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Quote of the Week
"Smells like money to me."
The Virginian-Pilot, Feb. 1, 2009
Tongue-in-cheek suggested town motto of Franklin, VA, home of a paper mill that until recently employed 1,100 people in a town of 8,400. It closed in 2010, and reopened this year as a "fluff pulp" plant, employing about 220. Paper mills have a distinctive smell, powerful and unpleasant, from the chemicals used in pulp processing.

Conservation Calendar

Mill Brook Restoration: Opportunities and Challenges

Saturday, Jan 21 at 3:30 pm, West Tisbury Library.
Michael Hopper, president of Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition, will share his experiences improving habitat for this fish (often called “salters”) through stream restoration efforts in southeastern Massachusetts. For more info about the discussion session, call the library at 508-693-3366. For general info about the Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition, see their website.

Shell Recycling Workshop
Saturday, Jan 21, 11:00 - 2:00, at the Wakeman Center, Lambert's Cove Rd.

The Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group hosts a discussion exploring the ideas and challenges of shell recycling on the Vineyard. Special guest presentations will feature successful shell recycling in the Chesapeake area, the importance of shell in marine ecosystems, and progress of the first year of the Martha's Vineyard Shell Recovery Partnership, followed by a panel brainstorming ways to expand the program and make it sustainable. Free, with coffee & light lunch provided. For more info please contact Rick Karney at

In Season Recipe

Tacos de Venados, or Venison Carnitas

A different recipe, but red cabbage is a nice touch

Deer may not be “in season” anymore, but for those with venison in the freezer, it is the season for figuring out what to do with all of that perfectly useful, but unexciting, stew meat before everyone gets tired of not-beef stew.
Many people use ground venison as a substitute for beef in Tex-Mex style tacos, but here we’re making something like carnitas (except not fried), using shredded stew meat. First, the hard part: You need a way to simmer small chunks of venison until fork-tender, but we’ll assume that if you have it in the freezer, you already know how to do this.
This recipe assumes a crock pot and about 10 hours, but you could adapt it to the stovetop.

  • 2 lbs venison, chopped into cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • chicken broth
Place the venison, salt, and spices in the slow cooker with enough chicken broth to cover. Once it is fork-tender, remove the meat; to save a little work later, roughly shred/chop it a bit at this point. Place the meat in a large skillet or Dutch oven and add the orange juice and about a cup of the liquid from the crock pot (or use OJ and water to reduce the fat, if there was any to begin with). Simmer this over low to medium heat, 15-30 minutes, all the while shredding the meat as you stir to prevent sticking. It’s done when the liquid is reduced and it looks something like a pulled-pork BBQ.
Serve as tacos, using lightly broiled flour tortillas, with homemade salsa and/or guacamole. Shredded lettuce doesn’t work very well here (unlike the ground meat Tex-Mex style), but try diced sweet onions and cabbage for a resilient crunch. Also, there’s no heat to this meat filling, so make sure you have hot sauce on hand for any resident hotheads.
Monday, January 16, 2012

Local News

Island Flora and Fauna Star in Wakeman Area Winter Walk

The star attraction, non-human mammal division. (Click for full-size photo, slideshow available on our homepage)

Thanks to all who came out last Sunday for what may have been our largest-ever gathering for a Winter Walk. The official count was 114, but being a group too large (and mobile) to count individually, our volunteers’ estimate of about 150 is probably more accurate. No doubt the huge turnout was the product of wonderful weather coinciding with a strong and diverse interpretive component: Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin of BiodiversityWorks provided an otter’s-eye-view of their habitat, Carol Magee of the Vineyard Open Land Foundation discussed the Cranberry Acres restoration project, and Liz Loucks of The Nature Conservancy discussed our island’s native flora while guiding the group along the trails of the Hoft Farm Preserve. Also, special thanks to our volunteer Events Committee and the interpretive guides for working to organize and pull off a great event, entertaining and educating over a hundred people.  
Overall, the walk was a great success. However, we do apologize to any who expected more vigorous exercise (a few folks decided to walk the trails in reverse to get the heart rate up), and to those who missed any portion of the interpretive component. Due to the extremely high turnout and extensive educational component, it was at times (especially in the beginning) a slow-moving walk. We hope that it was a fun and educational experience for everyone in attendance, including those that may have turned back early or missed a part.

Paper from Trees, Trees from Paper

Thanks to Marilyn Miller for calling attention to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach that the staff of the Oak Bluffs Public Library took for holiday decorations this year. Check out their blog post, and send them a quick comment if you like their (re-)deconstructed trees.
Public libraries have long embodied an important part of the spirit of recycling: getting more value out of limited resources. A book printed on recycled paper is good, but a book that is re-used by sharing among many people is much better. 

Big House Debate Gets Specific

Light colors and open floorplans are just the beginning. With creative design, it's not impossible to make a mere 8,238 sq. ft. look so much more spacious!

In recent weeks, the controversy over very large houses has taken a turn toward the specific, and some would say personal, in Chilmark.  Focus has been drawn on the under-construction estate of Adam Zoia, which features a large indoor pool and barn, in addition to the 8,238 sq. ft. main house. The Vineyard Gazette has done a good job covering the story in a series of articles (subscription required), including an account of the objections from the community and Mr. Zoia’s position, a round-up of emails from Chilmark residents on the subject, and this week, a piece focusing on the legal issues and practical matters of regulating house size.
As previously stated, VCS is strongly in favor of enhanced regulatory ability to review very large house proposals, whether at the town level or through the MVC. This can, and should be, accomplished using advocacy, activism, and most important, the regular democratic process of our local governments. The uproar over one particularly large house in Chilmark has served a valuable purpose, pushing the prominence of the issue in town meetings, but it has its limitations and drawbacks. First, to state the obvious, this house is already under construction, and it will be completed. Second, it’s understandable that Mr. Zoia feels “besieged.” His isn’t the largest house on the island, and as he says, he followed all the rules. As Reid Silva of Vineyard Land Surveying puts it:
“There is no rule that said he couldn’t do what he did with the house size, it’s a very subjective thing. Everyone has different opinions. But until the town comes up with something, I don’t think it’s fair to scrutinize people who do what they’d like to do. . . . There’s a legal question at hand, let’s get to the bottom of whether we can limit the size.”
Indeed – let’s get to the bottom of it! The towns can have the authority to limit house size, should they want it. It’s already present in Aquinnah, where Mr. Zoia’s house most likely couldn’t be built, and Chilmark is taking up the issue right now. For residents of the other towns: consider whether this is an issue you want to raise at the next town meeting, before the next unpopular trophy house is under construction.

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Copyright (C) *2012* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.