Monday, March 14, 2011

MOP and Outward Bound Apply to Start Oyster Pilot on Thompson Island

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has submitted a request to begin a pilot at Thompson Island in Boston Harbor. Thompson Island is 204 acres of rolling hills, forests, meadows, salt marshes and beaches with walking trails running through out.

This application was facilitated through the work of the National Park Service who brought everyone together including the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and Outward Bound who oversees the Island. Outward Bound facilities include meeting space, educational facilities, and camp sites. I attended a lobster cookout here one summer evening and it was excellent.

If approved, the pilot would entail placinig oysters in two locations- tidal wetlands and a salt pond. Both you can see on the attached map of Thompson Island.The oysters would be used as part of an educational curriculum that would include discussions of biodiversity and the water cycle. Outward Bound staff would work with students in tracking there progress.

The island is named for David Thompson who set up a trading post in 1626 to trade with the Neponset Indians. It was then used for farming for the next 200 years.

In 1833, the Boston Asylum for Indigent Boys was moved to the island, and in 1835 it merged with the Boston Farm School Society to become the Boston Farm and Trade School. Thousands of boys passed through over the years learning trades and how to care for chickens and goats who were kept on the island. The salt pond was closed in to become an ice pond and the school established a weather station on a promontory that rises 74 feet above sea-level.  In 1956 the name was changed to Thompson Academy, which operated through 1974. To learn more about Thompson Island in the old days you can read Paul Lamoureux's Blog

Today the island is owned by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Educational Center that brings 5000 students and 3000 adults to the island.
To visit Thompson Island one can take a ferry from Spectacle Island in the Summer and details can be found here. It is well worth the trip.

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