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Almanac Archive for November 8, 2018

   The Conservation Almanac
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Quote of the Week

"It's really good news . . . If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that.”
—Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A report released this week by the UN shows that the Earth's ozone layer has begun to repair itself, a clear demonstration that international cooperation — despite today's challenges — remains essential to addressing global problems. Read more at the BBC
B.Y.O. and Save
We will be using this space to highlight programs and promotions from local businesses that help encourage and reward the BYO spirit. If you see something while you're out, or are a business owner who is already doing something great, let us know!

Bulk Olive Oil at The Larder

Butcher shop and market The Larder is now selling bulk olive oil. BYOB and save $3! Located at 342 State Rd., Vineyard Haven. 
Conservation Calendar

State Beach Clean-Up
Photo: Friends of Sengekontacket
Saturday, Nov. 10, 10:00 am — noon, Beach Road Edg/OB.
Friends of Sengekontacket hosts a beach clean-up this weekend, setting out from multiple locations along State Beach: Little Bridge, Big Bridge & Bend in the Road. Bring your friends, bring your kids, let's give some love to our beach this Fall season. The F.O.S. will dispose of all trash collected, and even provide donuts and coffee at the Little Bridge starting point! For more info, send a text message to Chick at (774) 563-1805.

Making Reusable Beeswax Wrap

Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:00 — 5:00 pm, Vineyard Haven.
Yet another way to cut down on disposable plastic: learning to make your own reusable wraps out of beeswax at this crafting activity for adults at the Vineyard Haven Library. Email Jennifer for more info. 

Citizen Science & a Culture of Knowledge

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 5:00 — 6:00 pm, Chilmark.
Island naturalist Matt Pelikan, a participant in or organizer of numerous citizen science projects, will discuss the way this radical new kind of science has altered how people understand the natural world around them, and how you can contribute to citizen science projects yourself. A free talk at the Chilmark Library.

Dinner & Presentation on USDA Farm Incentives
Friday, Nov. 16, 6:00
pm, West Tisbury.
A presentation for Island farmers on the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The event will be at the Ag Hall with dinner provided. For more info, see poster. Call (508) 687-9062 or email to RSVP.

Guided Walk at Polly Hill
Saturday, Nov. 17, 10:00
— 11:00 am, West Tisbury.
Join PHA staff for a look at plants in the autumn landscape. Fall offers an opportunity to appreciate foliage color, as well as the beauty found in plants’ form, habit, fruit, and bark. Meet at the Visitor Center and dress for the weather. $5 (free for members), no pre-registration required. For more info, call (508) 693-9426.
Winter Walks Return with Exploration of Chickamaug / Chickemoo Area

Approaching the Vineyard Open Land Foundation's cranberry pond near the Wakeman Center; photo taken January 2012 during our previous Winter Walk

The first VCS Winter Walk of the 2018-2019 season will be this Sunday (Nov. 11), when we set out from our home base off Lambert's Cove Road to explore the network of trails through the fields, woods, cranberry ponds and bogs surrounding the Wakeman Conservation Center. The walk begins at 10 am and should last about 1.5 to 2 hours. 


A Revolutionary History: The 240th Anniversary of Grey’s Raid


The earliest known inhabitants of the area called this place Chickamaug or Chickemoo, an Algonquin reference to the weir fish trapping that once thrived at Onkokemmy Bay today known as Lambert's Cove. 


However, later inhabitants European settlers and their descendants coined the name "Red Coat Hill Road" in response to an unwelcome visit from the Old World. In September of 1778, British General Sir Charles Grey anchored 47 warships containing 4,333 troops off Vineyard Haven harbor. After bringing his troops ashore, and marching them along an old way running past the residence of local Selectman Shubael Weeks, General Grey seized this high ground west of Tashmoo.

All told, 315 head of cattle and 10,574 sheep were expropriated from Martha's Vineyard in what would come to be known as Grey's Raid. This year marks the 240th anniversary of that historical plundering.


