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Give the Gift of Conservation
And Let VCS Help with Holiday Gift-Giving
Now through the end of the year, new members and gift memberships will
receive their choice of one of three great books: our always-popular
guides to the Walking Trails
and Edible Wild Plants of the Vineyard
, and the special seasonal addition of Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living
. Just call our office at (508) 693-9588 or email us
to let us know who the membership is for and which book you would like.
Quote of the Week
"And, you know, Science magazine may have its own bias."
--Rep. Lamar Smith
, Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and prominent climate change denier, on one of the top peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world
Winter Walk Snapshots
The first Winter Walk of the season was a wonderful stroll through the
woods of Seven Gates Farm. If you missed it, or just want to revisit the
"Goat Rocks," see this slideshow
Cape Coastal Conference:
Managing Coastal Risk
Thursday, Dec. 10, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Hyannis.
Conference, seminar, and workshop day from the Waquoit Bay Coastal
Training Program focusing on climate change and community resilience.
Free, but registration required. Agenda and registration at website
Island Grown Storytime
Thursday, Dec. 10, 10:30 to 11:00 am, West Tisbury.
Guest reader Nicole Cabot shares stories and a love of kale, the Island Grown Harvest of the Month
, during regular story time at the West Tisbury Library. Free and open to all ages. For more info call (508) 693-3366.
Public Hearing: North Bluff Seawall
Thursday, Dec. 10, 7:00 pm, Oak Bluffs.
This week's MV Commission meeting is focused on the DRI review of a
proposed seawall project to protect the North Bluff in Oak Bluffs from
increased storm damage due to sea level rise. Much more info at MVC website
Winter Walking at the Arboretum
Saturday, Dec. 12, 10:00 am, West Tisbury.
Join Polly Hill staff to explore the Arboretum grounds in the
off-season. Winter is when bark patterns and architectural structure
become evident as deciduous trees lose their leaves, the conifers stand
out with their many textures and shades of green, and even some fruits
and flowers appear. Tours run for a little over an hour. Meet at the
Visitor Center and dress for the weather. Free. More info at website
or (508) 693-9426.
Sustainable Book Club: The Sixth Extinction
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Edgartown.
A reading group sponsored by Felix Neck and all six town libraries
dedicated to discussing the connections between people and nature. This
month's book is Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinctio
n (see NYT review
). At the Edgartown Library, free, for more info call (508) 627-4850.
Long Point Beach Walk and Ornament Making
Tuesdays, Dec. 8 and 15, 3:00 to 5:00 pm, West Tisbury.
Spend time with friends and family exploring the beach and gather
natural craft supplies for ornament making in the Visitor Center
afterward. $15 ($10 for TTOR members). For more, see the Trustees' event
, or for directions and property info, Long Point webpage
In Season Recipe
Pickled Kale Stems
Waste no more!
This might be my favorite Harvest of the Month recipe card yet - if only
for the possibility to cut down on the huge amount of kale stems that
get put in the compost. It's a super-simple quick pickle made from kale
stems - check it out
A Winter Scene at Allen Sheep Farm
Farm Wetland in Late Winter, painting by Rez Williams (sold at the
Fresh Paint fundraiser auction this past summer to benefit the work of
Join us this Sunday (Dec. 13) at 1:00 for our second walk of the
season, a visit to the iconic Allen Farm on South Road in Chilmark. The
exact route is still to be determined, but we know it will be an
engaging hike through one of the Island’s most scenic open spaces, known
for its spectacular views out over the south shore. Look for the yellow
VCS flags near the farm entrance, about 1.4 miles down-Island from
Beetlebung Corner, or about 0.7 miles up-Island from the cemetery. We
ask that you please leave your dogs at home – it is a working farm, and the presence of even very well-behaved dogs can frighten the animals.
Allen Farm conservation history: Under the stewardship of the
Allen family, animals have been grazing at Allen Farm for hundreds of
years. In 1991, collaboration between VCS, the Land Bank, the State, and
the Town of Chilmark brought permanent protection to the farm.
Development rights on a critical 22.5-acre portion were purchased
through raising $25,000 in donations, securing grant funding, and the
creation of a 10-year installment purchase agreement. The farm’s owners,
Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin, provided a crucial lift to the
process, donating back a substantial portion of the appraised value of
the development rights. Clarissa and Mitch also placed a conservation
restriction (CR) on an additional 7.3 acres of the farm in 1991, and
another 5.3 acres in 1995. In recent years, the farm installed a wind
turbine on the north side of the property under a state program where
green energy projects are fast-tracked for farms and schools.
