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Almanac Archive for June 25, 2012

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Annual Meeting 2012
Nurture the Natives with VCS
Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. Photo by Kris Henricksen, click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 26, 5:00 pm at the Wakeman Center.
Join us for our 47th Annual Meeting of the Board and Membership. This year's meeting features a presentation by landscape designer and native plant specialist Kristin Henriksen. Kris will address lawn and landscape care that nurtures native plant species and protects natural resources like our coastal ponds. All are welcome. FREE. For more information, see our events page.
Quote of the Week
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
-- Henry David Thoreau, as quoted in a recent conversation with Willam Moomaw, in regard to the Moomaw's approach to conservation and life.

Conservation Calendar

The Tree Tour
Tuesday, June 26, 10:00 am to noon.
Join collections and grounds manager Tom Clark for this informative and fun walking tour of the many glorious mature trees of Edgartown. In the midst of the mantle of green that envelops downtown Edgartown, the hydrangeas and picket fences, many unique and fine specimen trees await discovery. Expect the famous Pagoda Tree and so much more. Call 508-693-9426 to pre-register and for carpool and meeting location. $20, or $10 for PHA members.

Toddler Time
Wednesdays, 10:00 am to noon, Native Earth Teaching Farm, Chilmark.
Wednesday mornings at Native Earth are Toddler Time, where toddlers and their adults can meet and play in a fun and unfettered environment. For more info call 508-645-3304 or see website.

The Essential Herbal
Wednesday, June 27, 5:30 pm, at the Chilmark Library.
From tinctures to ease tummy aches to elixirs to enhance energy, making your own remedies from easy-to-find herbs can be a satisfying and pleasurable way to connect with nature and your family's health. Join herbalist Holly Bellebuono for a discussion of her new book (pictured above). Free. Please call 508-645-3360 for more information.

Flounder Stock Enhancement 
Thursday, June 28, 5:00 pm, at the Chilmark Library.
Aquaculture experts Dr. Elizabeth Fairchild, Brett Stearns, and Warren Doty will provide an update on the flounder stock enhancement program. The New England winter flounder population has declined 91% in the past 20 years. Dr. Fairchild's research is looking at reasons for the decline and possible programs for restoration. Free. Please call 508-645-3360 for more information.

The Farmer's Market is Back!

Saturday, Jun 30, 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. After this Saturday, the market is open both Wednesdays and Saturdays through August (Sat. only afterward).

FARM Institute Summer Programs
Starting June 25

Reserve your space now for the seventh year of summer programs at Katama Farm. Programs for kids of all ages, 2 - 17. Sign up online or call 508-627-7007.

Seashore Discovery
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:00 to 11:30 am, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown.
Meet amazing creatures of the sea including crabs, whelks and scallops! Take a short walk through the forest to a protected beach,where you will explore shallow waters with dip nets and use a large seine net. Wear clothes and shoes that can get wet, and don't forget your hat, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent. All ages, $9 ($6 for Mass Audubon members). For more info, call (508) 627-4850 or see website.

Guided Birding Tours
Saturdays, 9:00 to 11:30 am, 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 at 9:00. Cost is $30 per adult, $15 for under 18. For more details, call 508-693-4908.

In Season Recipe

Fresh from the Vineyard:
Fish (or Quahog) Chowder

This week we return to Ginny Jones' cookbook, Fresh from the Vineyard, for an Island staple, New England-style chowder. Pick up some fresh milk from Mermaid Farm or the Grey Barn and a white, firm (but not oily) fish from your local fish market, and enjoy making your own version of this classic, all-purpose dish.

Fresh from the Vineyard, by Virginia Jones, features recipes that take advantage of our bounty of local produce, meats, and seafood. You can find the book at many Island stores and farms, including Bunch of Grapes, Cronig's, Larsen's Fish Market, Allen Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Mermaid Farm, Nip N' Tuck Farm, and Fiddlehead Farm Stand. Proceeds from sales of the book will benefit both VCS and the Island Grown Initiative.
Monday, June 25, 2012

Calling on Members, Longstanding and New

The annual VCS membership renewal drive is not over yet! Please help us meet our membership goal for the next fiscal year by renewing today!
And if you’re not yet a member, there’s no better time to join! Back in stock after a year's absence, new members can choose to receive a free copy of Edible Wild Plants of Martha's Vineyard by Linsey Lee. This beautifully illustrated guide to our wild bounty of edible plants includes descriptions of plants and their habitats, with fascinating information about traditional medicinal and folklore uses.

Membership at VCS also brings our print newsletter, Vineyard Conservation to your mailbox twice a year. If you’d like a preview, past issues are viewable at our website, or come by our office at the Wakeman Center to pick up a copy.

Thank You for Your Support!

Local News

Climate Change Awareness:
Developing an Island Understanding

Willam and Margot Moomaw speak on climate change and green living at The Grange on July 9.

