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Almanac Archive 6/20/2011

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VCS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, June 28, 5:30 pm
at the Wakeman Conservation Center off of Lambert's Cove Road
At this year's meeting, Jeremy Houser will be giving a presentation on his research about the local effects of global climate change, so don't miss it.
Appetizers and wine will be served.
All are welcome. FREE

Fact of the Week

It is now clear that the Earth has entered a period of considerable climate change, threatening our coastline, ponds, farmland, wildlife habitats, buildings, and economy. The Vineyard is projected to see a greater frequency of hurricanes and major storms, a rise in sea level that threatens low-lying areas (such as the Vineyard Haven waterfront and much of downtown Edgartown), and a warmer climate that translates into changing plant and animal species. Our warmer, dryer summers will likely lead to low water levels in nontidal ponds, further concentrating nitrogen pollution.
-MV Island Plan

Clicke HERE to read it.

Conservation Calendar

Seashore Discovery

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown.
Meet creatures of the sea including crabs, whelks and scallops. Cost is $9 or $6 for Mass Audubon members; free for kids under three.

Native Plants and Invasive Species on Martha's Vineyard

Garden Club Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, June 21, at  1:00 p.m. at the Old Mill in West Tisbury.

Members are free, guests $5. For more information, call 508-693-5334.

Otters at the Chilmark Library

Wednesday, June 22, at 5:30 p.m.
Luanne Johnson, wildlife biologist, presents Otters! at the Chilmark Library.  Free.

State Beach Exploration
Thursday, June 23, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Polly Hill Arboretum.

Naturalist Dick Johnson leads an exploration of State Beach and Sengekontaket Pond. $20 general admission, and $10 for PHA members. For registration and carpool information, call 508 693 9426.

Used Book Drop-off Day
Oak Bluffs Public Library,
Thursday, July 7, 4:00 pm - 7:00pm.

Drop off your used books for the Library Friends Annual Book Sale.  Help by donating your slightly used books, DVDs, & CDs.  This is the FINAL drop-off day before the big sale,
July 21 - 23.

In Season Recipe

Local Strawberry Shortcake

  • 1 quart of Whipporwill Farm strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar

    Cake Batter
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup Mermaid Farm milk
  • 2 local eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Sweetened Whip Cream
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar


Early in the day, prepare the strawberries. Wash and cut or pull tops off of strawberries. Make at least two slices from from top to bottom of each strawberry. Put in a covered container. Pour sugar over top, cover and put in the refrigerator. During the day, shake the container occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour 9" square pan. In small mixer bowl combine all cake ingredients. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Just prior to serving whip cream and sugar.

Cut cake into nine squares. Slice each square horizontally. Place both halves on serving plate. Spoon strawberries on cake. Dollop whipped cream on top and then ladle clear strawberry juice over cream.

Monday, June 20
Local News

Tread Lightly

Gay Head Cliffs

Orginally printed in the VCS Spring Newsletter.


For the past three years, I’ve lived on two islands. As my feet traveled the familiar roads of today’s Martha’s Vineyard, my mind wandered back in time to Noepe, the island as it was when the first small band of English settlers arrived here.

I’ve been writing a novel called Caleb’s Crossing, a work of fiction inspired by the fact that the first Native American graduate of Harvard in 1665 was an Island Wampanoag named Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck. Facts about the life of that remarkable young man are sadly scant. In trying to create an imaginary version of what his life might have been like, I have had to delve into the history of the island, the written accounts, but also the story as it has been etched upon the landscape.

When the English arrived here, there were probably more than 3,000 Wampanoag Indians living – and living well – on the Island. (Early English writings invariably note how tall and healthy the indigenous people appear.) By all accounts, they lived lightly, divided into several bands of varying size. In summer, they camped near the shore, feasting on shellfish, hunting waterfowl, building fish traps woven of supple withes. They gardened with hoes formed from clamshells; raised squash, corn and beans in companion-plantings that suppressed weeds and minimally disturbed the soil. They gathered a bounty of native berries, from fat strawberries in spring to blueberries in summer and the crimson gems of cranberries in fall. 

Click HERE to read the full story.

Ocean Acidification

South Shore Surf

This Fall, the Vineyard Conservation Society was awarded a generous grant from the Edey Foundation to look at risks to natural resource conservation on Martha’s Vineyard as a result of global climate change, and identify adaptation strategies worth advocating for. Jeremy Houser was hired to conduct that year long study. Some of his findings will be released for the first time ever at the VCS annual meeting, dont miss it.

An interesting bit from the report:

Everyone knows the ocean provides great benefits to our island – from fishing and shellfishing, to tourism dollars, to the mild climate that we all enjoy. But oceans provide another relatively invisible service to the world at large. By absorbing large amounts of the excess CO₂ produced by our reliance on fossil fuels, the world's oceans act as a buffer to climate change, greatly reducing the warming we would have seen to date had all of that CO₂ remained in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, taking one for the team has come with a cost that is only beginning to be understood: the dissolved CO₂ produces carbonic acid that is gradually lowering the pH of the water.

This process – known as ocean acidification – will impact any marine organisms that are sensitive to pH (that is, most of them). Perhaps the most strongly affected are shellfish, who find it much more difficult to build their calcium carbonate shells as pH declines. It is a new area of research, but the studies are now coming quickly. For example, scientists found that clams, scallops, and oysters grew more slowly when CO₂ concentrations were raised to levels expected later this century; further, 50% fewer quahog and scallop larvae survived. Another study compared current conditions to those of the past, and found that quahogs and scallops grew faster, had thicker shells, and greater survival in pre-industrial CO₂ levels than in today's. Unfortunately, these lab studies may underestimate the effect of growth rate and shell thickness on mortality in the wild due to predation. The science is becoming increasingly clear that ocean acidification will have a very large impact of shellfish populations and the future course of the fishery.

VCS Recyling Initiative- Our Marine Environment and the Games we Play

Menemsha Stripers

Martha’s Vineyard is a resort community for 16 weeks a year and the activities that define that type of setting generate a unique waste management situation.  It is fast paced and consumer driven.  Vacationers don’t always bring their best habits from home and often forget that recycling continues when they are on vacation.  (A message to those who rent their homes to vacationers; post reminders about recycling and retain a  waste hauling company which will keep recyclables separate).   We covered some of our fast food and convenience store situations in a previous report but this segment is more about our water dependent recreational opportunities here and what we can do to minimize the impacts of the waste generated during these activities.  Fishing is one such activity.  Bad fishermen can make a real mess with litter and bait boxes and  bottles often greet beach goers in the morning.  Not that it’s an excuse for careless handing of one’s waste but many fishing spots lack recycling containers or even trash receptacles.  More of both would probably help.  As towns deal with increased costs to provide services this is one of the areas they often cut.  Edgartown no longer provides collection containers at Wilson’s Landing resulting in one of the most heavily littered boat launch ramps on the island.   Litter often attracts illegal disposal; seems that some people don’t need much of an excuse to toss their waste to the side of the road.

To read the full article click HERE.

Other News

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15: Know which fruits and veggies you should always buy organic

The Environmental Working Group has released their 2011 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide lists the 12 conventionally grown crops with the highest amount of pesticide residues making it to the produce aisle shelf, as well as 15 cleaner foods where buying organic may be less important. With ever-rising food prices, it's a great resource for budget-conscious shoppers who want to avoid pesticides while enjoying the overall health benefits of eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Click HERE for the Guide.