|Visit our Website
Support Vineyard Conservation
Find us on Facebook
Quote of the Week
. . . we have long recognized that "charity" may constitute more than "mere alms giving."
. . . by holding land in its natural pristine condition and thereby
protecting wildlife habitats, filtering the air and water supply, and
absorbing carbon emissions, combined with engaging in sustainable
harvests to ensure the longevity of the forest, NEFF engages in
charitable activities of a type that may benefit the general public.
--New England Forestry Foundation vs. Town of Hawley, ruling of the MA Supreme Judicial Court
Plants, People, and Opportunities
Wednesday, May 21, 10:00 am to noon, West Tisbury.
Hear about volunteer opportunities at the Polly Hill Arboretum with
executive director Tim Boland and other staff. Participants will tour
the plant collections, review Arboretum history, and learn what goes on
behind the scenes at PHA. Free and open to all. Call to register, (508)
Saturday, May 24, 9:30 to 11:00 am, Chilmark
Take a hike with Sheriff's Meadow Foundation through their Middle Road
Sanctuary in Chilmark. Free, no reservation required. Bring water and
appropriate footwear. For more info, call (508) 693-5207.
Kids' Planting Events
Saturday, May 24
Oak Bluffs Library, 11:00 am
Celebrate spring by planting seeds in the Children's Room. Ages 2+ with adult, call (508) 693-5377 for more info.
Aquinnah Library, noon
Come plant the Pizza Garden, a container garden that will yield the
ingredients for an August pizza party. Call (508) 645-2413 for more
Wild Edibles: Plants and Mushrooms of the Vineyard
Saturday and Sunday, May 24 - 25.
Felix Neck hosts author and expert forager Russ Cohen for a weekend of
programs on how to identify, prepare, and sustainably harvest wild
edibles. Lecture Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the MV Reg. High
School, followed by a "ramble" at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on
Sunday afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00. Cost is $10 for the lecture and $35
for the field trip ($5 and $25, respectively, for members), registration is required
Nature's Nest: Sassafras Program for the Little Ones
Fridays, 10:00 am to noon, Aquinnah.
Nature program for newborns through 5 years old, accompanied by parent.
Donation by choice. To RSVP, and for more info and directions call (508)
Saturdays, 9:30 to 11:00 am, Katama.
Visit the animals and help plant the Friendship Garden at the FARM
Institute. For ages 2-5, must be accompanied by adult. $15 per session.
For more info, see website
or call (508) 627-7007.
In Season Recipe
Needs some color . . . how about GREEN!
One of the earliest harvests of the season comes from the perennial
herbs that are just waking up from the winter. Fresh growth of mint,
sage, thyme, chives and oregano is sprouting up from the soil and
available at farm stands across the island
. Island Grown Schools, our local Farm-to-School program, has named these perennial herbs as their Harvest of the Month for May.
Any of these herbs will work in their simple fresh recipe for herbed orzo
from chef Robin Ledoux-Forte. Try substituting quinoa for a gluten-free
alternative: test audiences (students at the Edgartown School) found it
|Monday, May 19, 2014
Art of Conservation: Winners Announced!
Contestants, friends, and the Island art community gather to enjoy the Art of Conservation
Participants in the first VCS high school art contest were honored May 10th
with a special reception at the MV Film Center for the opening of the
Art of Conservation showing. Winners in each of the four categories took
home $100 gift certificates to DaRosa’s or Educomp. First place in
sculpture was awarded to Austin Chandler, painting to Hadley Chapman, photography to Kylie Hatt, and drawing to Lucy Thompson. Special distinctions were awarded to Samantha Bettencourt, Emilia Capelli, Beatriz Da Costa, Bean Haller-Hiser (twice), Henry Jephcote, Adelaide Keene, Sabrina Reppert, and Caroline Roddy. Read more about the judging and winning entries at our website.
Island Towns United in Effort to Control Nitrogen Pollution
At last Tuesday’s Town Meeting, Aquinnah voters approved
a new set of regulations on the sale and use of lawn fertilizer,
joining the other five Island towns whose meetings occurred earlier this
spring. Having one set of standards Island-wide is essential to
effectively address the impact of nitrogen pollution on our coastal
ponds, for the simple reason that many of these bodies of water receive
inputs from more than one town. But it also greatly simplifies
implementation -- consider the alternative, where landscaping companies
are switching out chemicals and changing application rates as they cross
It is an accomplishment of environmental protection, advocacy, and
community action worth celebrating – and one whose success could not
have been confidently predicted, since anything can happen when success
rests on passage at six separate town meetings. It’s a sensible set of
regulations, with the added benefit of avoiding an automatic imposition
of less locally-appropriate state regulations. For more information on
the new fertilizer bylaw itself, see the MV Boards of Health.
A Legal Affirmation of the Public Benefit of Conservation Land
Environmental and land protection groups secured an important legal
victory last week, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a
strong ruling in support of the property tax exemption for conservation
land. The specific issue in question was whether a parcel of woodland
owned by the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) was being “occupied
by it for the purposes for which it is organized.”
The parcel is located within the Town of Hawley, who in taking the
concept of “occupy” very literally (and a bit anthropocentrically),
argued that since NEFF had done little to encourage public access on the
property (there was very little signage, for example), the land was not
being sufficiently occupied by people, and thus not worthy of a
charitable tax exemption.
The Court disagreed, finding that the conservation group does occupy the
land for its intended purposes, and that those purposes do, in fact,
benefit the public: cleaner air and water, wildlife habitat, carbon
uptake, sustainable logging, etc. Although the ruling
simply reinforces the status quo, it’s an important finding for all
land conservation efforts in the state. While the specific tax bill in
the NEFF v. Hawley case was quite small, the higher property values in
the eastern part of the state (and the Vineyard!) would result in
crippling tax liabilities for conservation groups had the exemption been
Climate Pessimism: The False Excuse of "Inevitability"
The Thwaites Glacier, part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Photo from NASA.
The complete loss of a major portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet
over the next few centuries now appears inevitable, according to a
recent study out of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UC Irvine.
It’s an important finding, though not unexpected
by the scientists themselves. However, the media covered it with
unusual enthusiasm for an environmental story, often featuring smart, well-explained articles mismatched with overly alarmist headlines implying that this, finally, is the evidence that climate change is real.
So what is the significance of the specific finding in this case? It’s
nothing so dramatic as vastly raising our expectations of sea level rise
in the next few decades. Since the ice sheet’s collapse is due to
warmer water flowing around and under it, the study is more evidence
that ocean temperatures are rising – even in the southern ocean, which
has been somewhat shielded from global warming.
But we already knew that. More important is that we now understand we
have purchased yet another “inevitability” to bestow upon our
grandchildren. We’ve written here many times that a moderate amount of
climate change and sea level rise is coming over the next few decades
and there’s nothing we can do today to stop it – rather, the whole point
of reducing carbon emissions is to reduce (or reverse) impacts in the
second half of this century and beyond. To that, we can now add the
knowledge that there is another amount of unstoppable sea level rise,
set in motion by our actions over the past century, to come over the
much longer term.
The most important thing, though, is that this is not a reason to throw
up our hands in despair, nor cause to get to work on an ark. As with the
unavoidable sea level rise over the next few decades, this new problem
is not insurmountable. It will be costly, but humanity can adapt to
several feet of rise over several centuries. But the time has come to
act to reduce our emissions today, before we create any more of these