For the last several years, VCS has made climate change awareness and education an organizational priority. This summer, we are proud to host renowned environmentalists William and Margot Moomaw for a very special presentation. The Moomaws will offer insight into both the global context of one of the most pressing issues of our time and the possibilities and benefits of taking action locally to live deliberately and live better. Please join us on Monday, July 9 at 5:00 pm at the Grange Hall for this free event. The Moomaws are hoping for an interactive, community forum style of presentation, so bring questions and speak up!

William Moomaw is Professor of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University, and the founding Director of the Tufts Climate Initiative. He has authored work for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Margot Moomaw is a graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health and has worked in the healthcare field for more than twenty-five years. She is now a green design consultant, offering expertise on actions homeowners can take to live better, more sustainable lives.

Another Assault on Island Oaks: The Gall!

The common "oak apples" are the result of a gall wasp. (Photo by James Solomon, USDA Forest Service)

As if our oak trees didn’t have enough already to worry about: Following the wave of caterpillar booms that caused massive defoliation in recent years (especially Up-Island), a new insect pest has recently arrived to further aggrieve one oak species. The gall wasp Bassettia ceropteroides selectively attacks black oaks, and has begun to cause significant damage to Island trees. The outbreak is particularly worrisome because of the wasp’s role in the decline in black oaks on Long Island in the 1990s. From Tim Bolland, Executive Director of the Polly Hill Arboretum:

“The similarities of the MV tree canopy and Long Island are close in terms of natural tree composition and soil conditions. It appears to favor stressed trees, often impacted by drought, creating a predisposition to attack. It is also accompanied by a fungus as a secondary pathological problem.”

At the risk of being accused of sympathizing with the enemy, it is hard not to marvel at the ingenuity of these tree parasites. Female gall wasps lay their eggs inside the tree, whereupon hatching the larvae takes control of the tree’s growth, turning its resources to the growing wasp’s benefit. The tree builds a hard shell around the wasp, which not only protects it from predators (though not all predators: other equally dastardly wasps have adaptations just for piercing galls and injecting their own eggs into the bodies of the gall wasp larvae living inside), but also serves as the food source for the growing larvae.
Further, the diversity is amazing. There appears to be at least one wasp species to parasitize nearly every species of oak, and most of their body parts as well, with different specialists for leaves, stems, buds, and roots, all creating distinct galls.

More Frequent Flooding a Serious Concern

There is no doubt that increased flooding represents one of the most significant local impacts of global climate change, at least as measured by costs and threats to the human population. As Liz Durkee makes clear in the third installment of her series on climate change (originally published in the Vineyard Gazette), it is wise, in the face of rising waters, to be mindful of the power of nature:

“Flooding is not a natural disaster. It is a natural event that becomes a disaster for people and other obstacles in its path – the floodplain.”
State News

Falmouth Proposes Solomon-esque Compromise

Small-scale wind turbines for private electricity production are gaining in popularity, and for good reason. Windmills on residential and agricultural land offer a source of clean, renewable energy and substantial cost savings, especially as carbon-based energy prices rise in the future. Further, in a world where most actions to combat climate change involve national and international politics, for which the odds of affecting change can at times seem dismayingly long, it is something individuals can do (along with efficiency improvements and conservation) to lower their personal carbon footprint.
However, a recent proposal in Falmouth would mandate that this be the only form of wind power allowed in town, which seems misguided. Under the new bylaw, turbines would be limited by their power output, not to exceed 200 kilowatts. Rather than focus on the noise, or visual impact (i.e. height) of turbines, things that are actual downsides to wind power, by directly limiting the power output this measure penalizes more efficient production of clean energy. Isn’t that the whole point of a wind turbine in the first place? And on the other hand, a big, loud, and ugly windmill would be acceptable, so long as it doesn't actually generate much electricity?
Another condition of the proposed bylaw, much the same spirit, is that the primary purpose of a turbine must be to provide power for the property on which it sits, not to sell to the general grid. It’s nice to imagine a little windmill for every home in America providing total energy self-reliance; further, this approach might even work in rural communities (like our Up-Island towns and Chappy). However, it’s unrealistic even at the modest population density of Falmouth, and an obviously unworkable approach to solving the global energy crisis, in light of the fact that the vast majority of electricity is consumed by heavy industry and in cities. That would take one large windmill atop a 500-unit Bronx apartment building!
You don’t have to take a position for or against wind power in general to know when a certain proposed compromise is nonsensical. If Falmouth residents don’t want to look at (or hear) large turbines, then ban wind altogether and institute significant conservation and efficiency programs. Further, install photovoltaic panels on the roof of every municipal building in town, and offer incentives to homeowners to do the same. That would do more to reduce energy usage than a sprinkling of quaint little windmills.
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) *2012* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.