Home‎ > ‎


The 25th Annual Earth Day Beach Clean-Up
April 22, 2017: Rain or Shine!

Protect Wildlife, Beautify Your Island, Celebrate Earth Day, and Kick-Off Spring — All in One Great Family-Friendly Event

It's easy to go green this Earth Day: join your friends and neighbors in the Earth Day Beach Clean-Up! Just head out to your favorite beach at 10:00 - volunteers will be there with everything you need. Afterward, join VCS at the Harbor View Hotel for great food, a free raffle, and to compare your treasure hunting stories.

Read more about this community tradition at the Beach Clean-Up page!

This year's beaches include:

Aquinnah: Lobsterville, Philbin, Tribal Beaches
Squibnocket, Menemsha, Lucy Vincent
Fuller Street, Lighthouse Beach, South Beach (Left & Right Fork), State Beach (Bend in the Road)

Oak Bluffs: Eastville Point, State Beach (Little Bridge), Town Beach (SSA to Inkwell)
Tisbury: Meet at Owen Park or the town landing on the Lagoon; volunteer leaders will then send people on to the nearby beaches, including Grove Ave Beach, Hines Point, the Lake Street landing, Tashmoo opening, Owen Little Way, and the VH harbor.
West Tisbury: Cedar Tree Neck, Lambert’s Cove

Special thanks to our sponsors:
M.V. Savings Bank   |   Harbor View Hotel

Josh and Angela Aronie | Cronig’s Market | Lucky Hank’s

Offshore Ale | SBS | Scottish Bakehouse | Sharky's | Tyson Foods

and our volunteer group leaders:

Church of Latter Day Saints, Cub Scout Packs 90 & 93, Friends of Sengekontacket, Girl Scout Jrs. Troop 69246 and Brownie Troop 66207, Harbor View Hotel, Lagoon Pond Association, MV Savings Bank, MV Surfcasters, Oak Bluffs School, Tisbury School, Tisbury Waterways Inc., Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, Squibnocket Association, Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, Tisbury School, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), West Tisbury School

* * * Past Events * * *
Postponed: Winter Walk at Frances Newhall Woods Preserve

Update: following postponement due to weather, we are looking into rescheduling if possible. Stay tuned!

Join VCS for a return to the ever-changingFrances Newhall Woods Preserve. Located across the towns of West Tisbury and Chilmark, the 512-acre property provides one of the largest intact ecosystems on our island, including at least eight distinct natural communities, ten different soil types, and more than 200 plant and animal species.

Tough footing: Walks at the Woods Preserve often traverse areas where shrubby vegetation, mowed or burned, stiffly pokes up from the ground. So wear strong-soled shoes or boots, and we suggest leaving dogs at home – in previous years, sore paws have led some to be carried out by their human companions!

VCS has offered guided walks on the Woods Preserve since its protection in 1991, when the owners, Edwin Newhall Woods and Jeanne Woods donated a permanent Conservation Restriction (CR) to the Nature Conservancy (TNC). Upon the Woods’ death, the land was bequeathed to TNC and the CR was conveyed to VCS.

The walk will last one to two hours, followed by cider and cookies. Please dress for the weather, and keep any dogs on leashes. Parking is off North Rd. about one mile from the West Tisbury end; look for VCS signs and flags on the south side of the road. For additional info, please contact our office.

Film: A Plastic Ocean
January 19

The MV Film Society hosts another film collaboration with VCS, co-sponsored by Norton Point, maker of sunglasses using recovered ocean plastics. In A Plastic Ocean, an international team of adventurers, researchers, and ocean ambassadors go on a mission around the globe to uncover the shocking truth about what is truly lurking beneath the surface of our seemingly pristine ocean. 

The screening is at 7:30 pm, Thursday, Jan. 19. Tickets are $15 ($12 members, $7 children). Purchase tickets (and more info) at MV Film Society.

Winter Walks Return with Trips to Flat Point Farm & Morning Glory Farm

Our first winter walk of the 2016-17 season was a visit to Flat Point Farm. This beautiful piece of farmland, located directly on the Tisbury Great Pond, was saved from residential development just a few years ago through the combined efforts of the landowner, neighbors, the Land Bank, and VCS. Today, the farm raises beef and lamb, egg-laying chickens, and dairy goats, who provide milk for making cheese and artisanal soaps. 

