About the IPA

The three interconnected 100+-acre ponds in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts — Mystic Lake, Middle Pond, and Hamblin Pond — are, together, the Indian Ponds. They’re kettlehole ponds, formed by pieces of ice left behind when the glaciers receded, and form an ecosystem that supports wildlife in, on, and off the water. They’re also an integral part of the local community, and residents and visitors use the ponds for swiming, fishing, and boating year round.

The Indian Ponds Association’s mission is to preserve and protect the natural environment and ecological systems of the Indian Ponds and surrounding parcels of lands and watershed, and to participate in studies and work with other agencies, individuals, and groups to educate the public, serve the community, and promote and preserve the Indian Ponds and surrounding areas.

To that end, the Association members have been monitoring our ponds’ health and advocating for responsible stewardship since its inception in 1958. 

Here are the some of the highlights of over a half century of history:

1958: The Association was formed by property owners in Marstons Mills surrounding the so-called Indian Ponds: Mystic Lake, Middle Pond, and Hamblin Pond. These people recognized at an early stage the threat of overpopulation and exploitation of the fragile ecology in this area.

1961: The Association convinced the Town of Barnstable that larger lot sizes were essential to prevent contamination of the lakes, and the first one-acre zoning on Cape Cod was established.

1963: The Association was active in researching and supporting the existing roadway width in the area.

1967: We proposed and were successful in establishing a 1200 acre conservation area by the Town of Barnstable.

The early 1970s: The Association researched and successfully opposed the commercialization of the natural resources.

1975: We proposed and were successful in establishing a Town of Barnstable By-law pertaining to the 10 HP maximum motor size on the freshwater lakes in order to minimize ecological damage.

1981: We succeeded in convincing developers to refrain from draining lake water to supply man-made ponds.  By doing so, the Association acquired a restriction that land at the end of Middle Pond be undeveloped and left in a natural state, with permanent rights to oversee this.

1983: A letter from us to Selectmen influenced a revision in the Lozanno & White consultants’ planning recommendations which gave greater emphasis to water quality as a top priority issue. Also, petitions sent to Selectmen (125 signatures) protesting the Rte 149 and Osterville – West Barnstable Road development had considerable impact in influencing the Town’s subsequent acquisition of the area for conservation.

1984: A letter sent to members, and distributed even more widely, helped marshal public opinion to vote down in referendum the proposed sixty-acre Services and Distribution area proposal in Marstons Mills. The IPA also applied for and was granted 501(c)(4) status by the IRS qualifying it as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

1985-2000: The Association remained a vigilant and concerned participant in matters of local zoning and conservation, actively supporting measures that would protect the environment and maintain the water quality of the three Great Ponds.

2001:  Early in the year, it became apparent that the Middle Pond herring run had been left open for well over a year resulting in the loss of tens of millions and millions of gallons of precious water. This caused a marked lowering of the water levels of both Middle Pond and Mystic Lake, a condition seriously exacerbated by the subsequent drought that began in late 2001 and continued until early 2003. This, together with a decision by the Town Conservation Commission in July 2001 to approve the lowering of the herring run ladder by 1.6 feet so as to ensure the movement of alewives in and out of Middle Pond during periods of low water, stimulated the Association to oppose the Commission’s decision. In addition, the IPA launched a campaign to ensure more responsible management of the herring run and to advise and educate residents and government officials on the risk of environmental degradation to the physical and biological components of the Indian Ponds ecosystem and the surrounding watershed from lowered water levels.

2001: We began publishing the IPA newsletter. Initially issued three times a year, it now is sent quarterly to a distribution of over 400 households, individuals, and government officials.

2002: The IPA was officially incorporated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and also applied for and received official designation by the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General as a public charity. An IPA web site on the Internet was established.

2003: The Association was officially granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS making it possible for membership dues and other donations to the IPA to be deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.

We’ve continued to be active since, and our newsletters document what has happened since.

If you’d like to know more about the IPA, you can read the IPA Articles of Organization or the IPA By-laws.