Shorelines: Winter Newsletter

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It all began in 1968, when a group of concerned citizens organized in opposition to a proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn Eastham’s Nauset Marsh into a deep-water port.

From that local response to a regional threat, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod was born.

During the subsequent five decades, APCC has achieved many successes in our efforts to safeguard the Cape’s environmental resources, such as passage of the Ocean Sanctuaries Act, designation of the Cape as a sole source aquifer, creation of the Cape Cod Commission, adoption of the Cape Cod Land Bank, establishment of Cape Cod coastal waters as a No Discharge Zone, plus enactment of numerous local environmental bylaws and protective regulations, to name only a few examples.

APCC continues to be hard at work, making our presence known in living room grassroots gatherings, at town committee hearings, before regional government commissions, in the legislative chambers at the State House, and in the halls of Congress, speaking out for the people and the natural beauty of Cape Cod.

A reflection on 50 years… and a look ahead

Turning 50 is commonly a reason to look back and reflect, and that’s what we’ve done in this issue of Shore Lines—highlighting APCC’s proud record of achievement. Though we should all feel good about APCC’s history, I find much of my time these days is spent thinking about the future and what we can do to assure that Cape Cod remains a great place to live, work and play.

There’s plenty to do! 2018, our 50th year, will be a critical one for the Cape. APCC will push hard to ensure that the Cape Cod Water Protection Trust becomes a reality so that the affordable cleanup of our bays will be realized. Also, APCC will fight the erosion of environmental protections, challenge climate change denial, and pursue implementation of the restoration of coastal wetland resources needed to adapt to already rising sea levels.

As always, we will review every critical development proposal to be sure the Cape’s important resources and special character are protected. Some things never change.

My goal for our 50th year is that when we look back at it, we find it to be among our most productive and influential. APCC has never rested on its laurels and isn’t going to start now. All of our environmental goals were achieved with you and your fellow members’ support. Now, as ever, we rely upon you. Please, remember our Year End Appeal in your annual giving for 2017. Think of it as a gift to the future of Cape Cod! Thank you.

Andrew Gottlieb
Executive Director

P.S. If you are looking farther ahead, and wish to make a legacy gift to APCC, we’d be delighted to supply language or answer questions.

Check out what's planned for APCC's 50th

APCC is poised for a big year. In 2018, APCC will observe our 50th anniversary as the Cape Cod region’s environmental advocate.

To mark this significant milestone, APCC has planned a year-long series of events that will be informative, thought-provoking, entertaining and inspiring.

APCC’s 2018 speakers’ series will offer up a wide range of topics presented by a selection of renowned individuals and leading experts. Stay tuned for details on a special March event in partnership with Cape Cod Beer. Then be sure to visit Preserving the Very Nature of Cape Cod —a major exhibit from March through May at the Cape Cod Museum of Art dedicated to APCC and the Cape’s environment. In October, APCC will host a tribute to Henry David Thoreau’s ecological legacy featuring guest lecturers and other events, centered around a month-long exhibit of acclaimed nature photographer Scot Miller’s works celebrating the writings and travels of Thoreau, all taking place at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

And in addition to the events mentioned above, join us throughout 2018 for an eclectic series of films, walks, talks and other interesting goings-on in observance of APCC’s 50 years.

Don’t miss out on the 50th anniversary celebration. Check APCC’s calendar of events regularly for new postings as they’re scheduled. Better yet, go to our website and sign up to receive emailed announcements of all the 50th anniversary events, plus alerts and other news.

Throughout 2017, APCC remained a consistent presence at the Massachusetts State House, speaking out on behalf of our members on issues and legislation affecting the environment and Cape Cod’s natural resources. So far, APCC has testified in person before the state legislature and submitted written testimony on over a dozen bills filed during the current legislative session on priority issues such as climate change, water pollution, better land use laws, pesticide use, protecting public lands, preserving pollinator habitat and funding for environmental programs in the state budget. APCC’s written testimony can be viewed at www.APCC.org/positionstatements.

APCC provided testimony on the following bills in 2017:

At the halfway point in the 2017-2018 legislative session, there has been promising movement forward on three bills. Legislation establishing a state climate change adaptation management plan (S.2196) passed the Senate and is currently under consideration by the House. A bill providing a sustainable funding source for the Community Preservation Act (H.3662) and a bill to help ensure a no net loss in open space and other public lands (S.2181) both received favorable recommendations from legislative committees and have advanced.

APCC continues to work with the Cape legislative delegation, Senate and House leadership and our environmental partners to push for legislation that will increase protections for our environment.

The Climate Adaptation Management Plan legislation recently passed by the state Senate would bolster “green” climate change resiliency strategies, such as restoring salt marshes that serve as buffers to storm surge and sea level rise.

APCC’s Restoration Coordination Center assists towns and community groups with planning, implementation and outreach to restore habitats and improve water quality. Over the past two years, the RCC has brought in $830,000 to support projects across the Cape. The following are some examples from 2017.

Salt Marsh Restoration Monitoring

The RCC staff and interns gather data before and after restoration projects are completed to track changes in plant and wildlife communities and positive or negative impacts on the environment. This allows us to demonstrate long-term success and gather lessons learned for future projects. In 2017, the RCC completed monitoring at Parkers River in Yarmouth, Little Pamet River in Truro, Sesuit Creek in Dennis, and Crosby Lane and Stony Brook in Brewster.

Coonamessett River Restoration:

On October 30th, APCC and partners participated in the groundbreaking event for the Coonamessett River restoration project in Falmouth. This river restoration will return cranberry bogs to a natural wetland system, the first of its kind on the Cape. See the video at apcc.org/videos.