Directions from down-Island: Take a right onto Lambert's Cove Rd. (the "lower entrance"). In about 1 mile there will be a series of three dirt roads on your left: Paula, David, Helen. Take Helen Ave. Alternately, from up-Island: Proceeding east on State Rd., just past up-Island Cronig's and Conroy's take a left onto Lambert's Cove Rd. After 3.2 miles turn right onto Helen Ave. 
Once on Helen Ave., after about 500 ft, the road splits near a sign for VCS, Sheriffs Meadow Foundation, and Garden Club. To the right is a small parking area at the front of the Wakeman Center. Or, take a hard right at the sign and go down the steep hill for more parking. The walk will set out from the lower parking area below the building.

Stop & Shop Bags the Plastic

We were heartened by the recent decision by Stop & Shop to discontinue use of the new extra-thick (4 mil) plastic bags that had appeared in both Island locations this summer. These new bags are marketed as reusable and eco-friendly, and indeed there are some scenarios perhaps in the future, or elsewhere where this would be accurate. They are reusable, but in practice most customers still view them as disposable. They are recyclable, but must be brought to specific collection facilities, rather than placed in the regular single-stream bins. More generally, the new bags create the same litter, costs to our recycling system, and deadly threat to wildlife as the thin-film plastic bags they replaced.
Once we found out about the new bags, VCS began a dialogue with local management, who have always supported the plastic bag ban. They had been receiving negative feedback from customers regarding the new bags and agreed with our position that, while legal, the thicker bags were contrary to the spirit of the law. Unfortunately, the decision was not in their hands; fortunately, though, they were able to help open a channel of communications with higher management off-Island, where ultimately reason prevailed. Based on our most recent conversation, we can report that the 4 mil bags have been permanently discontinued, and, for those customers who forget to BYOB, Stop & Shop will return to using paper only. A hearty thank you is due to all involved in getting it right!

Steamship Terminal Expansion Update

In October, VCS sought to call attention to the opposition brewing in Falmouth regarding the proposed $60 million expansion of the Steamship Authority’s Woods Hole terminal – and to raise our own concerns. Criticism from the mainland has centered around the plan to build an opulent new ticket office (the much-mocked “ski chalet”), which would be energy inefficient, needlessly expensive, and squarely in the way of cherished water views. All reasonable complaints.
On our Island, however, the more serious impact of the proposed terminal expansion would be 1) specifically, the increase in car traffic that will result from the opening of a third slip for loading and unloading boats, and 2) more broadly, what this signals regarding the SSA’s expectations for future traffic growth. All evidence, whether it is spending so much on this terminal expansion, the ever-increasing size of the boats themselves, or simply the $1.3 million the SSA spends annually on advertising (for a service over which they hold a monopoly), suggests that the current business model expects, and perhaps relies upon, continued rapid growth.
What can you do?
To this point, despite the public pressure there are no apparent changes to the SSA’s plans. But it is early still, and much too soon to give up. Here a few options to help us spread the message:
  1. Please forward to friends the previous Almanac special edition focused on the issue; it contains a more thorough rationale for conservation-minded opposition to the proposal.
  2. In their news reporting, the Vineyard Gazette did a good job summarizing the VCS objections; that story was paired with a nice editorial echoing our position. A follow-up story on an initial meeting between the SSA and the MV Commission also touched on the issues of uncontrolled growth. All three Gazette pieces are worth reading and sharing. (Also, a thank-you is in order to the Gazette for helping to amplify this crucial issue!)
  3. A petition circulated by the Southeast MA Regional Transportation (SMART) Citizens’ Task Force has already garnered over 250 signatures. Its focus is on the ticket office design, but there is an opportunity to add your own comments regarding Vineyard traffic impacts if you wish.
The Vineyard Conservation Society is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water.
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Copyright (C) 2018 *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.
Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.

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