A Cape Cod island is open to the public for the first time in three centuries. Sipson Island, located in Pleasant Bay off the coast of Orleans, Mass., opened to visitors last month, marking the first time the public has been welcomed to the island since 1711, the Cape Cod Times reports. That was the year the 24-acre island was purchased by white settlers from the native Monomoyick people, CNN reports. It had remained privately owned since then, until most of it was recently purchased by a trust for conservation, public access, and educational purposes. Eight acres still remain to be purchased by the trust once it raises enough money.
"It is really important for us as an organization and community to be able to communicate the importance of this indigenous history, and teach the values of those that lived on the island before 1711," the trust's president says. "As we’ve been preparing the island for opening, I’ve been constantly amazed by the range of beauty we’re discovering. It’s like unlocking a secret garden! There are so many places to explore on the trail system and along the beaches. We can’t wait to share them with the community." Eventually, an open-air research and education center will be built on the island. The trust will also protect the critical marine habitat that surrounds the island. (Read more Cape Cod stories.)