Three Bays Stormwater Project:

Phase one of this three-year project is complete. Following a watershed assessment and prioritization process with public input, six sites were identified for phase two design and planning. Stormwater treatment at these sites will remove nitrogen and bacteria pollution before it enters the bays. Draft design plans will undergo public review in early 2018.

Childs River Restoration:

The RCC is working with the Falmouth Rod and Gun Club on restoration of the Upper Childs River, including the Farley and Garner bogs. This project will remove an earthen dam and failed fish ladder preventing upstream migration of fish and will return the bogs to a more natural wetland and river ecosystem. The result will be new and improved access to cold water habitat for recovery of brook trout and creation of better wildlife habitat.

Run sizes for Cape Cod herring runs are in—and for most runs the news isn’t good. With the exception of four runs, most major runs in 2017 decreased in size based on visual counts by volunteers. Runs that decreased include Stony Brook (Brewster), Herring River (Wellfleet), Herring River (Harwich), Quashnet River and Santuit River (Mashpee), Cedar Lake (Falmouth) and Long Pond/Parkers River (Yarmouth). The Mashpee River run increased slightly from 2016, but was still low compared to prior years.

Runs that increased include Bridge Pond (Eastham), Mill Creek (Sandwich) and Pilgrim Lake (Orleans). These increases suggest that restoration efforts have enabled more herring to reach ponds to spawn.

However, low run sizes for restored runs raise troubling questions about the total standing stock of herring in the Northeast. Fisheries scientists continue to study causes of low numbers, including nutrient pollution, overfishing, barriers to fish passage, poaching, predation and climate change.

Long-term trends are more telling than year-to-year changes. State officials characterize statewide herring populations as showing some signs of recovery in a few runs but the overall population remains depleted to near-historic lows.

APCC’s pilot test of a new cyanobacteria monitoring program, conducted this past summer and fall, proved successful. It led to posting of public health advisory notices at two Brewster ponds in response to toxic cyanobacteria blooms that may have otherwise gone undocumented.

Surface blooms were visually detected at Walkers Pond in late August and Upper Mill Pond in late September and were photographed, sampled and analyzed. APCC staff notified the town, which then notified the state Department of Public Health, resulting in posted warning signs at public access locations.

Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms that can form toxic blooms on the surface of lakes, ponds and coastal waters. Exposure through skin contact, ingestion and inhalation can result in ailments ranging from minor skin rashes to severe illness and death in humans, domestic animals and wildlife.

For the monitoring program, water samples were collected and later analyzed at Brewster’s Walkers and Upper Mill ponds and Scargo Lake in Dennis. The work was completed by APCC staff, an intern and high school volunteer, along with volunteers from the Brewster Ponds Coalition and other partners.

The program was designed by the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative to improve timely monitoring and reporting of potentially toxic blooms through user-friendly monitoring methods accessible to citizen scientists. Special thanks to Hilary Snook of the U.S. EPA, Nancy Leland of Lim-Tex and Karen Malkus of the Brewster Ponds Coalition for providing volunteer time, equipment, expertise and scientific support. Plans are underway to expand the program in 2018 to monitor additional ponds in other Cape towns.

This past summer, we reported that APCC and the Cape Cod Commission had obtained a state 604b water quality grant to investigate options for forming a Cape Cod Stormwater Coalition. This fall, APCC is conducting a survey of municipal stormwater managers to identify resources and needs for stormwater management, including funding, staff, mapping, equipment, bylaws, or all of the above. The results of the survey will be used to guide the project.

Towns presently manage stormwater individually. If each town were to continue working on their own to address local, state and federal stormwater requirements, there would be duplication of effort resulting in needless expense and labor. A stormwater coalition of towns and agencies could help towns to provide cost-efficient stormwater management by working together and sharing services and/or resources.

The project will include a needs assessment, resource inventory, gap analysis, options for collaborative strategies for towns and public outreach concerning the need for improving water quality through stormwater management. For more information contact Dr. Jo Ann Muramoto at 508-619-3185.

At APCC’s annual meeting in September, Kris Ramsay from Brewster was elected to a first term on the board of directors. Margo Fenn, Blue Magruder and Robert Summersgill were each elected to a second term. Robert Ciolek of West Hyannisport was elected by the board this past summer to fill a vacant post. Retiring from the board were Anne Ekstrom, Katherine Garofoli, Elizabeth Jenkins and Daniel Webb. We welcome Kris and Robert as our newest board members and extend our sincere thanks to the retiring board members for their contributions of time and talent to APCC.

Following the annual meeting, the board of directors elected the officers for the upcoming year. Reelected were Margo Fenn as president, Charles Sumner as vice president and Robert Summersgill as treasurer. Maureen O’Shea was elected to the position of clerk, replacing retiring board member Elizabeth Jenkins in that role.

Lauren Ainsworth, APCC’s 2017-2018 AmeriCorps member

APCC welcomes Lauren Ainsworth, an AmeriCorps Cape Cod member serving with us through July 2018. She is assisting with outreach and education projects related to APCC’s Living Landscape Laboratory, ecological land care and freshwater ponds. Lauren is originally from Natick, Massachusetts. Prior to joining AmeriCorps, Lauren completed her master’s degree in public anthropology with a focus on environmental conservation.

Joshua Roseman, student volunteer

Joshua Roseman is APCC’s newest volunteer. Although a New York City native, Joshua has come to the Cape every summer since the age of twelve. Joshua is taking a gap year before going to college, trading big city life to work on conservation efforts. He is assisting APCC staff on salt marsh and cyanobacteria monitoring as well as compiling data on native and invasive plants. He will also help organize data from previous years of salt marsh monitoring. Joshua plans to major in climatology.