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Almanac Archive for June 11, 2018

   The Conservation Almanac
             Environmental news from the Vineyard Conservation Society
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Quote of the Week
"Everyone needs to play a part. You can make a difference today – and every day – by doing simple things like carrying your own water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags, recycling the plastic you buy, avoiding products that contain microplastics and volunteering for a local clean-up."
— U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres

The Art of Conservation

The boardwalk at Black Point was inspiration for this First Prize winner by Olivia Schroeder (10th grade, MVRHS) in the 2018 Art of Conservation contest. Other winners this year included Jonathan Chivers, Owen Metell, Felix Colon, Simone Davis, Jeneleigh Griffin, Jenna Joseph, Julianne Joseph, Hemilly Nascimento, Aidan Nunes, Davin Tackabury, Frank Cray, and Josue Dos Santos.
See more of the work of our Island's talented young artists at the VCS website

Conservation Calendar
Haute Trash Workshop
Thursday, June 14, 5:30 to 7:00 pm, Oak Bluffs.
A workshop at the O.B. Library building toward a Haute Trash Fashion Show. Bring your list of recycled materials and design ideas to the upstairs conference room for feedback and encouragement. For more info, call (508) 693-9433.
Iconic Trees of Polly Hill Arboretum

Thursday, June 21, 5:30
— 6:30 pm, West Tisbury.
Join PHA staff for four special tours throughout the season as they share the incredible stories behind some of the most emblematic and special trees found at the arboretum, from the ancient Dawn Redwood (pictured) to the remarkable Julian Hill Magnolia. Tours are free with admission ($5, free for members), for more info see website.
Tracking Shorebirds
Saturday, June 23, 9:00 to 10:00 am, State Beach.
Walk the beach with a Felix Neck shorebird biologist to record field data, search for birds and nests, and identify bird and mammal tracks in the sand. Meet at the State Beach access trail on the Oak Bluffs side of Big Bridge. All ages, free, for more info call (508) 627-4850.
The Farmer's Market
Saturdays, 9:00 am
— noon, West Tisbury.
The Farmer's Market is back! Fresh-picked produce from local farms, flowers, delicious baked goods and prepared foods from Island kitchens and more. Outside the Grange Hall near Alley's. More info at website.
Local News
Annual Meeting of the Membership & Board of the Vineyard Conservation Society

Please join us Tuesday, June 19 at the West Tisbury Library for the Annual Meeting of the VCS Membership & Board of Directors. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm with refreshments on the lawn to the right of the main entrance, then we will move inside for the business portion at about 5:45.

Our special guest this year will be Sea Education Association (SEA) research assistant Jessica Donahue. Drawing on SEA's 30 years of data on marine plastic debris (the largest such dataset regarding the North Atlantic in the world), Jessica will discuss the global problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment, in particular the microplastics floating on the surface. Topics covered will include where microplastics accumulate, what the sources and inputs are, and how data are collected. Her talk will focus on the unanswered questions, common misconceptions, and possible solutions – including local initiatives to reduce our plastic footprint.
If you are not already a VCS Member, please join today!
Jessica Donohue holds a B.S. in environmental geology from Binghamton University, a M.S. from the University of Rhode Island in environmental science/hydrogeology and has a background in science education outreach. Her current research focuses on how various polymers behave and degrade in the marine environment, and variability in the composition of microplastics in time and by region.
Principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt and 7th-grader Mya O'Neill demonstrate the West Tisbury School's new water bottle refill station, part of a VCS initiative to reduce our local contribution to the global problem of ocean pollution.

One Global Ocean, Many Local Issues

Hope springs eternal in Jakarta, Indonesia. Image from the "Week in Plastic", a grim parody by the Guardian of their own "Week in Wildlife" photo essays. Photo by Ed Wray. 
All of the world’s marine waters are inter-connected, forming one global ocean that provides the majority of the oxygen breathed by all animals living on Earth – including us. Being surrounded by the ocean, the people of Martha’s Vineyard already appreciate its importance, but there is always more to learn about how it works.
Last Wednesday at Edgartown’s Harbor View Hotel, a broad collection of scientists and state and local officials gathered with a very good public turnout (at times standing room only) for the 3rd Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Conference. Unsurprisingly, there was a heavy emphasis on climate change, sea level rise, and coastal adaption measures, but the presentations and discussions ran the full gamut of local coastal issues and projects, including nitrogen pollution, offshore wind energy, aquaculture, fisheries, and even a study of the natural movement of unexploded ordinance. We expect to receive online versions of many of the presentations to share with our readers in coming weeks.  
VCS was honored to be invited to join in the concluding panel discussion, moderated by Oak Bluffs Conservation Agent Liz Durkee. Drawing on a truly wide-reaching conference, some of the chief takeaway messages were: 1) the impacts of climate change are already being felt here, and will rapidly increase over the next few decades, 2) the Vineyard’s identity as a coastal community featuring unspoiled, naturally migrating beaches will face a massive challenge, as private landowners seek to protect their own interests in the face of erosion, and 3) the future may bring more powerful hurricanes, but they would actually only need to be as strong as those that have occurred in the past to cause catastrophic damage today. (In the modern era, only Hurricane Bob rivals the storms of past centuries; in fact, the most powerful storm since Western contact with New England occurred in 1635, when a category 3 hurricane drove a 20 foot storm surge into Buzzards Bay)
Returning now to the global perspective, this year’s World Oceans Day featured a focus issue that would certainly be familiar to VCS supporters: plastic pollution. Though much work remains to be done, on our Island we have already begun taking real steps to reduce our contribution to this ocean menace, including the plastic bag ban, the installation of water bottle refill stations to reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles, and student-led advocacy to stop the release of balloons and discourage plastic drinking straws.
Unfortunately, the United States government cannot yet be said to be on board with plastic waste reduction, as the USA just refused to join with other advanced economies in endorsing the Ocean Plastics Charter at the recent G7 meetings in Canada. Fortunately, though, we live in a democracy with many levels of distributed power. Through individual actions to reduce plastic waste, and by encouraging our local and state governments to better manage it, we will continue to make a real difference for our ocean’s future.  
The Vineyard Conservation Society is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water.
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Copyright (C) 2018 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.
Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.