The second walk was a wintry stroll through the farm fields of Morning Glory and the conservation lands beyond. The walk was led by long-time owner and operator of the farm (and new VCS president) Jim Athearn. The relationship between VCS and the Athearns dates to the early 1980s partnership (also including the town, the state, the Land Bank, and the previous owners) that succeeded in preserving the land on which the farm now sits, guaranteeing its farming future in perpetuity. Click here to read more about the conservation history of this iconic Island farm. 

VCS has been sponsoring free guided walks for thirty years; they are traditionally from 1:00 to 3:00 pm on the second Sunday of the month from November through March. 

Photos and stories from our past Winter Walks!

October 1: Living Local Harvest Festival

In support of this year’s theme of “Reduce—Reuse—Recycle,” and in anticipation of this winter’s implementation of the new plastic bag reduction bylaw, the VCS table at the Living Local Harvest Festival featured activities and information on how we can reduce our Island’s reliance on these disposable shopping bags. 

As always, the festival brought together great local food, music, animals, games and activities for kids of all ages, and educational presentations and demos on a variety of sustainability issues, this year including local recycling and “The Life of Trash,” renewable energy, and a composting workshop roundtable. In addition Cape Light Compact offered an opportunity to turn in old dehumidifiers and room air conditioners.

The Living Local Harvest Festival, an annual c
elebration of Island community spirit that has now grown into a major event and community treasure, was originally founded by four Island non-profits, the MV Ag. Society, Vineyard Energy Project, Island Grown Initiative, and VCS, to promote sustainable living on our island by encouraging local food production and the local economy, renewable energy, and resource conservation.

August 4: Conservator Appreciation Event

Our annual summer “Thank You” event for VCS Conservators was held this year at the Chilmark home of Dave and Karen Davis. The Davis home is a beautiful example of smart design that fits into the surrounding landscape rather than dominating it, and features modern technology to maximize energy efficiency. 

VCS Conservators are donors who give $1,000 or more per year, as well as those who have donated land and conservation restrictions.

At right: Peaches ripen on the trees of Jesse Ausubel's home orchard, the site of the previous Conservator Event.

June 29: VCS Annual Meeting 
Capacity Campaign Launched, and the Photography of Neal Rantoul

This year's annual meeting of the board and membership of the Vineyard Conservation Society was held at the West Tisbury Library. After three years at the helm, outgoing Board President Richard Toole impressed upon the group the importance of community action in the face of modern environmental and economic challenges. After Richard's introduction, and a short video recounting the historic and present role of VCS,
Linda Jones and Larry Hohlt announced the launch of a major fundraising campaign. To learn more about our Capacity Campaign, please contact our office.  

The business portion of the meeting was followed by a presentation of Island photography by Neal Rantoul. Recently retired (following 30 years as head of the Northeastern University Photo Program), Neal is a life-long Vineyard resident who now devotes his efforts full-time to making new work and bringing earlier work to a national and international audience.

Neal’s photography boldly illustrates how the Island is continually changing – due to both the unpredictable power of nature, as seen in our dynamic shoreline, and the rapid pace of development and other human impacts. In describing his work earlier this spring, Neal draws an analogy to photographer Eugene Atget’s work documenting the industrialization of Paris at the turn of the 20th century: “I felt in the late 80s and early 90s a sense of urgency about the Vineyard. Such rapid growth and building. I felt that areas unbuilt should be photographed so there would be a record.”

Memorial Day Weekend: Nature as Inspiration
The 2nd Annual Environmental Film Festival

The second edition of our collaboration with the Martha's Vineyard Film Society combined
environmental films, discussions, and art across four days at the MV Film Center. The films were followed by Q&A sessions with experts, community members, and special guests. In addition, the winning works from our 3rd annual high-school art contest, the Art of Conservation, were on display in the Feldman Family Art Space. 

April 30: The Earth Day Beach Clean-Up 

Read more about this community tradition at the Beach Clean-Up page!

Winter Walks: Scenes from the Edgartown Harbor

Winter Walks: Preserving Local Farming at the Allen Sheep Farm 

The second walk of the season was a visit to the iconic Allen Farm on South Road in Chilmark. The view from the farm out over the south shore is one of the most spectacular on the Island. 

