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Almanac Archive for April 25, 2016

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Quote of the Week
". . . as you drive around the Island this weekend, count the plastic bags and other waste that hangs in our bushes and trees. That is enough to convince some of us."
-- Vineyard Gazette Chilmark columnist Jane Slater, on the plastic shopping bag bylaw
Conservation Calendar

Horseshoe Crab Mating Surveys

Have you ever experienced the beauty of the beach late on a moonless spring night? Or during the full moon? A local study of horseshoe crab mating needs volunteers to conduct surveys of these amazing prehistoric animals every full moon and new moon in May and June. If you are interested, please attend the training session to learn more – and invite your friends!
Training Session: Saturday, May 7, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Edgartown.
Training takes place at Felix Neck and will include time indoors and walking on the beach at the swash line. Please dress for the weather and bring water-resistant boots or shoes appropriate to wear to the edge of a pond. New and returning volunteers welcome. For ages 16 and up, training and all surveys are free. Please call Felix Neck to register at (508) 627-4850.

Arbor Day at the Arboretum
Friday, April 29, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, West Tisbury.
Join the staff of the Polly Hill Arboretum for the annual celebration of the role of trees in our lives. Tree planting and tree climbing demos, and a staff-led walk through the trees. Free, more info at (508) 693-9426 or website.

Land Bank Walk
Sunday, May 1, 1:00 pm, West Tisbury.
See the sights and learn the history of Ice House Pond! Land Bank staff lead a guided walk at Manaquayak Preserve off Lambert's Cove Road. The walk will last approximately 1-2 hours and happens rain or shine. For directions and more information, see website or call (508) 627-7141.

Sheriff's Meadow Walk

Saturday, May 7, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Edg.
SMF staff lead a walk through oak and pitch pine forest and wooded wetlands of the Caroline Tuthill Preserve. Take in the views of the salt marsh along Sengekontacket Pond and look for Lady's Slippers growing along the trail and at the foot of the oak trees. The preserve includes glacial features such as high knobs and sunken kettleholes. More info and directions at website, or call (508) 693-5207.
Understanding the New Lawn Fertilizer Rules

The VCS Homeowner's Guide
Passed at the 2014 Town Meetings and taking effect in 2015, there is now a bylaw in all six towns limiting the usage of fertilizer on lawns. The regulations apply to everyone: homeowners as well as professional lawn care companies. While the technical language of the law may be confusing, have no fear! Simply follow these six guidelines and you can be sure to be in compliance with the law, and have a healthy, non-polluting lawn.

This information was adapted from a print brochure created last year. We still have many copies remaining, so please contact us if you would like to help spread the word! Whether you need a bunch for your homeowner's association, library, church, town office, etc., or just one for your neighbor, send us a message or come on by the office!

Join friends and neighbors in this Island-wide tradition to protect our marine environment! The 24th annual clean-up will be Saturday, April 30, starting at 10:00 am. Volunteers will be stationed at 24 Island beaches with all the supplies you need, so all you have to do to help is show up at your favorite beach! Check out our new Beach Clean-Up homepage for the list of beaches (new this year: Wasque!), plus history of the early days of the event and slideshows from recent years.
While you’re out there Saturday working to protect our beaches and ocean from pollution, please help VCS with our efforts to learn more about where our beach trash comes from. Volunteers will be conducting surveys of what people find – unusual items are always interesting, but we also want to know what types of things were most common. Was it balloons, bottles, or cans on your beach? Or plastic bags? And what seemed to you like the biggest problem? After all, depending on your perspective, one mylar balloon and its string could be worse than a thousand bottle caps.  
And don’t forget: after you finish cleaning up your beach, head over to the Harbor View in Edgartown at noon for fun and refreshments!

See the full poster here, or try this 8.5 x 11 version if you would like to print your own to post.
Major Legal Victory at Moshup Trail

With last week’s announcement from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, our long-running legal battle to protect the rare and endangered Moshup Trail heathlands may have finally come to a successful conclusion. While the partnership of conservation-minded entities (VCS, Land Bank, the Town of Aquinnah, the State, and private landowners) had generally won previous court decisions, the developers intent on accessing their land-locked parcels though “easement by necessity” have been persistent in their appeals. In January 2015 a panel of the state Appeals Court reversed the previous findings, prompting our appeal to, and ultimate victory at, the Mass SJC. Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court remains possible, but would appear unlikely. For more on the story, excellent reporting on the decision (full text here) was done by both the Gazette and Times; history of the protracted legal dispute, as well as background on why this land is so important, can be found at the VCS website.

With your support, working to banish the ghosts of commerce past

Tonight: Chilmark Votes on "Bring Your Own Bag" Bylaw

Annual Town Meeting
7:30, Chilmark Community Center

At tonight's Town Meeting, Chilmarkers will decide whether to take a stand against plastic pollution on our land and in our waters by joining three other Island towns in banning the use of disposable checkout bags. This is an opportunity to make a real difference for our Island environment: plastic bags kill and injure wildlife, increase our local recycling costs, and even contaminate the fish we eat. Please come to Town Meeting and vote!
BYOB 3-for-3: Edgartown, Tisbury, and West Tisbury Overwhelmingly Support Bag Ban

On the evening of April 12th, there was ample nervousness and uncertainty among the VCS staff and volunteers who stood at the podium to explain (and at times defend) the "Bring Your Own Bag" bylaw, but in the end the outcome was better than we could have imagined. Passage was very nearly unanimous in Edgartown and West Tisbury, and while Tisbury recorded a few loud "nays," the vast majority (90%+) of voters there were in support as well. Read all about it in the Gazette's town meeting recap.

Thank you to everyone who helped us get this far – it's far from over, but in the early running, BYOB is 3 for 3!
Kids' Creations: Design Your Own Bag
Why not use something made to last,
instead of something made to be garbage?

And while you’re at it, why not make it yourself? The BYOB bylaw has always been first and foremost about providing a push toward greater use of truly reusable bags. In crafting a realistic, practical bylaw, we had to address that old question, “Paper or plastic?” But in truth, the better answer for a bag that’s comfortable to carry, environmentally sustainable, and long-term affordable is “neither.” For a little inspiration, check out this short slideshow of our Design Your Own Bag (DYOB?) activity, held last Wednesday at the Oak Bluffs Library as part of their Earth Day series of activities.
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) 2016 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.