YOU DECIDE: Nomans Land

Posted by on May 19, 2023 in Stuff You Should Know, You Decide!

Have you ever heard of a location being called a “No Man’s Land”? This phrase describes an uninhabited area that is under dispute. There is an island off the coast of Massachusetts that fits this description. It’s called Nomans Land and it is located just 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) south of Martha’s Vineyard. Few people have heard of this island because from 1943 to 1996, it served as a U.S. Navy missile testing site. Since the Navy stopped its testing there, there have been efforts to clean up the island. But it remains littered with un-detonated explosives that makes it too dangerous for humans. It is now closed to the public. Recently, however, residents and scientists alike have begun to ask the question of what to do with the island. Should it be kept as it is, or made hospitable for humans?  

YOU DECIDE: Should Nomans Land, Massachusetts, be cleaned and opened to the public? 


  • Wildlife has taken over the island, including seals, turtles, and twenty-five species of songbirds. The island also provides diverse habitats, such as wetlands and shrubland.   
  • Attempts to clean up the island could detonate the remaining explosives and damage the wildlife and their habitats.  
  • Currently, the island is an important location for many research projects, such as endangered species protection and invasive species control.  


  • The island has abundant natural beauty and would make an excellent tourist destination if cleaned up. It could also be a useful destination for additional scientific researchers. 
  • If Nomans Land is left alone, remaining unexploded devices could wash away into the ocean and then endanger the residents and visitors of Martha’s Vineyard. 
  • The unexploded devices could eventually leak harmful substances into the soil and groundwater, contaminating the same aquifer that provides the only fresh water source for Martha’s Vineyard.

Should Nomans Land, Massachusetts, be cleaned and opened to the public?