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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro-Orleans Chatham-Harwich

6 Outer/Lower Cape towns slated for herbicide spraying

NStar's yearly plan for herbicide spraying beneath transmission lines is under review by the state, and all but two towns in Barnstable County have areas designated for treatment this fall. Brewster and Provincetown are this year's exceptions, along with all of Martha's Vineyard. The practice, which was restarted in 2013 after a four-year hiatus, has been the source of considerable outcry in the region each year, with opponents saying it puts the water supply at risk. "We're above a sole source aquifer," said Laura Kelley, director of the citizens' group Preserve Our Cape Cod Aquifer. "When the contamination shows up in our drinking water, it will be too late." State and local officials and Cape environmental groups have mobilized, since the public only has until March 27 to submit comments on the herbicide plan produced by Eversource Energy (formerly NStar) to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Eastham's Town Administrator Sheila Vanderhoef said selectmen are scheduled to review a letter her office has written when they meet this afternoon. Part of the letter will address maps of the targeted areas that Eversource has forwarded to each town. Vanderhoef believes Eastham's are incomplete. "They've identified some public water supplies on the map, but we have public and private wells arrayed throughout the right-of-way distance, and we're afraid they're not protected," Vanderhoef said. "We're also concerned about how close our public drinking water well is." Eastham officials would prefer to see herbicide spraying stopped altogether, Vanderhoef said. "They've told us that herbicide and mechanical cutting costs about the same, so it's unclear to us why they spray." Brewster officials have taken a similar stand, said Jillian Douglass, the assistant town administrator. "Brewster is not subject to spraying this year, but we're writing letters in support of change," Douglass said. "Our preference would be for mechanical removal, not chemical. Our message is, 'If you can do mechanical, why not?'" Brewster officials, meanwhile, are calling for better oversight of the herbicide application by the state and for better notification to abutters. "Maybe they could do those automated phone messages so people have advance knowledge," Douglass said. "We also want more details regarding the chemicals they use and their potential hazards." Eversource spokesman Michael Durand said the decision on whether to spray or mow has never been "primarily about costs." "This is and always has been about best management practices for rights-of-way," Durand said. "When you mow, you're eliminating everything in the path of the mower. When you have selective application only on targeted species, you allow native and in some cases rare species to survive." Regarding notification, Durand argued the utility meets state requirements. "We put a notice in the newspaper and notify abutters," he said. Durand said the general notice doesn't alert those living along the right-of-way to exactly when their area will be sprayed. Last October, a Harwich woman who owns a farm near the transmission lines said gusting winds were blowing the herbicide onto her property during spraying. She later developed a rash on her torso and arms. Kelley questions past statements by Eversource that less spraying would be required over time. "They're spraying more and more towns," Kelley said. "There were eight in 2013, nine in 2014 and 13 this year." Durand said spraying in the 13 towns involves treating different areas from those sprayed in the past. "If a town is on the list, it doesn't mean we're going to spray the same section of the right-of-way," he said. "It could be in another area or it could be a touch up." State legislators have also stepped into the fray. Last September, Sen. Daniel Wolf and state Reps. Sarah Peake and Timothy Madden wrote a letter to then Gov. Deval Patrick "expressing disappointment" that the Department of Agricultural Resources has allowed spraying to continue "despite the fact that every town on Cape Cod has passed a resolution in opposition to the program." Kelley is currently scheduling meetings with each of the legislators.


Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro-Provincetown Orleans-Brewster-Chatham-Harwich

