransom Road dock is now exposed after being under water for months and months.  We hope you are also seeing the results of OPET’s hard work!

Thank you to the Falmouth Community Preservation Fund that paid for the plant treatments.  Thanks also to the Woods Hole Foundation that help offset our employee costs, supplies and lunch for all of the volunteers!

Spring is Here - Create a Oyster Pond Friendly Lawn

Too much nitrogen is polluting Oyster Pond.  You can help by reducing the amount and type of fertilizer you use on your lawn.   Traditional Cape Cod lawns need little fertilizer and water.  You can have a lush green lawn without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Organic sources build up the soil and their microbes help make nutrients available to plants. Just leaving the grass clippings on the lawn and rain and snow usually provide enough nitrogen. Remember how great all our gardens looked last winter? That was because of all the snow, the "poor man's fertilizer."

Here is a great video full of lawn care tips:  



More information on creating a healthy lawn can be found on our web page Healthy Lawns = a Healthy Oyster Pond.

Also follow this link to learn about the Town of Falmouth's Fertilizer Bylaw. The bylaw prohibits the use of fertilizers within 100' of any waterbody or wetland. Fertlizer use is also prohibited during the winter and before a rain storm.


Plans for the new Headwaters land are underway!

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Now that we've purchased the Headwaters land, thanks to you, plans are underway to draft a management plan and improve the trail system. This is the fun part!

OPET is beginning to design a circular trail system to link together points of interest in the new Headwaters property with the existing trails.  We are trying to balance access to interesting features while protecting fragile resources and maintaining a buffer to neighbors’ backyards. There are already informal neighborhood trails linking Ransom Road to Fells Road and one running up to Hackmatack Way. There are also existing trails in Zinn Park, the conservation land OPET acquired in the mid 1990s (green dotted lines). 

OPET President Bill Kerfoot at one of the boundary markers on the new Headwaters land. The first step to managing the land is finding its boundaries! It is always nice when you can find these as they are usually hidden under years of leaves and dirt.
Mark Robinson of the Compact of Cape Cod with a GPS in hand scouting out new trails and identifying interesting features.
An example of the challenging type of landscape we face for the new trails.

The above map shows some possible new trails layouts.  In January, Mark Robinson of the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts helped us start mapping and considering the new routes. Mark had a handheld gps that tracked our movements as we cut our way through the Headwaters property (purple dotted lines).  This work is only possible in the winter as the vegetation is incredibly dense the rest of the year! We also identified some features to highlight in a future trail guide.

Once the snow has melted enough we will go back out again with the GPS to map the remaining proposed trails (yellow dotted lines).   We might discover new routes when we are back in the field.


It's official, OPET now owns the Headwaters of Oyster Pond!

John Dowling, OPET's President, shakes hands with Jeffrey Fernandez, WHOI's CFO to celebrate the land transfer.
Photo by Jayne Doucette, copyright Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

On October 19th, the land transfer was completed and OPET officially acquired the 22 acre Headwaters of Oyster Pond from WHOI. Thanks to a flurry of last minute donations, we closed the remaining $30,000 funding gap.  The Headwaters will now be protected in perpetuity for all the citizens of Falmouth!

This is all possible due to YOU and all of your generous donations.

So many people were involved in this purchase.  We had 230 donors with donations ranging from $5 to the $500,000. Donations came from the Massachusetts Landscape Partnership fund, the Town of Falmouth Community Preservation Fund, foundations, The 300 Committee Land Trust, the Compact of Cape Cod  Land Trusts, other non-profits and many, many private donors. It really did take a village to purchase this land!

On October 19th, the land transfer was completed and OPET officially acquired the 22 acre Headwaters of Oyster Pond from WHOI. Thanks to a flurry of last minute donations, we closed the remaining $30,000 funding gap.  The Headwaters will now be protected in perpetuity for all the citizens of Falmouth!

Now our attention turns to managing this beautiful property and improving the public access. Any gifts that were received in excess of the purchase price and expenses will become the foundation for a Headwaters long-term stewardship fund.  This winter will be spent mapping out trails and developing a management plan. Other plans include installing a three space parking area and an informational kiosk.  We will keep you up to date with these plans as they progress.

Conservation Leaders Fight to Protect Our Open Space from Development Sprawl

Listen to the discussion on the value of preserving open space on the radio program The Point with Mindy Todd on WCAI. Panelists include OPET's Executive Director, Wendi Buesseler, Jaci Barton of the Barnstable Land Trust, Katherine Garafoli of the Dennis Conservation Trust and Michael Lach of the Harwich Conservation Trust.

Falmouth Enterprise Editorial - January 9, 2015 - Thank you Bill Hough!

The 5 WHOI lots are very important to preserving the health of Oyster Pond as they are the last large developable parcels in the pond’s watershed.  These lands drain into a creek that is the source of the only surface water to Oyster Pond.  Groundwater seeps up into the wetlands and flow under Ransom Road and directly into the pond.  Any pollutants on these properties will migrate through the soils, enter the groundwater and make their way to the pond.

A $2.1M Capital Campaign is underway to purchase and preserve 22 acres of undeveloped land being divested by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Successful acquisition of this land will ensure that it remains undeveloped and will continue to be a vibrant natural and cultural resource for the entire community.

Oyster Pond and the hundreds of plant and animal species, many of which are endangered, rely on this land (Oyster Pond’s headwaters). 

Additional housing development would have a devastating effect on Oyster Pond and the surrounding habitat.  Development could result in up to 70 new housing units, if a developer used the 40B provision of the Falmouth planning bylaws. 

Preserving this land — and guarding against development — will have lasting cultural and economic benefits for our community.

To learn more about this important initiative and how it affects all of us, please read our brochure.

There are many ways to give Ways to Give.

We need everyone’s help to reach our funding goal - please donate today

All donation amounts are welcome and appreciated - thank you!

A slideshow of the land.










Wood frogs "quacking" and spring peepers singing at one of the vernal pools.

Vernal Pool Chorus from OPET on Vimeo.

Support OPET every time you shop on Amazon

Oyster Pond Environmental Trust

Now you can support OPET everytime you shop through Amazon. If you are an Amazon customer, you can support OPET every time you purchase or download eligible items.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to OPET through the Amazon Smile program.



In 1994 residents of Oyster Pond’s watershed area formed
Oyster Pond Environmental Trust, Inc. (OPET)
to improve the pond’s health.







Become a Member of OPET today


Oyster Pond Environmental Trust, Inc.
501(c) 3 non-profit organization
PO Box 496 • Woods Hole, MA 02543-0496