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Quote of the Week
"We abuse land because we regard it as a
commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we
belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
Green Fire Burns at MV Film Center
On Saturday, Jan 12
the Green on Screen collaboration
between VCS and the MV Film Society expands to include Sheriff’s Meadow
Foundation for a presentation of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time
. From the film's site
Green Fire highlights Leopold’s
extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern
environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring
projects all over the country that connect people and land.
The film, brought to our attention by SMF, will be preceded by opening
remarks from their Executive Director Adam Moore. The event will be at
the new Martha's Vineyard Film Center at the Tisbury Marketplace on
Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. Admission is $10, or $7 for VCS and MVFS
members. Doors open at 3:30 pm, showing begins at 4:00, and a discussion
will follow the movie.
Introduction to Dragonflies and Damselflies
Tuesday, Jan 8, 8:00 to 9:00 pm, at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.
Susie Bowman, Teacher/Naturalist at Felix Neck, will present a slide
show/lecture on these fascinating acrobatic insects. She will also talk
about Felix Neck's Citizen Science Odonate Survey Project, which
welcomes interested volunteers. Free, no registration required.
Geology Rocks with The Trustees of Reservations
Saturday, Jan 12, 10:00 am to noon, West Tisbury.
Explore the beaches and sandplain grasslands of Long Point with a
naturalist guide. Free event, dress warmly, no dogs allowed. Meet at the
winter (Deep Bottom Rd.) parking lot (directions here
). Call 508 693-7662 to preregister.
Polly Hill Winter Walk
Saturday, Jan 12, 10:00 am, at the Polly Hill Arboretum.
Tours run for a little over an hour. Meet at the Visitor Center and dress for the weather. Free. For details, see website
or call 508-693-9426.
Sassafras Winter Programs
Beginning January 12:
Squirrels and Coyotes
Children's programs for ages 6+, Saturdays, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
3rd Sunday of the month (Jan 20) from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Monday, Jan 14
For more information on these and other programs, see website or call 508 645-2008.
In Season Recipe
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
This hearty, warming soup recipe, adapted from CHOW Test Kitchen’s Christine Gallary (video here
may seem complicated at first, but makes up for that and more by
avoiding the annoyance (and danger!) of trying to peel winter squash.
2 locally-grown medium-size butternut squash (about 4 lbs), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium tart apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)
For methods, see CHOW.com
|Thursday, January 3, 2013
Next Winter Walk: Sunday, Jan. 13 at Katama Airpark
Aviation and conservation lie
side by side in Katama. Is it a picture-perfect example of harmonious
coexistence or habitat fragmentation? Probably a little of both, yet
neither. (Photo by Brendan O'Neill)
The historic Katama Airpark is the site of the 3rd VCS Winter
Walk this season. Katama’s grass-only airfield allows visitors the
amazing luxury of landing within easy walking distance of a perfect
beach day, with the ability to fly home that afternoon. Because it also
happens to sit amidst the globally rare and threatened sandplain
grassland and coastal heathland ecosystems that define the unique
ecological character of our island, conservation at the site has long
been a priority.
Ecologist Matt Pelikan from the Nature Conservancy will help lead the
walk and share insight into the conservation history of the area and the
unique flora and fauna of the sandplain grassland ecosystem. As always,
the walk is free and cider and cookies will be served. For more
information or details about the walk, call 508 693-9588 or check our
website next week.
Holding Human Health Over the Coals
The next installment of Liz Durkee's series on climate change impacts
on our island tackles one of the more challenging subjects: the effects
on our own physical and mental health. Some effects are obvious – more
heat waves mean more heat strokes – but in many cases the connections
are murkier than those between climate change and the physical world.
Building on an impressive amount of old-fashioned reporting legwork, in this article
Liz makes the case that our health is connected to the environment in
general. From that it follows that changes to the environment inevitably
lead to changes to our health.
"As humans and patients we need to
understand the connection between human health and the environment.
Mold, for example, is linked to allergies which are linked to depression
(which is linked to Lyme Disease); all spring from the natural world –
moisture, plants, air quality, extreme weather. Seeing the causes can
help bridge the gap between symptoms and successful treatment.”
Stream Restoration and Coastal Flooding Protection Get a Boost from State Government
This week, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill
to provide funding for the removal or repair of dams and coastal
infrastructure. The bill states that half the money is to go to dam
projects and half to coastal flooding mitigation. Though seemingly
similar on a fundamental level (we have some big walls meant to hold
water in place, and they need attention), the bill lumps together two
distinctly different problems. Removal of dams from streams and rivers
is primarily an ecological issue; or, more completely, a balancing of
improving the health of waterways by restoring natural streams against
the cost of removing the dams and people’s attachment to them for
cultural or economic reasons. People like ponds (and hydroelectric
power), but freshwater streams provide more important habitat.
However, improving infrastructure to protect against coastal flooding
is, from the environmental perspective, a bit thornier. There is no
doubt that there are coastal resources – homes, businesses, and the
beaches and wetlands themselves – in need of better protection.
Hopefully, this half of the money will be spent in ways that are both
environmentally aware and conscious: let’s build our new protections
with the reality of more powerful storms and rising seas in mind, but
also avoid new hard structures that save one building or beach while
Scientists Attempt to Untangle Web of Changes Affecting Wetlands
Experimental enclosures at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's field site on the Chesapeake Bay (photo by Adam Langley)
Viewed in total, the interconnections of earth’s various systems –
physical attributes, like water, land, and climate, and the myriad
ecological interactions among the biota – are so massively complex that
it’s no wonder that relatively simple changes can have huge and
unpredictable consequences. Take, for example, the introduction of a single exotic species
that, surprisingly well-adapted for its new environment but free of the
natural enemies that ordinarily keep it in check, runs amok in a new
home creating all sorts of cascading effects far beyond merely
out-competing the previous resident of its ecological niche.
It is no wonder, then, that when multiple dimensions are altered at once
(the true state of affairs here on earth) the results are maddeningly
complex. What happens when we not only introduce an invasive species,
but also add a sprinkle of pollution, lots more nutrients, and change
the climate all at once? At some level, a precise answer is unknowable
since the situation is continually changing while the data is being
collected, but scientists are giving it a shot.
As described in Smithsonian Magazine,
scientists working in tidal marshes of the Chesapeake Bay have been
taking a more holistic, yet still properly controlled, approach to
studying the ecosystem effects of recent changes to coastal waters.
Large enclosures in the Bay are pumped full of nitrogen and carbon
dioxide to create conditions more similar to those predicted for the
near future, where impacts on the plants, animals, and soil within the
enclosures can be clearly monitored. Recently they’ve added a third
category of variable to the soup – the invasive reed Phragmites australis.
Unsurprisingly, the reed responds positively to more nutrients and CO2. Since Phragmites
itself tends to transform the ecosystems it invades, we can be fairly
certain that the invader, working in concert with other ongoing changes,
will create complex and significant alterations. So what happens if
those other changes – more nutrients, warmer water, higher CO2 concentration – actually give Phragmites (or other invasives) an edge in its competition with natives?