Published on October 25, 2019

Update on Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary Expansion

Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in early fall © Jesse Ferreira
Great Neck © Jesse Ferreira

Mass Audubon's South Coast Sanctuaries team is very excited by the privilege of adding the grounds of the Sacred Heart Retreat Center to our Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. It is an incredibly important parcel and a huge conservation success story.

As the team on the ground, we look forward to working on the new 115-acre parcel where important habitats such as coastal forest, salt marsh, and rocky shore offer home and nourishment to many species of wildlife. Our hope is to re-wild the property, incorporate new techniques to prepare for climate change and reduce our carbon footprint, and serve as a living laboratory where we share what we learn in the process. Early ideas for re-wilding include creating pollinator patches of native plants where bees, butterflies and other pollinators will feed and find shelter.

With that said, the expanded portion of the sanctuary (former Sacred Heart Retreat Center) will remain closed to the public while important site work is safely performed. 

While most of the buildings will be removed, we plan to retain a small facility for programs as well as outbuildings for equipment and utilities. Together with local, collaborative partners, we look forward to offering nature programs across many topics for a range of audiences.

Gradually, we plan to install an expanded trail system, a new parking lot, an all-persons trail to the shore, and possibly even a summer camp. This winter will launch the design and construction phases. The site will remain closed to the public during site preparations and we are hopeful to open to the public in the spring of 2020.

This is just the beginning—it will take time and resources to reach the potential that this new addition holds for delivering Mass Audubon's mission on the South Coast. For now, it is an honor to hold this land in trust and uncover what it offers for the future. We hope you will be part of it!