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Almanac Archive for July 7, 2015

The VCS Birthday Party
Fresh Paint

Fundraiser Celebration
and Art Auction

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Quote of the Week
“It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits."
--Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority finding in favor of an industry-group challenge to the EPA's mercury emissions regulations
A wide chasm, indeed
The EPA estimate of the monetary benefit to public health of the regulations:
$37 - 90 billion.
Conservation Calendar

Lagoon Pond Ass'n Annual Meeting
Saturday, July 11, 9:00 to 11:30 am, Oak Bluffs
Anneal Meeting of the LPA will focus on health of the Lagoon, and feature a discussion with town officials about remediation efforts and sewers, zoning restrictions, boating, shellfish, and a bridge update. Free and open to the public. For more info, call (508) 693-4191.

Chappy Farmers' Market

Wednesdays, 4:30 to 5:30 pm, Chappy
Chappaquiddick's own market for local produce and crafts takes place every Wednesday afternoon on the Community Center porch.

Saturdays on Sengie
Saturdays, 9:30 to 10:30 am, Oak Bluffs
A free Felix Neck program that explores a different aspect of Sengekontacket Pond each week. From the birds above, to the creatures below the water's surface, this program includes hands-on activities for ages 4+. Sponsored by Friends of Sengekontacket. For more info, call (508) 627-4850 or see Felix Neck website.

West Tisbury Farmers' Market

Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9:00 to noon at the Grange Hall, West Tisbury.
Fresh picked produce from local farms, flowers, delicious baked goods and prepared foods from Island kitchens and more.
In Season Recipe
Beet and Walnut Salad

This fresh green salad is the perfect side for easy mid-summer dinners. Serve an almost-dinner-sized portion of the salad, pair with the simplest of entrees and a bit of bread (such as this popular combination) and the beets, nuts, cheese, and abundant greens will do the lion's share of creating a healthy and satisfying dinner.

(All measurements approximate and improvisational, scaled to 2 large salad portions)
  • Lots of greens, such as butter lettuce (1 large or 2 small heads) and/or arugula, baby kale, spinach, etc
  • 1 cup fresh local beets, steamed and chopped 
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup good local cheese (such as the feta at Mermaid Farm), or goat cheese, crumbled 
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • balsamic vinaigrette dressing


  • First, the beets: Steam beets 15 minutes, or just until a knife can be inserted easily, then peel. Smaller beets are easiest, or cut larger ones into small chunks.
  • Then, the walnuts: Heat butter and maple syrup in a small pan. Once melted and mixed, add walnuts and toss until well coated, toasting about 5 minutes.
  • Finally, assembly: Just toss everything together once the nuts are cool enough to not melt the cheese. Serve with a simple balsamic vinaigrette (as simple as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper will suffice).
Local News

The Next Half Century: From Sustaining to Thriving

The MV Ag Society opened their hall to VCS for a special 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting (Photo by Brendan O'Neill)

Many thanks to everyone who came out for a special 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Ag Hall. It was a great opportunity to catch up with VCS members, both long-time and new, and share a conversation about the big, sometimes intimidating, topics and issues that face our Island in the next half-century. What is the meaning of sustainability, and how can a conservation economy work here?

See the recap in the Vineyard Gazette for a nice overview of the meeting's themes. As co-presenter Marc Rosenbaum put it, we need to not only sustain what is good about the Vineyard, but we should always seek to improve -- to help the Island thrive through conservation-minded planning.
Lend a Hand: Local Bat Study Needs Your Help

Just added to the federal list of Endangered Species in 2015 (moving from Least Concern to Threatened), the Northern long-eared bat has suffered a rapid decline in the last decade following the appearance of white-nose syndrome. (Photo by Jon Reichard, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Once abundant throughout the Northeast, the Northern long-eared bat (NLEB) has declined in population by 90% since 2006 due to the spread of a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. In a role not new to Martha’s Vineyard, home to many threatened and declining species, it would seem the Island may serve as a refuge for this ecologically- and economically-important insect predator.
Local biologists from BiodiversityWorks are collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to understand why the Vineyard's NLEBs are surviving while others have died. They are studying maternity roosts (where female bats rear their young), migration, and overwintering behavior.
Your participation in the study could help with the recovery of this species. If you have bats in your attic, basement, barn or trees, or have just seen them flying overhead, please share your sightings by completing this online survey for BiodiversityWorks. You can learn more about the project at their website.
Art of Conservation Show Hits the Road

MV students brighten the walls of Mocha Mott's (Photo by Signe Benjamin, click for full size)

If you should find yourself on Circuit Avenue this July, make sure to pop into Mocha Mott's Oak Bluffs location to check out the winners from this year's VCS high school art contest, the Art of Conservation. Or, should you be one of us who endeavors to not venture down-Island until September 1st, you can view the art online without even leaving the house*. The 2015 first-place winners and special distinctions, presented with the artists' descriptions of their work:

Or, view all of the entries as a slideshow at the Art of Conservation page.

*But do get outside somewhere! It's beautiful out!

Other News

Supreme Court Ruling Presents New Challenge for Emissions Reduction Measures

Following a week of momentous Supreme Court decisions on several high-profile issues, the Court issued an important ruling that may have been somewhat overlooked in all the other excitement. The 5-4 decision found that the EPA did not adequately consider the costs to industry when regulating emissions through the Clean Air Act, a ruling that will have a significant effect on attempts to reduce power plant emissions both now and in years to come.  
By good fortune, the ruling may not have a large immediate impact. The Court’s decision was both narrowly-tailored to deal only with mercury emissions, and arrived too late to prevent many coal plants from installing the new scrubbers anyway. In practice, power plants did not suddenly begin belching larger amounts of mercury last week. A good summary of why it really is quite important, though – both the immediate known effects and the guesses and how it will affect future air pollution regulations – can be found at NPR.org.
A separate but perhaps larger concern is what this portends for future efforts of the Obama administration to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions. Balancing the cost to industry against public benefit would appear to be even more difficult in the case of carbon and climate change. The costs of mercury emissions on public health are relatively tangible – individuals made sick can be counted, their cost of treatment tabulated, even loss of life can be rather crassly monetized in service of a stronger legal argument. In comparison, the costs of climate change, while probably even larger in aggregate, are much more difficult to quantify (and still denied outright by some). In short, in a political climate where national carbon legislation will have to wait, the EPA’s efforts to curtail emissions just became a bit more difficult.
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) *2015* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.