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Almanac Archive for March 7, 2016

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Quote of the Week
"There is simply zero justification for manufacturing (plastic bags) anymore, anywhere."
--Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme
Calendar: Plastic Bags

Oak Bluffs Selectmen Hearing
Tuesday, March 8, 4:30 pm.
Following up on our public info session in Oak Bluffs last month, town Selectmen have scheduled a public hearing to take comments related to the proposed single-use plastic bag bylaw. We expect significant opposition at this meeting, so if you would like to see an end to disposable plastic bags in Oak Bluffs, now is the time to come out to support the cause. The hearing will be at the Oak Bluffs Library, in the downstairs meeting room. 

Info Sessions
Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 to 7:00 pm, Chilmark; also March 30, Edgartown.
With support from Selectmen, Boards of Health, and Conservation Commissions in each Island town, VCS has put an article on the 2016 Town Meeting warrants proposing an Island-wide ban of single-use plastic checkout bags. Please come hear more about why VCS believes this is an important action for our community to take, learn how it would affect you, and voice your questions or concerns. The March 9 session will be at 6:00 pm at the Chilmark Library. We have also tentatively scheduled a session at the Edgartown Library on March 30 at 6:00 pm.
Conservation Calendar

Blue Economy Roundtable
Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 to 8:30 pm, VH.
The MV Donors Collaborative hosts a roundtable discussion about fostering a Blue Economy initiative on the Vineyard. There will be presentations by leaders of similar initiatives on Cape Cod, followed by a brainstorming session. At the Tisbury Senior Center, space is limited so RSVP via email or call (508) 645-3690. See press release for more info.

Winter at Polly Hill Arboretum

Saturday, March 12, 10:00 am, West Tisbury.
Join Polly Hill staff to explore the Arboretum grounds in the off-season. Winter is when bark patterns and architectural structure become evident as deciduous trees lose their leaves, the conifers stand out with their many textures and shades of green, and even some fruits and flowers appear. Tours run for a little over an hour. Meet at the Visitor Center and dress for the weather. Free. More info at website or call (508) 693-9426.

Seed Starting Workshop

Saturday, March 19, 9:30 to 11:30 am, Katama.
Learn how to start your own seeds and plan your garden for the coming season, and each participant will take home four six packs of seedlings. Activities include: planning the garden, choosing varieties, creating a seed plan (& how to plan for seed saving), transplanting and hardening off, and companion planting and crop rotation. At the FARM Institute, $10, registration required, email or call (508) 627-7007.

Sassafras Youth Programs

Saturdays, March 12, 19, 26, and April 2, Aquinnah.
Mixing up the Sassafras standard curriculum with the happenings of late winter through early spring. Learn about poison ivy and ticks and wander the land and beach, check out pools and streams, see the first catkins and wild flowers and watch returning flocks of birds. From 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, $38 per session, more pricing info at website, or call (508) 645-2008
Local News

Walk the Native Earth
Don't miss it, ma-a-a-a-a-an

Join us Sunday, March 13 at 1:00 for our final Winter Walk of the season: a family-friendly visit to Native Earth Teaching Farm in Chilmark. The farm, relatively unpublicized but beloved by many, is a priceless educational resource involving children and teachers in a range of programs sharing the knowledge and spirit of sustainable agriculture. It is home to organic farm fields, community garden plots, and rare and heritage animal breeds, all surrounded by woodlands and wetlands. The land is part of the headwaters for two Island watersheds, and includes the historic George Fred Tilton homestead. 

Directions: The farm is 4 1/2 miles up North Road from the triangle in North Tisbury (the intersection with State Road). Watch for the round blue sign on the left – if you reach Tea Lane, you've gone too far. Dress for the weather and be prepared for a lot of mud thanks to this week's warm-up. Please leave your dogs at home well-behaved dogs, even those attached to a leash or kept in the car can still frighten the animals!

The walk is part of the VCS 50th anniversary celebration focusing on landmark land conservation successes. A little over ten years ago, VCS worked with Rebecca Gilbert and Randy Ben David to bring conservation protection to the 34-acre property, resulting in a 2005 conservation restriction held by Sheriff's Meadow.

Art Contest Winners Announced

The winners of our third annual high school art competition, The Art of Conservation, have been announced. This year’s contest asked students to express their thoughts on a subject that has been a prime focus for VCS this winter: waste. Three first place prizes were awarded to Jamilyn Joseph, Lucy Thompson, and Astrid Tilton. Six others, Monica Carroll, Isabel Crawford, Gus Hoy, Maisie Jarrell, Adelaide Keene, and Angela Mello received special distinctions for their work.
On Saturday, March 19 we will hold a short ceremony at the Chilmark School (during the MV Film Festival) to honor the winners and participants. It will begin promptly at 5:30 and be followed by the film Landfill Harmonic (ticket info at TMVFF). If you arrive early, head across the field to the Chilmark Library where the winning artwork will be on display from that afternoon through Sunday the 20th.

One of this year’s winners was Astrid Tilton, who is playing a leading role in the VCS effort to eliminate single-use plastic bags on our Island. Take a sneak peek at her photo triptych right now!
Island Pushes Back Against Washington Plastic Bag Lobby

It took several months, but the Washington lobbyists for the plastic bag industry finally weighed in on our effort to eliminate single-use plastic bags. With much of the VCS office on vacation during the school break, we were a little concerned when we came home to find a letter to the editor from the American Progressive* Bag Alliance – but the response from bag ban supporters was overwhelmingly positive.
Many thanks to the efforts of folks on the bag ban working group, and especially to those two community members who independently sent their own letters in response:
* Progressive, apparently, because while they vigorously defend the right to bear plastic, they do think it would be nice if it were easier to recycle it.

Other News

New Report Outlines Threats to Pollinators

Honeybees are the world’s best-known pollinators – and perhaps deservedly so, with their fascinating social biology and highly-visible importance to large-scale agriculture. Throughout the growing season, entire trucks loaded with hives travel from south to north, with bees blazing a trail that will be followed a few months later by migrating humans. However, outside of those carefully orchestrated systematic pollinations, it is a collection of thousands of native species, including not just other insects but birds and bats as well, that do much of the work – pollinating smaller farms, gardens, and the ecosystems of the natural world.  
Unfortunately, just as the well-known honeybee is facing the well-known (if not well-understood) threat of Colony Collapse Disorder, that diverse set of pollinator species faces a diverse set of threats, according to a new synthesis report from a United Nations-affiliated science team. The report discusses the impact of factors such as habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, parasites, and pathogens, and provides suggestions for practices that could better protect pollinators.
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) 2016 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.