Towns try group strategy on beach protection

A statewide habitat conservation permit is being touted as a common sense plan that protects piping plovers as well as public access to the Cape's critical barrier beaches. But a group of Cape officials are saying those reasonable solutions shouldn't just be for the birds -- as more and more shorefront washes away they should apply to dune restoration and beach nourishment as well. "(Beaches) are the number one tourist attraction, this is who we are," said Barnstable Town Councilor Philip Wallace, saying they needed to be protected. "If we don't do that we are destined for failure." Wallace was speaking Monday at a meeting of the Beach Access Coalition at the Barnstable County Court Complex. The group represents close to 10 Cape communities that hope to gain a greater voice in the face of what they see as sometimes counter-intuitive state and federal regulations. Members of the group are heartened by Orleans' success in collaborating with federal and state officials to help regain off-road vehicle access to Nauset Beach, but with erosion wiping out huge swaths of shoreline from Sandwich to Brewster to Truro they feel the future of the peninsula is at stake. "What necessary steps do we have to take to save our beaches?" said Selectman Wayne Bergeron of Dennis. "Because we are going to lose the game." Scott Morris, past president of the Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association who has been driving on Nauset Beach in Orleans his whole life, said the state-wide HCP is still being hammered out and may be able to solve more issues than getting people on the beach while protecting endangered species. All the issues are linked, he said. "That common denominator is erosion," said Morris. As the beaches get smaller people and wildlife get crowded into the same spots. "Do you want you want some kind of dune replenishment included in that HCP?" The statewide program, which is being hammered out now and expected to be in place next year, gives communities flexibility. Instead of having to apply for permits from both and state regulators and clear a number of hurdles, the state will allow more access in certain areas for greater protection in others. To move a plover nest in Harwich, for example, so a parking lot can remain open would be a much easier process under the state HCP; no federal sign off would be required. But mitigation would be required and that mitigation - perhaps more plover monitors on a stretch of beach in Chatham - would have to have the net result of increasing plovers on Cape. State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, who attended the meeting, as did state Rep. Tim Whelan, R-Brewster, said what might be valuable is something akin to a harbor management plan, but it would be a local sand and beach management plan. Harbor management plans take a long time to write, and require state sign off, but they basically allow towns to modify state standards to meet local planning objectives. "These home breakers seldom leave footprints or in many cases even fingerprints," acknowledged Barnstable County Sheriff Jim Cummings, a State Police detective lieutenant prior to assuming his current position. "But in this case they'll be leaving behind some valuable tips, ones that can make someone's home a more difficult mark for the thief." The presentation is the eighth in a series sponsored by the sheriff's office and Cape Cod police departments and its councils on aging. Coffee and donuts will be served.


mar04 Wellfleet

Street closures in Wellfleet today for snow removal

The Wellfleet Public Works Department will close sections of three downtown roads today to remove snow, according to the Police Department. The closures will occur from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Main, Bank and Commercial streets, and traffic will be detoured around the work sites, the police said.

mar04 Wellfleet

Inmates, crime solver to give B&E tips at Wellfleet forum

Two men who have committed dozens of home breaks will be joined by an expert who spends his day solving these and other Cape crimes at a Wellfleet forum on Thursday, March 12th. The presentation, sponsored by Barnstable County's Sheriff, Wellfleet's Council on Aging, and it's Police Department, will be held at the town's senior center, 715 Old King's Highway, from 9:30 AM to 11 AM. The program will open with a just-completed video of the two inmates, both still serving time at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility and both "experts" at breaking into homes. They explain exactly how they do it. John Szucs (pictured), who runs the Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Barnstable Village, will follow with his take on home breaks and the forensics employed to try and solve them.

mar04 Wellfleet

Town of Wellfleet White Ribbon Day (March 5, 2015)

WHEREAS the majority of women and men in our community are deeply concerned about the pressing problem of violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence;

AND WHEREAS the many cultures represented in our community are all affected, including heterosexual, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, communities of color, immigrants, the youth, the aged, the infirmed and the differently-abled;

AND WHEREAS the White Ribbon Day Campaign believes that the majority of men wish to make a positive contribution towards ending this violence;

AND WHEREAS our municipality wishes to take tangible steps to raise awareness and to support survivors and hold offenders accountable in our community, along with other municipalities across the commonwealth;

AND WHEREAS our municipality recognizes the important life saving work of Independence House and Children's Cove located within Barnstable County;

AND WHEREAS the White Ribbon Day Pledge states:  "From this day forward, I promise to be a part of the solution in ending violence against women." ;


  1. That Thursday March 5, 2015 is proclaimed WHITE RIBBON DAY in Town of Wellfleet.
  2. That all municipal employees, particularly men, are encouraged to wear the 'white ribbon' during the week of White Ribbon Day.
  3. That white ribbons will be available to all visitors to the Wellfleet Town Hall or the Wellfleet Police station during the week of White Ribbon Day.


mar04 Wellfleet

Cape Cod Notebook by Robert Finch: Cape Cod's Most Abundant Winter Bird May Surprise You

Robert Finch is a nature writer living in Wellfleet. He has lived on and written about Cape Cod for forty years. His essays can be heard on WCAI every Tuesday morning at 8:35am and Tuesday afternoon at 5:45pm. 'A Cape Cod Notebook' won the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing.

