Letters to the Editor, March 9, 2013

Mon, 03/11/2013 - 1:25pm

To the Editor:

Hurricane Sandy and the December storm have devastated the Dune Restoration Project started by the Conservation Commission almost four years ago. Our program was working to rebuild the dunes by installing snow fencing to delineate the pathways to the beach. Sand was trapped by the fences and vegetation was being restored.

Fencing and restoration of the vegetation are the best ways to rebuild dunes. The primary winds are from the northwest and the southwest and studies indicate that fencing placed perpendicular to the beach serves to trap the drifting sand and to promote the growth of vegetation behind the fencing.

In places on Crescent Beach we have lost 15 to 20 yards of dune between Scotch Beach and Mansion Beach. The beach was scoured by the waves.

A review of Coastal Resources Management Council policy reveals that non-structural shoreline protection is the only means permitted for improving the natural habitat for plants and wildlife. Our objective should be to replace the snow fencing as quickly as we can obtain the necessary funding and materials.

To accomplish this, we need at least 50 rolls of snow fencing and supporting stakes to restore the access points along the 800 yards north and south of the Beach House and another 50 rolls to stabilize the dunes lost north of Scotch Beach.

To achieve this end, the New Shoreham Conservation Commission is partnering with The Block Island Resident’s Association (BIRA) in a fundraising effort. Each roll of fencing costs about $50 and the supporting posts cost about $25 per roll. Volunteer labor will be used to erect the fencing, a group of three volunteers can erect about three rolls in an hour.

BIRA leadership and the Conservation Commission are committed to raising the $5,000 to $10,000 necessary to complete this project through contributions from private individuals and by organizing work parties committed to restoration of the dunes.

BIRA will be polling their membership for financial support ($75 would buy a roll and the necessary posts and fasteners) via the internet and social media and we hope that other service groups will become involved in this program.

We ask that the Times assist in generating publicity to support this vital project.

Bill Penn, Chairperson of BIRA or Ned Phillips, Conservation Commission Chairperson, can be contacted or donations can be made to either BIRA or the Town of New Shoreham Conservation Commission

The Conservation Commission

To the Editor:

Anyone wanting a lesson in human greed need look no further than the clam flats of Great Salt Pond during summertime. Just sit on the sand beach abutting the clamming areas and watch people rape the recreational clam resource by totally disregarding the clam catch limit rules. The selfishness you’ll see is enough to make anyone sick.

The scenario plays out daily. A great many of the clammers, after having their license checked by the Wardens, go on to fill their clam sacks however they see fit knowing they are free from further scrutiny. This results in catches well over the limit, that as it stands now is realistically already excessive. A reasonable, measurable limit of two dozen clams that can be raked per person per day is a simple, logical and enforceable rule that would stretch the clamming season and keep the clam flats open to everyone. I am afraid that too many of the precious clams that “Bo” Gempp and the Commission work so hard to provide are just squandered. How many clams does the average person need per day?

The island and especially Mr. Gempp should be commended for creating what amounts to a unique “put and take” fishery that provides a venue where adults and children may enjoy a splendor of Block Island that sadly only a fraction of our visitors experience. Our goal should be that all visitors should have the same opportunity to try their luck on the clam flats no matter when they actually happen to be on Block Island. To spend a day or part of a day exploring Great Salt Pond can be priceless, where times are cherished with friends and family. This is how memories are made and the reason why people return every year.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your view, the clams seeded into Salt Pond don’t have fins, can’t swim to safety, and are meant to be taken. The challenge is to prolong the season and extend the activity to the greatest number of people. Limiting the number of shellfishing licenses as is under current consideration by the Town will not fix the problem because those that score a license will just continue to take, take, take, leaving nothing behind but empty sand. Instead, institute a simple, equitable, 24 clam limit just during the summer clamming season preserving a few clams for the “next guy” and then enforce the rule with the swift punishment of revoking the cheaters’ licenses.

