OCT or the Conservation Commission?

Many people confuse OCT, which is a private, nonprofit land trust, with the Orleans Conservation Commission—the wetlands regulatory arm of the Town of Orleans. We often get calls from people who think the two separate entities are one and the same. We’re not!

OCT is not part of the town’s governance It is a nonprofit organization, supported by membership dues and contributions and governed by a volunteer board of trustees elected by members of the Trust. Our sole purpose is to acquire, manage, and restore natural lands as protected open space. We hold this land in trust to preserve Orleans’s unique heritage.

The Town of Orleans Conservation Commission is composed of concerned citizens and is charged with advising town staff on natural resource regulatory matters. The Conservation Commission also oversees the management of town-owned conservation land and issues permits under the Wetlands Protection Act.

Working with the Town

OCT and the Town of Orleans do collaborate to preserve important parcels of land, with a shared objective of protecting conservation land and the town’s natural resources.

  • OCT staff and trustees frequently confer with the Orleans Conservation Agent about properties that are candidates for conservation.
  • The town’s Community Preservation Committee directs funding from the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act to open space preservation projects (along with funding for historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation projects). In 2018, the CPC provided financial support enabling OCT to install attractive kiosks on six of its properties, with trail maps and educational information for the public.
  • OCT has worked with the Town of Orleans to publish a popular guide to trails—those on OCT lands as well as on conservation lands owned by the Town. You can pick up a copy of the Guide to Orleans Trails at our office or at town buildings such as the Snow Library or Town Hall. A map identifying Town-owned conservation lands is found here.
  • From 2016–18, OCT served as a liaison with the Orleans Water Quality Advisory Panel, which worked to reach consensus among stakeholders on the town’s approach to wastewater management. OCT volunteers have taken active roles in other town-based water quality efforts, such as ameliorating pollution in our freshwater ponds, and the Trust’s newsletter has reported on these efforts.
  • OCT and the town’s Tree Warden have productively shared information over the years.
  • And the Trust has sponsored or supported conservation-related projects in the Orleans schools, such as a pollinator garden at the elementary school and improving the trail around Boland Pond behind the middle school (with AmeriCorps Cape Cod volunteers).

We look forward to future opportunities to work with town government to further our mutual aims of preserving Orleans’s natural heritage and educating residents.