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Quote of the Week
knowledge is limited apply a precautionary approach . . . Place the
burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not
cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for
--The Earth Charter
Ale hosts a Dine-to-Donate event for VCS tomorrow (March 23). Stop by
for lunch or dinner and help protect our Island environment while
enjoying good cheer with family and friends.
Tomorrow at Offshore Ale!
To participate, you must bring your own copy of the "Dine-to-Donate" ticket
to show to your server. You can either print it yourself or show it on
your phone, but Offshore's rules prohibit us from passing them out at
the event. The alehouse, located just off Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs, is
open for lunch from 11:30 to 4:00 and dinner from 5:00 to 8:30. For
more info, email VCS.
A Unique Winter Walk
final Winter Walk of the season was a snowy outing at the conservation
lands near Featherstone Center for the Arts. The family-friendly event
brought kids of all ages together to collect "found treasures" from
nature for use in the creation of tile mosaics, as guided by
Featherstone's Miss Lani.
(See the rest of the photos here)
Birds of Prey Visit the Library
Saturday, March 25, 10:30 am, West Tisbury
Thursday, March 30, 3:30 pm, Vineyard Haven
Learn about ospreys, owls, and birds of prey as Felix Neck brings an
exciting free nature program to two town libraries. For kids age 5-12,
for more info see library websites (West Tisbury, Vineyard Haven).
Save the Date:
The Earth Day Beach Clean-up
Saturday, April 22, Everywhere.
The 25th Anniversary VCS Earth Day Beach Clean-up will be held on April
22 (this year, the actual Earth Day!) across 25 of our Island's beaches.
Learn more about the history of this Vineyard tradition at the VCS website.
In Oak Bluffs, Bring Your Own Bag Initiative Gets Complicated
the Oak Bluffs School, students have been decorating reusable bags to
share with the community, and to help spread the BYOB message. (click
for the full image)
promised a year ago, this April 11th the citizens of Oak Bluffs finally
get their chance to vote on the Bring Your Own Bag bylaw, joining with
the other five towns in the BYOB spirit. Unfortunately, this is no fable
teaching the value of delayed gratification . . . unless you're a big
fan of parliamentary procedure and legal complexity. At this spring's
Town Meeting, O.B. voters will have to weigh the merits of two starkly
different plastic bag bylaws, each listed as separate warrant articles.
year's bylaw, created and sponsored by VCS and then adopted by the
other five Island towns, has now been submitted in Oak Bluffs via
citizens’ petition. In addition, a new bylaw created by a group of
businesses will also appear on the warrant. Procedurally, we don’t yet
know how the moderator will handle the confusion of two articles
addressing the same topic, so it is crucial that Oak Bluffs voters
understand the differences before they get to the Performing Arts Center
that night. There are many technical differences, but in short, where
the original bylaw effectively and fairly addresses the many problems caused by plastic bag pollution,
the article from the business owners proposes a complicated but
structurally weak bylaw that would result in: 1) many types of bags in
use made of many different compounds, requiring multiple costly and
confusing collection/disposal programs, 2) a minimal reduction in the
total number of plastic bags used, and 3) the potential for businesses
to avoid the bylaw altogether, indefinitely. For more details, please
see this flyer created by Oak Bluffs citizen Nina Carter Hitchen. Thanks, Nina!
We Don't Need to Use Herbicide to Maintain Power Lines
As reported in last week’s Vineyard Gazette,
electric utility Eversource has recently released this year’s plans for
maintenance of power lines, which includes the use of chemical
herbicides to control vegetation. There may be land management
situations in which responsible, targeted use of herbicides is
justified, but in this case we believe it is not truly necessary. For
example, simply compare and contrast the challenges presented by
controlling invasive species spread across miles of wilderness with the
clearing of a narrow right of way surrounded by occupied homes and
wetlands. In the latter, the precautionary principle (see “quote of the
week” at top left) should take precedence: that where there is a
suspected risk to the environment from a proposed action, but a lack of
scientific consensus regarding the risk, the burden of proof falls on
those who seek to take that action.
As such, we encourage everyone to sign (and share) this online petition,
which will be sent to the company’s senior arborist who is responsible
for making final decisions. Further, if you have the time, consider
submitting your own comments using the address at the bottom of the Gazette story.
That said, while we do support the general point of the petition –
insistence that Eversource use mechanical removal rather than herbicides
to control vegetation – we also must point out that the letter’s
emphasis on one particular product, the glyphosate formulation Round-Up,
reflects an unfortunate misunderstanding of the relative environmental
risks of herbicide use – both in Eversource’s current plans, and in
general. For starters, as reported by the Gazette, Eversource
says they use less glyphosate than any other chemical herbicide.
However, this comes as no comfort, because glyphosate is likely less
harmful than other herbicides.
It is well-established that Round-Up is toxic to aquatic organisms, but
this is due to its so-called “inert” ingredients, soap-like chemicals
that improve the herbicide’s effectiveness. The active ingredient
glyphosate, which Eversource plans to use in a formulation ("Rodeo")
that doesn't contain those toxic additives, is probably less worrisome
than the other herbicides they propose to use, such as metsulfuron-methyl, triclopyr, and imazapyr.
Further, glyphosate is definitely much less toxic than some herbicides,
such as paraquat and 2-4-D, which remain widely used in the United
States. Paraquat is restricted to licensed applicators (for good
reason!), while products containing 2-4-D adorn the shelves of most
anywhere you can buy a garden hose.
None of this is to say that glyphosate is harmless. Positive
affirmations that it is completely innocuous, usually coming from
developer Monsanto, were always to be taken with a huge grain of
chemical salt. Now, in light of recent revelations
that Monsanto has been interfering in the tiny portion of research they
don’t just conduct themselves, the blunt claims like “glyphosate is not
a carcinogen” evoke Orwellian satire. However, based on the research to
date, the overwhelming focus on glyphosate as a pollutant is
Today, we live in a world of
chemicals, yet a large portion of the most harmful pollution – whether
measured by quantity or the certainty of risk – still comes out of our
tailpipes and smokestacks. Even as we pull our weeds by hand,
we will continue to drive cars and consume electricity. It’s a
psychologically inconvenient fact, so it’s probably not good to think
too much about it all the time. But every now and then it’s worthwhile
to step back for a bit of perspective.