If I asked you to guess what is the most abundant bird on Cape Cod and the Islands this time of the year, which would you choose: The chickadee? Herring gull? Crow? Black Duck? Starling? House sparrow? Well, you'd be wrong with any of these. The answer is, the Common Eider, or sea duck. Now, it's possible to have lived many winters on the Cape and Islands without seeing any eiders, or at most a few. That's because they don't come to the local dump like herring gulls or to your backyard feeder like chickadees. Nonetheless, the Common Eider is, by far, our most abundant wintering bird species. You can prove this to yourself by taking a short boat trip to the shoals off Monomoy Island or Nantucket - not something most of us are likely to do in February. On those shoals are abundant beds of mussels, which form the eider's primary food source. And it's here you'll find the largest wintering rafts of common eiders on the entire Atlantic Coast. In some years, the estimated count of these flocks has exceeded 500,000 birds, or roughly the population of Boston. Although such large rafts are not usually visible from land, you can commonly see smaller flocks just out beyond the breakers anywhere on the Outer Beach, or in Cape Cod Bay or Nantucket Sound. Last February, for instance, I found a flock of 600 birds in Nauset Harbor. The eider is the largest of the sea ducks and easy to recognize, though you may need binoculars to see one up close. The male has a pied appearance - white back, black belly, white head, black eye and head cap, a thick goose-like bill, and a nape tinged with green. Like other sea ducks, eiders are remarkably strong divers and swimmers. They reportedly dive so quickly that they can spot the flash of a gun and be underwater before the bullet reaches them. They dive 50 or 60 feet to pluck mussels, clams, and small crustaceans off the bottom rocks, swallowing their food whole and crushing it with their powerful stomach muscles. They apparently use their wings to swim underwater and have been observed rising from below the surface and into the air while flapping them, as though simply moving from a more dense to a less dense medium. Despite their local abundance here in the winter, eiders have experienced a mysterious and disturbing die-off in recent years. Beginning in 1998, dead eiders have been found during late summer and early fall along the Cape's beaches in numbers ranging from a few dozen to as many as 3,000. Until recently the cause of these die-offs remained a mystery, but in 2007 a team of scientists identified the pathogen as a virus. Most of the dead eiders have been found near their feeding grounds at Jeremy Point in Wellfleet Bay. As a result, my hometown now has the dubious distinction of having the virus named after it. Its official name is the Wellfleet Bay Virus, or WFBV. What its origin is, how the virus is transmitted, and what, if anything, can be done to control it, remains unknown. Still, it's worth peering out over the winter surf to catch a glimpse of these birds. After all, you've got most of the Atlantic Coast population to choose from until late March or early April, when the eiders begin to head back north to their Canadian breeding grounds.

mar04 Wellfleet

Contradictions of 'tourist destination' by Brent Harold

I recently found out something about this small Mexican city, where we've spent a chunk of winter the past five years, that changed my whole way of looking at the place. San Miguel de Allende is famous for the colors of its buildings - a rich palette of blood red, oranges, earthy ochres. The way the town is painted is a major factor in the look of the place, one of the reasons we, along with painters, find the city charming. But until just a couple of decades ago, San Miguel had been for hundreds of years totally white (traditional whitewash, practical, reflecting the sun). From what we've been told, the coloring of the town was accomplished by governmental decree or committee. It was like learning that some key feature of your lover's charming body had been achieved some time before your acquaintance by cosmetic surgery. I had assumed the colors were the natural look of San Miguel, if not all Mexico, a part of the exotic, down-to-earth, life-and-death Mexican character. One of the reasons we come here (besides just getting away from winter) is for the exotic Mexicana embodied in those colors. So it has been something of a shock to find out that those colors were deliberately chosen to please us tourists, as a lady of the night paints her face and gussies up to attract customers. Learning that the city had painted itself to please me got me thinking about other components of the city's charm, such as the antique cobblestone paving of many of the streets. Most who come here are so charmed by the ancient look that for our week or month we put up with the risk of sprained ankles. But have decisions to keep the old paving been made not as an expression of modern Mexico's character, which might include a desire for convenience, a smooth ride, fewer stubbed toes, the benefits we seek in our northern roads, but to appeal to tourists' romance of Mexico? Another thing that pleases us gringos about this city is the many restaurants found behind the stone walls, seating in open-air terraces, perhaps around an old fountain. We think of them as exotic Mexican restaurants, an ambiance that can't found in the North. But almost certainly nearly all the restaurants are here for us, not for the great majority of Mexicans. (The minimum wage is $4 a day.) Without us, those restaurants would not be part of the charm of this city. Will the real San Miguel please stand up? Old photos of the pre-1960 city show the whitewashed buildings and burros not yet employed as a tourist attraction. Is that city buried under the colors and the tourist trappings? Tourist town this may be, with gringo second-home owners, but 90 percent or more of the people are Mexican locals. Excavating to discover the real Mexico beneath the tourist veneer, we ask questions about the real life of the people, the politics, religion, and $4 minimum wage way of life of many. But in another sense, there is no "real" San Miguel to be discovered underneath tourism. A tourist destination's self consciousness is a fundamental part of its nature. What is San Miguel really like? To a large extent it's really a city that put itself at the disposal of tourists for the dinero to be had that way. It seems a fundamental contradiction of travel: you go to a far-off place, the whole idea being to get to know an exotic destination, something profoundly different from where you live. But when you look closely, what you get is a reflection of yourself, what you want, what you find appealing. When we visit a tourist destination what we tour is tourism itself. There might be a lesson in here somewhere for a tourist destination like Cape Cod - for tourists and their hosts alike.

