Clearing Trees To See Forest’s Old Ecosystem
Peter Brannen

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
Geraldine Brooks

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
Mark Alan Lovewell

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
Mark Alan Lovewell

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
Mark Alan Lovewell

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
Mike Seccombe

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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Bluefin Tuna Denied Endangered Status
Mark Alan Lovewell

Bluefin tuna — the center of a highly lucrative commercial fishery and heated controversy about overfishing — will not be listed as an endangered species, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week.

“NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as species of concern under the Endangered Species Act,” a press release that accompanied the decision said.

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With Baitfish Scarce, Otters Move Inland Snacking on Goldfish, This Time at Peril
Mark Alan Lovewell

A valiant effort to save the life of two malnourished baby otters came to an end over the weekend.

One otter, found in a yard in Oak Bluffs on Thursday afternoon and sent Friday morning to the Trailside Museum in Milton, died over the weekend. A second baby otter, recovered on Friday not far from where the first otter had been found, also died.

The two otters, about eight weeks old, lost their mother when she was hit and killed on Barnes Road in Oak Bluffs on the morning of June 7.

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