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Almanac Archive for January 6, 2014

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Quote of the Week
"This is the classic battle between the two quintessential values that are in direct conflict with each other. On a lot of different levels, this case could make some new law.”
--Matthew J. Festa, South Texas College of Law, in the Texas Tribune "Underground Trespassing" story (see below)
Conservation Calendar

Documentary Film on Genetically Modified Organisms
Thursday, Jan 16 at 6:00 pm, Oak Bluffs.
"Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives" showing at the Oak Bluffs Library. Presented by Slow Food M.V. For more info, call (508) 693-9433.

Owl Night at Felix Neck

Friday, Jan 17 at 6:00 pm, Edgartown.
Join Felix Neck for the Big Moon Owl Prowl, a full moon walk and educational program. $5, free for members. For more info, call (508) 627-4850.

Guided Birding Tours

Saturday, Jan 18, 1:00 to 3:30 pm, starting at MV Reg. High School.
Visit birding hot spots with your guide Robert Culbert. Carpool will depart from the high school faculty parking lot. Cost is $30 per adult, $15 for under 18. For more details, call (508) 693-4908.

Walk the Brickyard
Sunday, Jan 19, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Chilmark.
A once-a-year chance to explore the old cottage, walk the brickwork ruins, and hear the stories of a once prosperous industry. Light to moderate hiking conditions: many of the walking paths are deer runs and a brook crossing is required. $10, free for TTOR members. For more info, email or call (508) 693-7662.

Farm Visits

Wednesdays, 10:00 am, Chilmark.
For toddlers with an adult, call (508) 645-3304 for more info or to arrange to come by at a different time. At Native Earth Teaching Farm on North Road, Chilmark.

Kids' Outdoor Education

Sundays, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Aquinnah.
Squirrels and coyotes meet at Sassafras Earth Education for adventure, games, and outdoor skill development. For ages 6-13, $40 per session (walk-in rate). For more info email or call (508) 645-2008.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Local News

Next Winter Walk: The Woods Preserve

Frances Newhall Woods Preserve with Fisher Pond visible in background

The VCS Winter Walks program continues this Sunday at 1:00 with a return to the ever-changing Frances Newhall Woods Preserve. Located across the towns of West Tisbury and Chilmark, the 512-acre property provides one of the largest intact ecosystems on our island, including at least eight distinct natural communities, ten different soil types, and more than 200 plant and animal species.

VCS has offered guided walks on the Woods Preserve since its protection in 1991, when the owners, Edwin Newhall Woods and Jeanne Woods donated a permanent Conservation Restriction (CR) to the Nature Conservancy (TNC). The land was bequeathed to TNC upon the Woods’ death, and the CR was conveyed to VCS last year.

The walk will last one to two hours, followed by cider and cookies. Please dress for the weather, and keep any dogs on leashes. Parking is off North Rd. about one mile from its West Tisbury end; look for VCS signs and flags on the left. For additional info, please email our office.
Conservation Gains Ground at Moshup

The windswept heathlands of Moshup Trail (slideshow)

by Brendan O’Neill
As 2013 drew to a close, the Vineyard Conservation Society welcomed a year-end gift of land from the Kennedy/Schlossberg family’s Red Gate Farm, LLC. The land consists of 17 individual parcels totaling about 30 acres near Moshup Trail in Aquinnah. The parcels range in size from a fraction of an acre to almost six acres in size. This gift will expand the area of permanently protected coastal heathlands, a globally rare habitat.

VCS wishes to express our gratitude for this gift to the entire Island’s natural environment. It represents an important conservation gain, adding several strategic heathland sites to the Moshup conservation area. The Moshup project is an ongoing collaborative effort to conserve this rare place involving individuals, foundations, conservation groups and the Commonwealth. More than 90% of coastal heathlands have been eradicated worldwide due largely to human influences, but VCS has worked for decades – and will continue to do so – to protect what remains of this globally rare resource.
Other News

A New Take on Groundwater Pollution: Underground Trespassing

Anything that challenges the notion that land boundaries are simple and sacrosanct is bound to be controversial. Who wins when the private property rights of landowners conflict with the interests of big business? Or more specifically, what if one were to reframe the issue of contamination of an aquifer as “trespassing” and then bring that case to court in Texas, a.k.a. the land of not-being-messed-with?
What should be a fascinating court case is scheduled to begin January 7th, when a rice farm squares off against a company that operates wells used by the oil and gas industry. In short, since 1997 the drilling company has been running an injection well about 400 feet from the rice farm’s property line, injecting over 100 million gallons of wastewater into the aquifer. There is no way to directly observe whether the wastewater has migrated across the farm’s boundary, but based on models used by state and federal regulators it is likely, according to the farm’s expert witness. Read more at the Texas Tribune.
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Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.