mar04 Provincetown

Seashore superintendent joins Provincetown clamming dispute

Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price is joining a chorus of local officials in protesting hydraulic clam dredging off Herring Cove Beach. Price said fishing boats have been using gear that blasts water into the sandy bottom off Herring Cove to extract clams. This dredging loosens up the sand the way a plow loosens dirt in a field, thereby increasing erosion, he said. This year's storms have eroded the north parking lot at Herring Cove to the tune of an estimated $300,000 in repairs, and the season is not over yet, Price said. Every year now, even in calm winters, waves crash on the parking lot and cause damage, he said. The Seashore's long-term plan is to move the parking lot back 125 feet and raise it, a project that will cost about $4 million, he said. The narrow parking lot, built by the state in the 1950s for close-up views of the surf, "is not sustainable," Price said. Hydraulic dredging may be making this erosion happen even more quickly, Price said in a letter he wrote Feb. 27 to Matthew Beaton, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The hydraulic clamming "stirs up the top 18 inches of sand," he wrote. This practice has the effect of "substantially altering or killing most life on the ocean bottom," he wrote. It also loosens the compacted sand at the ocean floor. The sandy bottom right offshore is in water only about 20 to 40 feet deep. But if the sand is loosened there, it could move to a nearby underwater shelf that drops 150 to 180 feet, Price said. Once over that cliff, the sand would no longer be available to buttress Herring Cove's shoreline, he wrote. Price's letter joins protests from the Provincetown Conservation Commission, which ratified enforcement orders against four vessels in January, banning them from hydraulic dredging in that area. A 2007 Conservation Commission regulation prohibits hydraulic clamming. But the boat captains have continued to shellfish because the state Department of Marine Fisheries claims jurisdiction of fishing there, and that state agency has deemed it acceptable. Conservation Commission members and the Provincetown Board of Selectmen argue, however, that it violates the town regulation, which is based on the Wetlands Protection Act and therefore also is under the jurisdiction of state Department of Environmental Protection. In other words, two state agencies' rules seem to be at odds, said Rex McKinsey, Provincetown harbormaster. "People are trying to get these two departments to realize there is a conflict in their regulations," McKinsey said. Monte Rome, owner of the 70-foot clammer the Tom Slaughter, out of Gloucester, said Price was misinformed. The dredging disturbs only about 5 inches of sand, he said. Rome said he would continue to clam out there, as allowed by the state. It's a productive area that is loaded with clams, he added. Rome and other boat owners have about 30 days left to file appeals in Superior Court to the Conservation Commission's enforcement orders, McKinsey said. So far, no one has filed any court challenges, McKinsey said.

mar04 Orleans-Chatham

Orleans and Chatham Barrier Beach

mar04 Brewster

Brewster in the black (maybe)

