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Almanac Archive for February 3, 2015

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Quote of the Week
"As often happens, politicians would do well to catch up with the electorate."
--Phil Sharp of Resources for the Future, commenting on a poll conducted by his group, Stanford University, and the New York Times finding that the majority of Americans (including 51% of Republicans) favor government action to address global warming. 
Winter Has Come

photos by Brendan O'Neill, see slideshow
Conservation Calendar

Island Grown Storytime

Thursday, Feb. 12, 10:30 to 11:00 am, West Tisbury

Storytime at the West Tisbury Library features a celebration of pea shoots, February's Harvest of the Month from Island Grown Schools. Free and open to all ages, more at WT Library.

Winter Walking at the Arboretum

Saturday, Feb. 14, 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.

North Shore Walk
Sunday, Feb. 15, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Chilmark
The Trustees of Reservations host a walk at one of their conservation restriction properties, featuring wetlands, rare habitat, and trails leading to a beach. Moderate to strenuous hiking conditions. $10 (free for TTOR members) and pre-registration required, call (508) 693-7662 or email.
In Season Recipe
Pea Shoot Salad

Island Grown School's Harvest of the Month for February is pea shoots (see storytime event above). We don't have a recipe from Chef Robin yet, so we're going to keep it simple: just imagine a basic pub salad (a la our local alehouse) with pea shoots in place of lettuce. Here's a great example from "Meg's Food Reality":

  • 4 cups pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped roughly
  • 1 pear, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup or 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Preparation: Lightly place the pea shoots in a medium size salad bowl or platter. Sprinkle chopped pecans and pear slices on top. Then crumble blue cheese all over. Drizzle vinaigrette on top.

Balsamic Lemon Vinaigrette:
  • 2 tbsp. honey mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Whisk together the honey mustard, lemon zest and juice, and balsamic vinegar. Taste and flavor with salt and pepper, then slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Local News

VCS Through the Decades: 1990s
A Winter Walk at Allen Sheep Farm

The vista from South Road toward the Atlantic. Or check out some warmer scenes: last October, or this from over ten years ago.

Our fourth Winter Walk of the season revisits an important piece of conservation work from the beginning of VCS’s fourth decade, the 1990s. 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.

The walk is scheduled for this Sunday (Feb. 8), but due to lingering snow and ice from the blizzard we may be forced to reschedule – please make sure to check our website and look out for email updates before heading out! Stubborn snow also leaves the exact route for the hike still to be determined, but it is sure to be an engaging walk with, of course, the amazing scenery of one of the most spectacular open spaces on the Island. Parking will be at or near the Allen Sheep Farm entrance – look for VCS flags as you drive South Road. We hope to see you there!

All VCS Winter Walks are free, start at 1:00 and are about 2 hours long, followed by cider and cookies. Walks are regularly scheduled for the second Sunday of the month.

Offshore Wind Takes Another Step Toward Reality, but Bids Fewer and Smaller than Expected

The four offshore wind sites auctioned last week, two of which were purchased. The blue area to the northwest was auctioned in 2013 for more than 10 times the price per acre. Click for full graphic. (Data from BOEM, graphic by David Butler/Boston Globe)

A major milestone was reached last week in the effort to bring offshore wind energy production to Massachusetts, as the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held an auction for the development rights to four large areas about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Only two bids were submitted, each winning one of the four designated areas. One of the winners was Offshore MW (the American affiliate of a German renewable energy company), who had partnered with our local energy cooperative Vineyard Power. A good summary of the deal and Vineyard Power's plans can be found at the Vineyard Gazette. The second winner was RES Americas, an arm of the British-based RES Ltd. The bid from RES was considerably higher at $281,285 than Offshore MW's $166,886, in part due to the discount received by the latter for their partnership with Vineyard Power, and presumably also due to RES winning the site closest to the shore.
The larger story, as related by the Boston Globe and Providence Journal, appears to be that there were only two bidders in the auction, and that the leases awarded went for much lower prices than expected. The areas auctioned are very large and well-positioned to generate a lot of power (the two that sold could produce 2 gigawatts in total, more than four times the projected 468 megawatts of the currently stalled Cape Wind), but they are also far offshore and in deep water, raising the challenge and cost of construction and transmission. As global oil prices continue to fall, the short-term prognoses of all types of energy development look less profitable, regardless of their environmental, social, or health impacts. Just as cheap Saudi oil and North American shale gas have undercut the economic argument for the Keystone XL pipeline (see the last Almanac), it seems to have undermined the immediate prospects for cleaner energy as well.
Fifty Tips for Protecting Our Island's Environment

A "Timely" Tip from VCS
If you are among those security-conscious homeowners who believe that lights on timers will prevent potential break-ins in your absence, please think again! Quite frankly, it is most likely you are simply wasting energy worrying about theft, as the bad guys are generally well-trained in detecting common timer patterns. But also, please consider unplugging those timers because night-time lighting has other significant environmental costs. Light pollution, especially when visible from the coast, can wreak havoc on the navigational systems of migrating birds. Also, many rare and beautiful moths (some endangered) are drawn to outdoor lighting – where the light-trapped and spotlighted concentration of prey can suffer enormous mortality in an ecological instant.

As we celebrate our fiftieth year of protecting our Island environment, VCS plans to share fifty tips to help all of us work more effectively toward that goal. We know that many regular readers will already be aware of some of them this is the Conservation Almanac after all  so please help spread the word by sharing on facebook and other social media! Special thanks to Linda Jones for her work on this feature.
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

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Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.