Bumpkin Island? Gallops Island?

They're Right here in Massachusetts!

One of the best things about being a State Representative is all the mail you get.

And I love mail. Yes, letters, newsletters, catalogs, tapes, even junkmail.

There's always something to read. And, something to learn.

Recently, the Boston Harbor Association's newsletter arrived, and I was fascinated to read about the many islands off our shore, islands that I've never heard of. And I bet you haven't either.

Now, being from Iowa originally, we didn't have islands. Sandbars, sometimes, in the middle of the Missouri River. But no islands. So I was fascinated to learn that Massachusetts' harbor islands have become a National Recreation Area.

That means there are a lot of plans to make the islands more interesting to visitors.

All together there are 31 islands. And the National Park Service thinks they'll one day attract 500,000 visitors a year, create 700 jobs, and pump $200-million into the economy. A network of year around water transportation connecting the islands and the mainland is being planned. And some $30-million will be spend to improve beaches.

The islands are diverse.

For example, Spectator Island Park will be built on the existing landfill on that island, and offer walking trails beaches, picnic areas, pier and visitor center.

Calf Island has ruins of the Cheney Estate. Gallops Island features grassy bluffs and a great view of Boston's skyline, as well as a heron rookery. Herons, along with periwinkles, snails, starfish and sea anemones, enjoy the natural habitat of the rugged Brewsters.

The remains of Fort Strong are on Long Island, which can be reached by a causeway across Moon Island. Bumpkin Island has picturesque stone ruins.

Slate Island, Grape Island, Sheep Island, Nut Island, Hangman Island, Spectacle Island, Castle Island, Hog Island, Raccoon Island. They're all there, along with Deer Island.

I'm not sure I want to visit Deer Island, with its brand new public walkway winding around egg-shaped sludge digesters. But, if you're fascinated by the innards of a sewage treatment plant, you can request a tour.

I would, however, like to visit the first lighthouse in America. Boston Light, in Boston Harbor. And I'd love to know who named all these islands. And why.

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