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Almanac Archive for June 23, 2014

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Quote of the Week
"On the Cape, people think wind turbines in Berkshire County is a great idea and out in the Berkshires where we go they think wind turbines on the Cape are a great idea"
--Governor Deval Patrick
The Art of Conservation

By Hadley Chapman
(MVRHS, 10th Grade)
First Place, Painting

See the other winning artworks and their creators' descriptions:
Photos of all of the entries can be found in this slideshow (after following the link, click the "slideshow" button in the upper left). Thanks to all who participated and helped make the first VCS high school art contest a rousing success!

For more on the contest, see this commentary in the Vineyard Gazette by VCS's own Samantha Look!

Conservation Calendar

Sandplains and Heathlands Workshop

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24-25, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, West Tisbury

Join Kristen Fauteux of Sheriff's Meadow and Julie Russell of the Land Bank for a two-day workshop discovering what makes the Vineyard’s sandplain grassland and coastal heathland communities so unique. One half day class at the Polly Hill Arboretum and a day and a half in the field exploring habitat. $90, $70 for PHA members, or $50 for professionals associated with Island land management or conservation organizations. Registration is required: call (508) 693-9426.

Vineyard Bats
Thursday, June 26, 6:00 pm, Oak Bluffs
BiodiversityWorks biologists Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin share insights about the Island's bats. At the Oak Bluffs Library, free. For more info call (508) 693-9433.

Shorebird Colony Tour

Saturday, June 28, 8:30 to 10:30 am, Katama
Join the Trustees of Reservations for a tour of active nesting sites. Meet at Norton Point Beach in Katama. $10 ($5 for members, $3 for children), pre-registration required. For more info see website or call (508) 693-7662.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Tuesday, July 1, 7:00 pm, Vineyard Haven

Many recent news stories have highlighted the finding that parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet are melting in an unstoppable way. Join UC Berkeley scientist Greg Balco for a discussion of what this "collapse" actually is, and how it fits into the broader context of Antarctica and ice sheet dynamics. At the Vineyard Haven Library.

The Farmers' Market is Back!

Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9:00 to noon, West Tisbury.
Fresh picked produce from local farms, flowers, delicious baked goods and prepared foods from Island kitchens and more. Outside of the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. For more info, see website.
In Season Recipe
Strawberry Parfait

This is so simple that to some it may not qualify as a "recipe." Regardless, it is both good eating and a great way to remind everyone that you can't go wrong by combining local yogurt and local strawberries.
  • Slice a pint of strawberries (or, since the local ones will probably be small, cut them into quarters)
  • Toss the berries with 1 tbsp of honey and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • In a clear glass (no scratches or smudges for maximum visual appeal!), alternate layers of berries and fresh Mermaid Farm yogurt
  • Top with a spoonful of granola if desired
There are limitless variations on the basic concept. See, for example, this version with fresh herbs instead of cinnamon.
Monday, June 23, 2014
VCS Annual Meeting this Wednesday! 
What You can do to Protect Biodiversity

The 49th annual meeting of the VCS Board and Membership will take place this Wednesday, June 25, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Wakeman Center. Please join us for this important event and reconnect with fellow conservationists while keeping up with the activities of your local environmental advocacy group. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to all.
The Wakeman Conservation Center is located on Helen Ave., one mile up from the Vineyard Haven end of Lambert’s Cove Road; see sign on left. For more information, call the VCS office at (508) 693-9588.

