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Quote of the Week
“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.”
--President Jimmy Carter
Documentary Film on Genetically Modified Organisms
Wednesday, March 12 at 5:30 pm, Chilmark.
"Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives" showing at the Chilmark
Library. Presented by Slow Food M.V. For more info, call (508) 645-3360.
Film and Panel Discussion:
Saturday, March 15 at noon, Chilmark
What will a rising sea do to our homes and the survival of our
community? Can we afford to pile enough sand on our shores to keep the
ocean at bay? Join Director Ben Kalina, Prof. Ben Horton of Penn, and
Richard Houghton, President of Woods Hole Research Center for a
discussion after the film. Co-sponsored by VCS, the screening is part of
The MV Film Festival at the Chilmark Community Center this weekend (tickets and info
Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods
Thursday, March 20, 6:30 pm, Oak Bluffs Library
Horseshoe crabs have found themselves in high demand, traditionally as
bait fish but now also from the pharmaceutical and medical device
industry. But this ancient creature, at once familiar and somehow
obscure, is an important part of our natural world as well. Join Susie
Bowman and Fred Hotchkiss for a slideshow and discussion of these
fascinating animals. Free. Also Tues the 25th at 7:00 pm, V.H. Library. (Image: embroidered mola from Panama, courtesy John Pearse)
Walk at Squibnocket Point
Sunday, March 23, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Chilmark.
Join The Trustees of Reservations for a guided hike at one of their
conservation-restricted properties near Squibnocket Beach. $10 (free for
members), reservations are required. Call (508) 693-7662 to register
and for more info.
Seaside Saturdays at Long Point
Saturdays, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, West Tisbury.
Each Saturday the Long Point Visitor Center opens their doors for a
variety of free self-guided educational programs for kids and families. A
TTOR educator will be available to answer questions and help your
family get started. See flyer
for details, or email
for more info on the program.
In Season Recipe
Arctic Char with Spinach Butter
Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland specializes in
creative and farm-fresh recipes that may seem novel to modern Americans.
But they are in fact very traditional
Irish dishes, from a time before fast food and the homogenization of the food marketplace. Check out the N.Y. Times for the story
. (Thanks to Ginny Jones for fishing out this recipe)
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- 1 Arctic char, about 2 pounds, cleaned and left whole
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, plus a few sprigs for inside the fish
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 6 chilled tablespoons for sauce
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon finely sliced chives
- 1 pound boiled new potatoes, for serving (optional)
For preparation, see the N.Y. Times recipe
|Monday, March 10, 2014
Kids and Crafts at West Chop
An enthusiasm for nature can almost always be found, if you know where to look (Photo by Signe Benjamin; click for slideshow).
For our last Winter Walk of the season, about 30 kids (and kids at
heart) joined us at Sense of Wonder Creations, where Director Pam
Benjamin helped turn the flotsam and jetsam of the West Chop beaches
into found art and engaging experiences for all.
Thanks to the VCS members, board, and staff, our partner organizations
and volunteers, and the scores of attendees who have helped make this
year’s Living at Sea Level series of walks a success. After a winter of
walking at sea level, why not take a short rest before the Earth Day
Beach Clean-Up on April 19 – and in the meantime, Join VCS! Member support makes all of these events possible.
The Stop & Shop Expansion and Climate Change
In their recent letter to the editor, Mas Kimbal and Chris Riger of the local climate advocacy group 350 MVI
refocus the attention on the proposed expansion of the Vineyard Haven
Stop & Shop store toward the impacts of climate change. Echoing VCS testimony
to the Martha's Vineyard Commission in January, their letter points
both to the impacts of the project on carbon emissions and to the issues
that arise from undertaking major developments directly in the face of
rising sea levels.
Thank you, Mas and Chris, and 350 MVI, for helping spread the word about climate change impacts on our island.
proposed store would be located at the approximate site of the existing
Stop & Shop, near the center of this map. Sea level rise is an
important issue in regard to any proposal here: areas in yellow are
below 3.3 ft of elevation, areas in red below 6.6 ft. Click map to
enlarge (caution: it is very large). Thanks to Chris Seidel and Phil
Henderson for the image.
Time to Protect the Protectors
A well-established strategy to
reduce nutrient pollution in our estuaries is the addition of more
shellfish. What if we also added more estuaries?
Ambitious in scale, yet incredibly simple in concept, a new strategy for controlling eutrophication (pollution by excessive nutrients, principally nitrogen and phosphorus) of coastal waters has taken hold in Sweden: construction of artificial wetlands
to absorb and hold runoff before it reaches the shore. In recent
decades, wetland construction has sought to reverse centuries of their
intentional elimination through land reclamation projects. And it
appears to be working, perhaps better than expected. A recent study
demonstrated that in addition to being generally effective for their
intended purpose of reducing nutrient pollution, constructed wetlands
have also improved biodiversity to the point that several species are no
longer threatened with local extinction.
The boost to biodiversity is surprising, at least to the extent that it
is occurring within the engineered wetlands themselves (and not through
rejuvenation of existing natural estuaries). An artificial wetland would
not seem to be prime habitat: there is no preexisting biota, so all the
plants, animals, and microbes need to colonize (or be introduced) and
establish their ecological ties from scratch; worse, invasive species
could be expected to dominate, as an affinity for disturbed habitats is
one of their hallmark traits. Finally, if you build a new wetland
between the source of the nutrient runoff and the presently polluted
natural body of water, won’t it quickly become eutrophic itself?
And that is perhaps what is most peculiar, yet ingeniously simple about
this plan. In many cases these constructed wetlands may be destined to
be sacrificial estuaries – created for the purpose of taking on the
damage that would have otherwise gone to a natural body, and always
expected to be poor quality wetlands in their own right.
On some level, this is the nature of estuaries, or at least the human
interaction with them: Situated at the margin of land and sea, in a
state of nature they support a resilient ecosystem that thrives under
constantly changing temperature, salinity, and nutrient availability.
But in a state of human development and pollution, the estuaries serve
to buffer both land and sea from our impacts. Runoff from the land –
excessive nutrients, but also toxic pollutants – is filtered out,
leaving cleaner water. From the other direction, wetlands provide a
crucial brake on the energy of storm surges, increasingly important as
sea level and storm frequency rises. That is an indisputably valuable
“ecosystem service” (to borrow a term from the recent movement to
monetize nature), but considering that many estuaries are critical
habitat in their own right, the time has come to protect the protectors.