Allen farm has seen animal grazing and human habitation for hundreds of years, all under Allen family stewardship; today, owners Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin carry on that tradition. Twenty-five years ago, 22.5 acres were preserved through an agreement among the owners, VCS, the Town of Chilmark, Mass DPW, and the Land Bank. Twenty years ago, VCS facilitated an additional gift of a Conservation Restriction (CR) on an abutting parcel of 5.3 acres. In recent years, the farm installed a wind turbine on the north side of the property under a state program where green energy projects are fast-tracked for farms and schools.

Read more about our other walks, or just check out the photos!

Living Local with the Vineyard Conservation Society

At this year’s Living Local Harvest Festival, VCS unveiled a bold plan to pursue the passage of a plastic bag ban in all six Island towns. Our goal is to put the new bylaw before voters at the 2016 Town Meetings. This would not mean an end to all plastic bags (the ban targets only those thin bags with integrated handles typically given out at the point-of-sale), but it is a meaningful step toward less land and marine pollution, and will help reduce the amount of plastic in our waste stream. Read more about what VCS is proposing and why.
The broader purpose of this year’s VCS Living Local program was to engage the community, especially our young people, in thinking about our consumption habits and resource conservation. If you missed it -- and your chance to decorate your own reusable canvas tote -- check out the photos above (or click here).  

Fresh Paint: The VCS 50th Birthday Celebration

This summer, in honor of the 50th anniversary of VCS, thirteen Island artists (see list below) c
reated works in support of, and inspired by, the conservation efforts of the Vineyard's only local environmental advocacy and land protection organization.

Many thanks to all who attended our 50th Birthday Party on August 5th, and everyone who helped make it happen, including our wonderful auctioneers, musicians, volunteers, staff, and sponsors.

An extra special thank you goes out to our participating artists. They not only donated their art to support VCS, but many also invited the public to view them at work!

Valentine Estabrook • Lowely Finnerty • Nancy Kingsley •  Kanta Lipsky
Thaw Malin • Marjorie Mason •  Harry Seymour • Tiffiney Shoquist
Jeanne Staples • Liz Taft • Wendy Weldon • Allen Whiting •  Rez Williams

Artists Painting en Plein Air to Support VCS

Seven of our Fresh Paint artists – Valentine Estabrook, Kanta Lipsky, Marjorie Mason, Tiffiney Shoquist, Jeanne Staples, Liz Taft, and Allen Whiting – invited the public to come watch them create their newest work live, on location. Their technique, known in the artistic community as painting en plein air, can be used to capture the immediacy and power of the natural world where things are constantly changing, or alternately, to communicate the peace and serenity in a particular moment. To all of our wonderful artists,

Thank You!
VCS Annual Meeting: Envisioning the Next Half Century
This year, a special 50th anniversary annual meeting was held at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury (a community treasure VCS had a hand in preserving). We briefly recognized the fifty years of work to protect the land, water, and quality of life on our Island, but spent most of the evening dedicated to a broader discussion about what it means to live sustainably for the next fifty years. Special thanks to speakers John Abrams and Marc Rosenbaum who helped facilitate an engaging conservation discussion.

Nature as Inspiration: The Films of Jacques Perrin

an environmental film festival

The first annual VCS environmental film festival was a rousing success! Hosted and co-sponsored by the MV Film Society, the event featured six screenings of the amazing nature films of Jacques Perrin. Many thanks to event organizer Jesse Ausubel for bringing Jacques and his team to the Vineyard, and to Richard Paradise, whose expertise and hospitality made the festival a joy for all. Special recognition also goes to Jesse for his adept moderation of the excellent Q&A sessions with the filmmakers and local naturalists, artists, and scientists that followed the films.

The Nature as Inspiration festival is part of a broader initiative from VCS called “Connect, Reflect, Protect.” In our 50th anniversary year, VCS is seeking to spark environmental awareness and reflection on the importance of connecting our Island community to the natural world that supports us. With several sellouts and packed houses all weekend – many times packed largely with young folks – there is no doubt that we are one big step further along the path of the Connect – Reflect – Protect outreach initiative.

Thanks to the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, whose grant made this festival possible.

Film Screening: The Island President

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, VCS in collaboration with the Center for Biological Diversity and the MV Film Society co-hosted a screening of the Oscar- and Emmy-winning documentary film The Island President, the story of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed’s efforts to raise awareness around climate change issues and protect his island nation from the rising seas. Frostpaw the polar bear, CBD’s climate change mascot, spoke with guests as a special treat!