The business portion of the meeting will be followed by our speaker, wildlife and conservation biologist Luanne Johnson:
The Power of One:
Preserving the Vineyard’s Natural Heritage
Saltmarsh sparrow (photo by Lanny McDowell)

Preserving the Island's biological diversity and our natural heritage for future generations will require more than just preserving and maintaining tracts of conservation land and other open space. As we continue to develop land for new homes it is imperative that each of us understand how our actions and behaviors on the landscape influence the abundance, distribution, and diversity of wildlife around us. In this spirit, Luanne will discuss actions homeowners, landowners and individuals can take to create a positive ripple effect for wildlife in their neighborhood, school or town. 
Local News

Offshore Wind Energy Promoted to the Big Leagues

The Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm, a 317 MW capacity project off the east coast of England
*** Tonight, 5:00 pm ***
Public meeting on wind leases
Katharine Cornell Theatre, VH

Federal and state officials last week announced the opening of a vast new area to wind energy leases. As stated by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the 742,000-acre area starting about 12 miles off the southern shore of the Vineyard (map here) would be “the largest wind-energy area on the Atlantic Coast. . . . it will literally double the federal offshore acreage available for commercial scale wind energy projects.”
Clean energy projects are often dismissed by opponents as feel-good gestures that are irrelevant at the scale of commercial and municipal electricity needs. There are environmental downsides to offshore wind, but the fundamental criticism – it won’t do much good anyway – that animates the focus on the downsides? That one clearly does not apply in this case. This is a serious infrastructure project, on a scale comparable to traditional energy sources. Some numbers:

5,000 MW (megawatts): This offshore wind project, highest estimate and fully developed, a scenario deemed “unlikely” by officials
170 MW: Cape Wind, proposed wind farm northeast of the Vineyard, estimated to produce 75% of the electricity demand for the Cape and Islands combined
630 MW: the London Array (UK), the largest offshore wind farm in the world
781 MW: Roscoe Wind Farm (USA), the largest onshore wind farm in the world

547 MW: the average capacity of the 572 operational coal plants in the USA. A 500 MW plant burns 1.4 million tons of coal a year, equivalent to about 4 million tons of CO2. The average coal plant also releases enormous amounts of noxious sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, 14,100 tons and 10,300 tons respectively (or 7,000 tons and 3,300 tons when emissions reducing technologies are fully employed).

690 MW: Pilgrim nuclear plant, Plymouth MA (though it frequently operates at much lower capacity)
502 MW: Fort Calhoun, the smallest US nuclear plant
3,937 MW: Palo Verde, the largest US nuclear plant

2,080 MW: Hoover Dam (USA)
18,200 MW: Three Gorges Dam (China), perhaps the most impressive energy generation project in history, massively successful in reducing emissions, but also resulting in enormous environmental degradation.

As best exemplified by the Three Gorges Dam, there are no perfect solutions to feeding an ever-increasing appetite for electricity. In addition to technology, energy efficiency and a broader conservation ethic must also contribute by slowing the growth of this demand, all while allowing a growing population to raise its standard of living.
Safety Concerns at Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Hit Home

Public concern over environmental and safety issues regarding the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Plymouth, Mass has increased in recent years. Activists opposed to the plant have been joined by State Senator Dan Wolf, who has openly come out in favor of shutting the plant down; Governor Deval Patrick has also expressed serious concerns.
Safety concerns range from those endemic to all nuclear plants: the inability to move spent fuel rods off-site to a permanent, safer location; those both specific to Pilgrim and indisputable: the lack of a reasonable evacuation plan in the event of disaster for those on the Cape and Islands; and those Pilgrim-specific, yet contentious: the repeated downgrading of the plant’s official safety rating, and its similarity in design to the failed reactors at Fukushima.  
There will be a panel discussion and Q&A on the subject Monday, June 30th from 7 to 9 pm at the Katharine Cornell Theater. Sponsored by 350MVI, the Gay Head Gallery and the Martha's Vineyard Democratic Council, the event will feature State Senator Dan Wolf, Diane Turco of Cape Downwinders, Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch, and Karen Vale of Cape Cod Bay Watch.
Film Screening: Divide in Concord

Wednesday, July 2, VCS and the MV Film Festival co-present Divide in Concord, the story of 84-year-old activist Jean Hill's efforts to ban single-use water bottles in her town. The feature-length documentary follows her battles with both local merchants and the big businesses of bottled water, and explores the broader questions of personal freedom and environmental regulation, all painting upon a revolutionary backdrop. For the trailer and more, see film website. For tickets to the 7:00 dinner and movie, see MVFF website.
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Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.