Brewster's financial crystal ball has cleared to the point where Town Administrator Charles Sumner declared Monday night that the town won't need Proposition 2 1/2 overrides for the next few years. That's not to say voters won't face any overrides this May. Brewster is contemplating overrides for final engineering and design of a new or renovated fire station, six to eight years of road repair work and roof repairs at Nauset Regional Middle School. But the cost of operating the town looks to under the 2.5-percent limit that would trigger an operating override. That's not to say the budget is anywhere close to balanced at the present. It isn't. Estimated town expenses for Fiscal Year 2016 are $43,710,022, assuming the departments meet their budgeting target, which would produce a deficit of $304,946. Sumner and the selectmen would like to keep free cash spending on warrant articles to $750,000 and the town is currently $136,000 over that. But that is the case every year before the selectmen trim requests from the various departments. If they eliminate that, which they usually do, that would wipe out half the deficit. As of Monday, Nauset Regional School District was $97,000 over the 2.5-percent target and the elementary schools were $497,849 over. Assuming they bring their requested increases down to 2.5 percent, and with the town $78,261 under the target then Brewster could have an excess levy capacity of around $300,000. "That's a good position to be in," Sumner said. "Because what we want to do is avoid an operation override." However, the town's numbers don't take into account the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. The Department of Public Works' budget is also still being prepared, as former director Bob Bersin left in January and Natural Resources Director Chris Miller is the acting DPW chief. "We do have a number of departments, fire, golf, council on aging, looking for new personnel," Sumner added. "That would have an effect on the bottom line." So don't carve any of those numbers above in stone. Captains Golf Course has been running a deficit for a number of years and Director of Golf Mark O'Brien said the deficit to the general fund in FY2016 would be just $11,020, down from $115,000 last year and $209,000 the year before. The main cause of the deficits remains the $828,050 in debt service to pay for the $9.7 million course expansion to 36 holes in 1998. That debt will expire in 2020. This year that debt led to a $586,039 transfer from the golf cart receipts reserve fund and $70,000 from the pro shop to the town's general fund to offset a deficit, which would've been $667,000 without the transfers. O'Brien noted that since 1985 the course has returned $5.5 million to the town, hosts many functions, is a tourist draw and should be back in the black once the debt is paid.


mar04 Harwich

Monomoy declares war on taxpayers

Monday night the Monomoy Regional School District declared war on the taxpayers of Harwich, as its superintendent and parents howled about the selectmen's vote to cut $688,200 from the school's FY2016 budget. Superintendent Carpenter showed his hubris in full measure when he publicly threatened to send his own son to Nauset next year if a lacrosse program was not funded. Is this what happens when Cape Cod towns hire out-of-towners to run their school districts? Over the past two years, Monomoy has eliminated every local administrator in favor of off-Cape replacements hired by Mr. Carpenter. The result is a school district that has lost touch with the culture of what was good in the former Chatham and Harwich districts. Mr. Carpenter has made lacrosse the great red herring of the school competition game. He started last year by bragging to the school board that he promised a lacrosse team to a school choice parent in order to recruit her son to Monomoy High School. A few months ago he was criticized by a parent for not implementing lacrosse. Monday he was before the Harwich selectmen implying that a de-funded lacrosse program would cause students, including his own son, to choice out to Nauset. School competition is about more than lacrosse.


mar04 Harwich

Recall Effort Begun Against Harwich Selectman

A recall effort is being organized to unseat Harwich Selectman Peter Hughes over his comments on the school department budget. Hughes has spoken strongly against the increase to the Monomoy School department budget. The budget would require Harwich to pay an additional $688,000 over and above the allowed two-and-a-half percent increase of last year's budget. Flyers were posted on cars in the Harwich Town Hall parking lot last night alerting people to the recall effort, which has a Facebook page. The board voted last week that they would not support any amount in the school budget over and above a two-and-a-half percent, saying the rest of the town departments have to live within the confines of Proposition 2 1/2. Proposition 2 1/2 is the state law that requires any municipal budget increases above two-and-a-half percent to be approved first at town meeting and also by voters at large at the town election. The new Monomoy School District combines the Chatham and Harwich school districts. A new high school for the district opened last year. A standing room only crowd packed into last night's Harwich selectmen's meeting to comment on the school budget issue. Harwich resident Lou Urbano said the town should hold a community forum on the issue of the school budget. Parents, teachers and students urged selectmen to support the higher school budget. A number of Monomoy High School students were among the crowd to urge the board to support the school budget. Students said they would choose to attend other schools if Monomoy's funding is cut to eliminate teachers and programs. Later in the meeting, selectmen discussed the wording of the warrant for the Spring Annual Town Meeting and decided to include language in the warrant so that people in favor of an override tax increase to pay for the higher school budget can vote for it.