The screening was part of CBD’s effort to draw President Obama’s attention toward climate change issues during his visit to the Island, and part of their broader campaign in opposition to Federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Conservator Appreciation Event
"In the Orchard"

The annual appreciation event for our most generous donors was held last year at the home of Jesse Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University. (Jesse is also a VCS Board alum and currently our Science Advisor.)

For more information on becoming a Conservator, please contact Signe Benjamin at (508) 693-9588 or via email.

VCS Annual Meeting Double Feature:

Beyond Bees with Paul Goldstein
At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the VCS Board and Membership, guest speaker Paul Goldstein of the Smithsonian Institution presented “Beyond bees: What insect and pollinator diversity tells us about conservation on the Cape and Islands,” a discussion of some of the Island’s unique creatures and habitats. For anyone who missed the meeting, check out the video of Dr. Goldstein’s here.

Rising Seas, Raising Awareness
As a bonus, prior to the meeting former VCS board member Phil Henderson gave an encore of his “Rising Seas” presentation, a look at local impacts of rising sea levels (video here). Phil discussed a variety of issues relating to climate change and sea level rise, but the most attention grabbing element was a series of maps specifically outlining what areas of our island will be submerged in the future. So attention grabbing, in fact, that the Gazette’s coverage of the meeting included small reproductions of the maps on their website.

The original high-res versions can be found at
our climate change page. Depicting areas inundated at both 1 meter (yellow) and 2 meters (red) of sea level rise, the maps paint a stark picture of valuable land and critical infrastructure lost outright in the not-too-distant future. What the maps do not reveal is the much broader area subject to flooding due to storm surges and the ongoing effects of coastal erosion.

Special thanks to Chris Seidel at the MVC for creating the map projections
, and to Dan Martino of MV Productions for producing both videos.

Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life
How can humankind manage to balance our needs for basic shelter and the experience of living in a natural, biotic world? Can it even be done in an urban area, with high population density, or in a rapidly developing rural area such as our island?
In March of 2013, VCS and the M.V. Film Society presented the new film Biophilic Design, which seeks to answer these questions and more.

We were joined at the screening by
Executive Producer Stephen Kellert, who is the co-originator (along with E.O. Wilson) and a primary developer of the Biophilia Hypothesis, a broader theory describing the interactions between humans and nature that draws on biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and other disciplines. The concepts of biophilia form the underpinnings of Professor Kellert's study of architecture and design presented in the film.

n an effort to dig a little deeper into the world of biophilia, VCS staffer Jeremy Houser recently conducted an interview with Dr. Kellert. Check out the interview to learn more about biophilia in general, Dr. Kellert's efforts to develop a code of ethics drawing on biophilic theory, and even why we are (perhaps unreasonably) afraid of spiders.

Climate Change: Building and Island Understanding

For the last several years, VCS has made climate change awareness and education an organizational priority. This summer, we hosted renowned environmentalists William and Margot Moomaw for a very special presentation at the Grange Hall. The Moomaws shared their insight into both the global context of one of the most pressing issues of our time and the possibilities and benefits of taking action locally to live deliberately and live better.

Video of the presentation is available from Martha's Vineyard Productions.

William Moomaw
is Professor of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University, and the founding Director of the Tufts Climate Initiative. He has authored work for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Margot Moomaw
is a graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health and has worked in the healthcare field for more than twenty-five years. She is now a green design consultant, offering expertise on actions homeowners can take to live better, more sustainable lives.
Green on Screen Film Series

Our collaboration with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society -- Green on Screen -- has truly taken flight over the past year. Screenings of films examining a variety of important environmental issues have become regular events at the new M.V. Film Center, recently opened to great acclaim by MVFS founder Richard Paradise.

Where possible, experts with inside knowledge of the film have been in attendance to lead informal discussion sessions after the showing, most notably Jesse Ausubel, who served as a science consultant on Switch, a film about the diverse methods of global energy production, and Stephen Kellert who presented his own film Biophilic Design. Other films, including Green Fire (the story of the great environmentalist Aldo Leopold), Dive (an exploration of food waste and “dumpster diving”), and Last Call at the Oasis (an expose of the global water crisis), featured discussions facilitated by VCS board and staff. Our screening of Chasing Ice, the story of a photographer’s effort to document the disappearance of the Earth’s glaciers, brought a third partner into the collaboration, the local chapter of the global climate advocacy organization 350.org.

Watch for announcements of new Green on Screen films at the VCS website, in our Conservation Almanac, and in the local papers' events calendars.