The scene at Trade Wind Fields Preserve is like most dog parks. Groups of owners gather, chatting as their dogs play together, frolicking about, sniffing through the nearby woods, or nosing at a pocket that conceals a bag of treats. It’s a time of socialization for the dogs and the people.

But Trade Winds is not a dog park. The open field located off County Road in Oak Bluffs is an active (intermittently) air field and protected Land Bank property.

Boo Radley and Angus are free to frolic. — Jeanna Shepard

The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank bought the property in 1989 to preserve the sandplain grassland, home to species like the purple tiger beetle, sickle-leaved golden aster, bearberry, purple needle grass, sandplain blue-eyed grass and wild indigo. Over the years, enforcement has been lax in the area, with walkers only asked via signs to stay off the grassy strips and stick to the paths. Dogs have been allowed to roam freely, with no requested restrictions on their travel plans, as canine wandering was deemed less destructive than a person’s boots.

But recently the land bank has turned its attention to misuse of the property, leaving some in the dog community concerned.

Matthew Dix, conservation lands foreman for the land bank, said last year his board expressed concerns that the management strategies being used were not effective in conserving the sandplain grasses. Trails had been worn through the airplane runway and taxi strip by repeated use, and the fields were being used as places to play fetch.

Mr. Dix said he tried blocking the illegal trails with brush and keeping the grasses along the edge of the trails high to discourage people from walking into the middle of the fields, but to no avail. Signs were pulled out and fallen trees blocking the paths were dragged out of the way.

Popular destination for dogs and owners has traditionally been loosely managed. — Jeanna Shepard

“This particular demographic is not usually one we have a hard time enforcing rules with,” he said. “Fifty to seventy year old people disregarding signs . . . the usual scofflaws are teens.”

In January, Mr. Dix appointed a part-time attendant, Patty Culkins, to visit the property and remind people to stay on the trails. Further plans include increased signage, a singular trail head that splits into the two existing trails off the County Road parking lot and regrowth efforts over some of the illegal trails.

On a recent afternoon, dog walkers circled the trails that surround the taxi and landing strips and wind through the surrounding woods. Rita Brown, Lee-Ann Yeddo and Marsha Eldridge were walking their six elderly dogs along the path in the preserve.

Ms. Brown has been coming to Trade Winds for 16 years with her four dogs, Ms. Eldridge for 11 years, and Ms. Yeddo for 13. They met up accidently on their walks today, which is often what happens.

“You get to know the dogs’ names and eventually you get to know the people too,” said Ms. Eldridge. “We can’t go to the beaches, we’ve kind of taken over this area.”

Daisy takes a moment by herself. — Jeanna Shepard

Ms. Brown recalled when she first started coming to the area, there were fewer walkers and nobody walked in the middle of the fields. She reckoned about 11 years ago people began to walk in the middle of the plains. The three agreed they had no problem with staying off the grass plains, but were hopeful that a cross-over path on the taxi-way could be kept.

“A lot of people who are older, run out of energy and a short cut back is immeasurably helpful,” said Ms. Brown.

Mr. Dix said the hardest part about keeping a cross-over path would be changing the management plan which would require hearings and going to the state. There are also safety concerns. Mr. Dix said that crossover paths make standing in the middle of the field tempting.

“As soon as they get out there, that’s where the main impact is, they’re throwing balls, the ground is torn up right in the middle of these places,” he said. “Multiple people have told me if you just give me a cross-over it’s fine. But it becomes an attractive nuisance, it’s hard to not stop and enjoy the open space there.”

Though only two pilots have registered to use Trade Winds so far, it is an active airfield. Mr. Dix has set up a small committee of private pilots to address their needs and wishes for the property.

“We want to get all of our users to the table,” he said. “The dog community has their needs, but we do want all the angles, ecologists, dog walkers, mine and pilots.”

Rose Cecil, Jane Hawkes, and Mary McManama. — Jeanna Shepard

Although there have been rumors that trails from the parking lot through the woods and to the main trail would be shut down, Mr. Dix said he did not plan to close those trails. Instead, he plans to move all the openings to one gathering area just past the parking lot and stock it with signage and waste stations. The original management plan shows the trail closed, he said, but the community was too attached to it.

“There’s no way to close the trail down,” he said. “It is so important to them to have a loop system, I backed away and allowed them to maintain it. I will still allow that but angle to start from one point.”

Still, some dog owners and Trade Wind abutters fear the property will become yet another place that limits dog use.

“We lost Lambert’s Cove Beach, which was one of the safest, most wonderful places for dogs to run, because people didn’t pick up after themselves,” Kerry Scott said. Ms. Scott is a long time user of Trade Winds and can see the property from her home window.

“From my vantage point, there was never a time when people respected the limits, not once,” she said. “Signs disappeared within days. I’m honestly so sorry it has come to this.”

Two pilots have registered to use Trade Winds so far. — Jeanna Shepard

Lindsay Webster comes to Trade Winds often, looping the fields twice for a three-mile walk with her two dogs, Belly a spaniel mix, and Radley who she described as “part-dinosaur.” Belly and Radley were off-leash wrestling together, running a few yards away before returning and sniffing near Ms. Webster’s feet. For her, keeping the property open for unleashed dogs is important. “A dog on a leash is a different dog,” she said. But the majority of recent changes made by the land bank, she welcomes.

“I’m thankful they installed the waste stations,” she said.

While Mr. Dix said the land bank will not be enforcing a leash law on the property, a pamphlet available on the land bank website states “Owners must keep dogs on designated trails. Owners must keep dogs off the runway and taxi way; leash pets if necessary.”

Mr. Dix said the pamphlet is not finalized and they do not expect dogs to stay completely off the open fields. He explained that a dog will run varied paths in the grass and not damage the grass. It’s the owners he’s worried about.

“We’re not saying their dogs can’t run free, we’re saying the people need to be on the path,” he said.