Plastic Bag Bylaw Making Progress
Announced at this year's Living Local Harvest Fest,
the VCS effort to eliminate the single-use plastic shopping bag is now
in full swing. Banning the bags Island-wide will require a bylaw to be
adopted by all six Towns individually (an ambitious goal requiring a lot
of legwork), but we are happy to report that it’s off to a good start.
Selectmen in three towns have agreed to add the ban to the warrant for
this spring’s Town Meeting. Edgartown Selectmen did not take a position on the proposed bylaw, agreeing only to put it before the voters, but West Tisbury and Aquinnah are endorsing the article. Three down and three to go!
Taking the push to the Selectmen is resulting in a lot of current newspaper coverage, with good reporting in both the MV Times and Vineyard Gazette.
While the newspaper stories are thorough and provide a solid
introduction to the issues involved, they can’t possibly answer every
question a person might have about the proposed bylaw. So, we’re giving
it a try! Please take a look at this FAQ
and let us know if you have a question we missed. We’ll be using this
document for the next several months as we work to win approval at Town
Meeting in spring – and with any luck, we’ll be using it for many months
after to educate the public on the newly passed bylaw.
Moshup Trail Legal Defense: LIVE Webcast
For a decade and a half, VCS and others have been engaged in a legal
battle to defend the Moshup Trail heathlands from developers seeking to
build a subdivision access road through this fragile and globally rare
habitat. Tomorrow morning at 9:00, oral arguments before the state
Supreme Judicial Court will be streaming live via the Suffolk University Law School.
It has been a long, tangled process that brought this case all the way
to the SJC. Tomorrow is a big day, but we are optimistic, having
repeatedly won in court up until the most recent appeal was decided in
the developer’s favor. Our arguments tomorrow will likely echo those of
the dissenting opinion from the recent case, that the finding represents
“an extraordinary alteration of traditional principles of Massachusetts
law.” Read more about the history of the case at our website, and see the case docket for more on tomorrow’s arguments.
"Deflategate" Lawyer now Defending Oil Giant in Climate Investigation
There are so many important climate stories in the news right now, from the ongoing Paris climate talks, to the recent Congressional attack on scientific freedom, it’s hard to choose one to comment on. But on the day after the second ugly loss in a row for the Local 53,
let’s go with a slightly under-the-radar story for a look at the
equally ugly type of scientific abuse that follows climate change around
as tenaciously as our friend Frostpaw the Polar Bear.
In a humorous twist to the legal battle between the State of New York*
and Exxon Mobil over whether the oil company lied to its own investors
regarding the risk of climate change, Exxon has now added prominent
lawyer Ted Wells to its defense. Wells was recently made famous by the
“Deflategate” scandal, in which he was hired by the National Football
League to lead their investigation into whether the New England Patriots
tampered with footballs.
It’s probably a smart move for Exxon. The Reuter’s article
rightly notes Wells’ experience and success in high-profile cases,
referring to him as a “star” attorney. In addition to representing the
NFL and high-profile political figures, Wells has gotten results for Exxon before
helping the company reach a settlement in a major pollution case with
the state of New Jersey for only 2.5% of the state’s claimed damages
($225 million vs. $8.9 billion).
But given their current situation, it’s the Deflategate case that should
make Wells even more appealing to Exxon. Though he eventually lost on
appeal, Wells demonstrated an ability to build a strong case out of
dubious science. For the NFL’s investigation, Wells contracted the
engineering firm Exponent, viewed by environmental and consumer
protection advocates as notorious mercenaries
willing to conduct studies designed to find whatever data is needed to
make the client's case. Sometimes that’s the properties of air pressure
in footballs, but more typically it’s car safety
, toxic waste dumping in the Amazon
, or the cancer risks of asbestos and second-hand smoke
(non-existent, naturally). So, if Wells likes working with those guys,
making Exxon’s climate science look good in court should be a piece of
* Why is the state of New York going
after Exxon and not, say, the EPA? Because lying about science to the
public is political speech and completely legal, but telling the exact
same lies to your investors is fraud. Further, NYS’s securities fraud
law is strong enough that it might not even be necessary to prove the
deception was intentional.