Henry Beetle Hough Was Lighthouse Champion

Whether or not the con troversy over tearing down Henry Beetle Hough’s historic house is resolved, there is still a need for the Island to honor the memory of this conservation activist in a way commensurate with his role in preserving our lands, beaches and monuments. Adding his name to the official designation of the Edgartown Lighthouse, perhaps calling it the Henry Beetle Hough Memorial, would accomplish this. Without Henry Hough, there would be no Edgartown light, and generations would be unaware of the beauty and history we now all enjoy.

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Shattered Peace on North Road

A series of wetlands violations in the town of Chilmark underpin drama which is the stuff of a daytime soap opera, complete with tangled relationships, trespassing orders and bitter class divisions.

A fiery public hearing at a recent meeting of the Chilmark conservation commission revealed more than one layer of problems at the Aerie, a mixed neighborhood of seasonal and year-round residents off North Road which has seen turmoil over prolonged construction projects and multiple environmental abuses.

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Clearing Trees To See Forest’s Old Ecosystem

The red pine plantations of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest have been described as recently as 1998 by this paper as a “pine cathedral,” with evenly spaced rows of the northern evergreen towering above a forest floor nearly barren except for a carpet of needles. Now that cathedral has been all but sacked by fungal barbarians known as diplodia pinea which infect the trees from the shoots and rot them to the core.

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The Value of Forestlands

It is by far the Island’s largest conservation property, more than five thousand acres spread across the Vineyard’s ample middle, spanning the towns of Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury and Edgartown. But as conservation properties go, the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest is also largely unsung. It’s that vast swath of trees you drive by on the north side of the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. It’s the corner near the airport where Smoky the Bear reminds all who pass what the level of fire alert is today.

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Conserving Lands Great and Small

Lloyd Raleigh is bent double , trying to negotiate his way through a dense thicket of catbriar in the moist wetands of Brookside Farm. As thorns entangle his jacket, a soup of leaf mold and sphagnum moss sucks his boots deeper into the mud.

“I kind of like this spot,” he says. “It tells us a lot about the land.”

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Lobster Stocks Found Failing

Due to a combination of climate change creating warmer water conditions and continued pressure from fishing, lobster stocks in southern New England have been badly depleted, and a five-year moratorium is needed for recovery.

This is the recommendation of a technical panel for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in a report discussed last week.

“Overwhelming environmental and biological changes coupled with continued fishing greatly reduce the likelihood of southern New England stock rebuilding,” the report said.

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Continuing the Cause to Protect Fragile Habitat

The local chapter of Ducks Unlimited, a conservation nonprofit dedicated to preserving habitat, hosted its 34th annual dinner last Saturday at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. And though turnout may have been the smallest in the organization’s long Island history, the group felt good about the evening, according to chairman Cliff Meehan.

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Fishing’s Impact on Oceans Comes Into Sharp Focus With Photographer

The world’s oceans need protection, a globe-traveling National Geographic underwater photographer told a large audience at the Tabernacle last Saturday.

After 35 years of photographing the oceans, Brian Skerry, 49, said he is troubled by growing evidence of degradation of habitat and the waste and loss of sea life. “I think the oceans are dying a death of a thousand cuts,” he said.

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Lawmakers Weigh Property Rights on Ponds

A bill which has been quietly making its way through the state house could dramatically affect the future ownership of some of the Vineyard’s pristine barrier beaches, moving them from private hands to public.

The bill, which consists of just a single paragraph, relates to the barrier beaches that separate the Island’s Great Ponds from the ocean. Many of these beaches are privately owned and also are retreating into the ponds as they are eroded on their seaward side.

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Taming Wildness Of Sheriff’s Meadow

Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary, the Edgartown property that gives its name to the Island’s largest private landowner and conservation group, is slated for restoration.

Adam Moore, executive director of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, said at the foundation’s annual dinner this week that more than $300,000 of the $500,000 needed to refurbish and maintain the 20-acre property for public use has already been raised, and the foundation is actively seeking the balance from friends and neighbors.

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