Once again there is pressure to spend millions of dollars to clean up Noman’s Land. And once again I say, leave it alone.

Noman’s was first leased by the Navy from the Crane family in 1943. In the early years they used explosive ordnance for target practice, but eventually moved away from explosives to smoke-emitting projectiles when the federal government bought the island in 1953.

In the 1960s, the public would look out and see planes strafing the Island and there was a great concern about the wildlife being destroyed. So in 1973, Henry Beetle Hough, the editor of the Vineyard Gazette and one of my great mentors, asked if I would go over there as a biologist, assess the situation and give an honest opinion of what it was like. What I concluded is that it was an absolutely unbelievable place for wildlife — totally protected.

To this day I have been a hawk on no human visitation to Noman’s. Can’t we end up with one incredible place that we leave alone?

During the 1970s and 1980s, I continued to make regular visits under the auspices of the Navy. No private individual has been to Noman’s as much as I have. I have crawled on my belly across that island, overturning every stone. I’ve camped out there. I’ve been for three days in a row studying wildlife. I know it intimately.

It is a migratory bird stopover for the ospreys, eagles and peregrine falcons that frequent our shores. It has probably the largest and healthiest spotted turtle population in the commonwealth — along with two other species of turtle. There are four species of reptiles, including garter snakes, extraordinary for their greenish-blue coloration. Virginia rail nest there along with white egrets and Leach’s storm petrels.

The wildlife on Noman’s is extraordinary. Everything is in harmony.

In a letter to the Navy after one such expedition in 1987, I wrote, “I concede that it is an irony that an island that is actively used as a military target range can also remain a wildlife paradise. However, that is the present condition and should I be allowed to continue my inspections I will be the first to report any change in these conditions.”

After using the west end of Noman’s for target practice, the Navy conducted a massive cleanup of residual metal and other stuff. Fuel tanks, pipelines — everything was taken out. For the first cleanup, which I was there for and watched, they were meticulous and did a good job.

Now people want to go over there and strip everything which will just destroy so much wildlife. They want to open it up for public access, which would be totally detrimental to the habitat.

The art of managing wildlife and a piece of land is to use it proportionally. Wildlife is a product of habitat. You reach points where it’s all you can handle so that’s all we’ll allow. And that’s the way it is because of our population.

If we were talking about Chernobyl and there was a possibility of cleaning up nuclear material, of course you would, but on Noman’s there’s none of that. I’m not a chemist, but you’ve got more natural organisms now that are just now showing themselves. To me it’s the most romantic, mysterious place on earth.

Since the 1970s, I’ve stated in my reports that if this island and its control were relinquished by the Navy, it was going to be the beginning of the degradation of Noman’s. And damn if that isn’t starting to happen.

We should leave it alone and let it be a wildlife refuge, with public access tightly controlled. Perhaps there could be a planet-earth style documentary so that people could experience it without physically going to it.

It just seems in society we can’t take certain pieces of land and just leave them alone. It is such an extraordinary place. It would break my heart to see them go over there and tear that Island up again.

I hope that the good powers that be in the federal government use their knowledge to do the best that they can to maintain the biological integrity of Noman’s Land.

Gus Ben David is a longtime biologist and naturalist who lives in Edgartown.