LLNF Master Planning Perspectives

Sponsor: Linda Loring Nature Foundation
Sponsor Liaison: Sarah Bois, Seth Engelbourg, Kitty Pochman
Student Team: Delaney Cox, Iris Morin, Jane Richardson, Desmond Woodson
Abstract: The Linda Loring Nature Foundation is undergoing the development of a master plan. The goal of this project was to evaluate the draft master plan and prioritize actions based on stakeholder and community opinion. We implemented a survey to solicit general and targeted responses from various user groups and conducted interviews with stakeholders to solicit supplemental opinions and insights. We make several recommendations regarding actions the LLNF should pursue, prioritized according to the survey and interview responses. We suggest additional improvements regarding accessibility, community engagement and outreach, property maintenance, and interpretive materials as well as refinements for new educational and research programs.

Final Report: LLNF_FinalReport_1208

Final Presentation: LLNF Final Presentation

Executive Summary


Fearing open spaces would be threatened by the burgeoning tourist economy and associated housing development, a group of concerned citizens in Nantucket began forming conservation groups in the 1960s. Since then, more than ten land conservation groups have organized to protect the island’s natural resources. The Linda Loring Nature Foundation (LLNF) owns and manages a wildlife sanctuary comprising 275 acres on the western end of the island between Eel Point Road in the north and Madaket Road to the south. Today, the property encompasses a wide range of habitats including sandplain grassland, heathland, shrub swamp, woodlands, and vernal pools. The LLNF mission focuses on land stewardship, education, and research. With the recent addition of 167.41 acres of adjacent land following Linda Loring’s passing in 2019, the Foundation is in the process of reassessing its mission and developing a new master plan for their property. 


Mission and Objectives

The overall goal of this project was to assess the Linda Loring Nature Foundation Draft Master Plan from the perspective of stakeholders and community groups to prioritize actions that ensure future support and interest. In order to achieve this goal, we identified the following objectives: 

  1. Assess how LLNF currently implements its strategic goals of stewardship, education, and research through its various programs and activities.
  2. Solicit stakeholder opinions in relation to the purpose, content, and future implementation of the LLNF draft master plan.
  3. Identify how different organizations operate in their role of environmental conservation and preservation on Nantucket.
  4. Review the content, structure, and purpose of the LLNF’s master plan to make recommendations. 



Our primary methods involved surveys of different LLNF user groups, interviews with key stakeholders, and research of data and planning documents. We initially explored the LLNF property in person and informally interviewed staff to learn in more detail how they implement their strategic goals of stewardship, education, and research. Our team then designed and implemented a survey through an iterative consultation process for the LLNF stakeholders to determine which aspects of the LLNF’s draft master plan should be prioritized and executed. While survey responses were being collected, we reviewed how other environmental and conservation organizations on Nantucket implement their strategic goals and plans in relation to land use and property management. Based on our overall findings, we created a structured set of recommendations for the LLNF’s future master plan and based these recommendations on current LLNF goals and objectives, stakeholder viewpoints, and other organizations’ environmental conservation and preservation goals. 


Findings and Recommendations

Feedback from the survey and interviews showed there was substantial public interest in participating in programs offered by the LLNF although respondents suggested additional outreach from the foundation would create more awareness of current events and offerings. Respondents also wanted to see different types of trails at the property specifically, with highlighted trail features and access to points of quiet solitude, scenic vistas, and wetland vistas. Respondents indicated that updated informational interpretive materials placed at the entrances of the LLNF and around the property would be of use and interest to visitors. Viewing platforms, a dock on Long Pond, benches and picnic tables, and a new educational and research facility were likewise selected as possible additions of interest in the survey. In both the survey responses and interviews, the idea of a new multi-use facility was mentioned, where newer programs can be held to engage younger audiences as well as high school students in research opportunities on either side of the LLNF property. As one senior LLNF Board Member stated, one measure of the success of the master plan would be for the foundation to be recognized nationally as a research center, a goal which would be further promoted with the construction of a new facility. 

Several respondents indicated that the inability to park and turn a bus in the current parking lot was a barrier to bringing students out to the LLNF property on field trips. Additionally, the parking lot lacks a designated handicap parking spot and the appropriate surface type and accommodations for those with ambulatory disabilities. Similarly, there are no accessible trails or viewing areas on the property. 

Based on our findings from the survey and interviews, the actions items of the highest priority for consideration in the master plan, include:

  • New research and education facilities;
  • A bridge to connect the newly acquired parcel to the original parcels;   
  • New trails including points of quiet solitude, access to scenic vistas, and points of interest;
  • New viewing platforms; and,
  • The installation of more benches and picnic tables.

We additionally recommend:

  • The LLNF update interpretive materials around the property to include more permanent, physical signage posted in the ground, easily noticeable and appropriately informational trail markers, and entrance signs to direct visitors. 
  • The LLNF consider hiring a land manager to take primary responsibility of maintaining the property.
  • The LLNF redevelop their parking lot to include an expanded entrance and handicap parking spot, design a handicap accessible trail, install a post and rope guide systems, and create virtual trail tours.
  • The LLNF establish educational and research opportunities targeted towards high school students as well as younger children.
  • The LLNF advertise scheduled events and offerings weekly through social media, the LLNF website and newsletter, and local newspapers.