The Great Salt Pond is a jewel for all to enjoy. Long live the excited call across the summer flats: “Grandpa, I found one!”

John Hooper Jr.

Sheffield Farm

To the Editor:

For what it’s worth, I’m an 11 year resident of Block Island. I live in a condo here and work four jobs to try to keep my head above water. Since I’ll be 64 in March, that’s not always an easy proposition. So, naturally, I’d love to save some money on my electric bills.

I believe strongly that the proposed wind farm will lower our electric bills and ease our situation out here on the island. I have read many of the studies and documents on it.

One thought that stands out for me is that, if this project doesn’t go through, we’ll have to wait years (or forever) for some alternative to be thoroughly studied and approved and implemented. By then, I may be forced to move elsewhere to survive.

In any case, I’m heartily in favor of using the free wind that’s virtually always out there on the sea south of our fair isle! It would be a step in the right direction to ease U.S. dependence on oil (and wars to get it and keep it).

There are those who say that their views will be altered forever. I say their views may be altered by beautiful windmills for maybe twenty years, at which time we can have included other alternatives in our scheme of things out here, and they will come down.

Thank you for your consideration of my humble opinion!

Barbara E. Temple

West Side Road

The following was sent to members of the Town Council and copied to the Block Island Times.

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my desire that you support, on behalf of our communities both local and global, the proposed Deepwater Wind project. While I share some of the reservations expressed about certain aspects of the proposal, I feel strongly that the overwhelming benefits far outweigh any real or perceived detriment.

As with other controversial topics, most, if not all, of the arguments pro and con have been exhaustively presented. I’m going to confine myself to just a couple of points that I don’t think have been thoroughly addressed. I hope that you’ll at least appreciate my relative brevity!

First, the possible effects on tourism: Given the hoopla raised in relation to Gov. Chafee’s proposal to raise taxes on tourism-related services by a few percent, it’s pretty hard now to countenance any argument that lowering the electrical costs of providing those services by 40 percent could be anything other than a great boon to the industry.

The other economic impact that I don’t hear discussed is the tremendous benefit of keeping all of those fuel cost and electricity dollars in the local economy. Most of the money that now leaves the community for the purchase and transport of a million gallons of diesel fuel each year will instead be spent and earned many times over by local people and businesses.

On the issue of decommissioning, it’s ironic to hear these objections applied to wind energy when we’ve rarely heard a peep for the past 60 years about the astronomic costs of cleaning up, storing waste, and decommissioning from the nuclear industry. Ditto the millions of abandoned petrochemical installations. And how about the huge taxpayerfunded PCB clean-ups, courtesy of the energy distribution business? Yes, there may be some decommissioning costs someday, although I expect it’s much more likely that the turbines will be replaced with increasingly reliable and efficient machines.

I have trouble accepting the validity of an argument that the installation of a few wind turbines offshore somehow constitutes desecration of a sacred place, when compared to the wholesale environmental and societal devastation wrought by extractive industries: I’m referring to mountaintop removal, open pit mining, aquifer contamination and depletion of entire regions, watershed pollution, biofuel monocultures, oil spills, rainforest defoliation and genocide, acid rain, the despoiling of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, geopolitical conflagrations... the list goes on and on.

What I would like to offer in closing is some comment on the personal costs of speaking to this issue, and on the seeming disparity in public statements on the subject. You all know that I have always been an outspoken advocate for conservation, alternative energy, and wind power. While I think it’s quite clear that the majority of our year-round community is in favor of this project, I think it’s also fair to say that the demographic that provides much of my livelihood may lean more in opposition. I know that my advocacy has cost me business and money. While that doesn’t stop me from speaking out for what I believe is right, it does make me very understanding of those who don’t, or can’t. If we could remove that unfortunate personal economic reality, I think you would see a much higher visible level of support for wind energy.

John Spier

West Side Road