Fisheries summit a rallying cry

The big windows at the University of Massachusetts Club, 33 floors up into the Boston skyline, filled like bright blue boxes of a cloudless sky that descended into Boston Harbor. It felt like the world had turned a corner and a long winter was finally drawing to a close. The fishermen, scientists, fishery regulators and environmentalists who slogged through slushy streets and half-cleared sidewalks below could only wish that the summit they were attending Monday had a similar sunny prospect. But this was not a meeting to announce some dramatic turnaround for the beleaguered New England fishing industry. This was a rallying of the troops in advance of a new fishing year in May that promised deeper gloom than the one just past. For the 2015 fishing year, for instance, the Gulf of Maine cod quota has been reduced from 1,550 metric tons to just 386 metric tons. In 1991, fishermen caught more than 17,000 metric tons. The summit was hosted by the Marine Fisheries Institute, a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology and the state Division of Marine Fisheries. The fisheries institute was formed with the idea that bringing scientists and fishermen together might lead to some scientifically based innovations. The hope was that cooperation, not infighting, would turn around the nation's oldest fishery, even as it is beset with increasingly dramatic impacts of global warming and brutal fishing restrictions in the face of the stubborn chronic collapse of iconic species such as cod and flounder. "If we are going to advance, then we are all in this together," U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., told the audience. "The myth we have to break down is that this is an industry that doesn't appreciate the science. They live it, they see it, and they could be more important partners. "As discouraging as it can be that we're not making progress as quickly as we can, if we weren't here working together, it would be so much worse," Keating added. A big part of the problem is cod and some flounder species are nowhere near the population levels predicted by scientists and federal fishery managers despite various tactics employed to reduce the impact fishermen were having on stocks, such as slashing daily limits, overall quotas and fishing days to the bone over the past two decades. Controlling the amount that fishermen could catch was believed to be the single biggest cure for what ailed cod and other groundfish species, many of which were reduced to historic low population levels by the mid-1990s. But now, scientists are convinced that, especially with quotas reduced to the point where many don't go fishing anymore, there are other factors in play. Brian Rothschild, founder and professor emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, pointed out that fishermen are not catching anywhere near the amount of fish scientists say they can safely catch without affecting what they believe is the overall population level. Out of the 70,000 to 100,000 metric tons of fish of all species New England fishermen could have caught annually in the past four years, they have harvested just 20,000 to 30,000 tons. Rothschild estimates that fishermen are losing $350 million a year by not catching those fish. But where are they that they aren't being caught? Are the population estimates off? Are fewer fishermen going out? Is the new quota leasing system affecting how people fish and what they catch? Has global warming dramatically changed the equation? Rothschild said the answers to these questions required a greater level of scientific research than was currently being done, incorporating data from fishermen and scientists beyond those at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole. "We need to make fishery data more transparent," he said. Employing fishermen in doing the field work used to feed numbers into population models would allow the sea sampling to cover more area and get more accurate numbers. "The total area swept by NOAA nets is very small," said David Pierce, deputy director of the state's Division of Marine Fisheries. The major spring and fall surveys of fish stocks cover just two square miles in total of the 36,000 square miles within the Gulf of Maine, he said. Science Center director William Karp agreed that his agency needed to broaden the footprint of its sea sampling even with relatively tight budgets to answer whether the fish are out there. "Something is looking like mortality and it may be or it may not be," Karp said. "Our region is suffering disproportionately from global warming. Fish could be going elsewhere seeking cooler water, they could be producing fewer young, or the young may not be surviving. "Changes to the ecosystem are ones that we understand only partially," Karp said. "We have to understand what is going on out there and we can only do that with scientific partners like fishermen." "We allowed (the fishing) industry and (fishery) management to part ways," said Scituate fisherman Frank Mirarchi. "Each is skeptical of the other." He suggested that fishermen collect data as part of their fishing day, transmitting it in real time, giving scientists data to incorporate into their population analysis and other studies. "We want this to work, and we want it to work really badly," Mirarchi said of the science. "We're as much onboard with this as is the scientific and academic communities." According to state officials at the summit, Massachusetts is onboard. Daniel Sieger, assistant secretary for environment, said Gov. Charlie Baker made rebuilding the fishery one of his environmental priorities. State Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, said $800,000 was earmarked for fisheries research this year, the most ever. And the UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science is on track to build a new research facility that would also house Division of Marine Fisheries scientists and staff.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

mar03 Wellfleet

Post-storm conditions at Newcomb Hollow

We look at weather conditions and fresh snow at Newcomb Hollow in Wellfleet--sure it's beautiful but enough is enough!

mar03 Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro-Provincetown

Flying the National Seashore Feb 28 2015

mar03 Wellfleet

Wellfleet Council on Aging Funtastic Getaway Trips

The Council on Aging has partnered with Funtastic Getaways to offer trips. Coming in March & April, choose from these FIVE trips:

  • Boston Flower Show - March 14th - $65
  • Reagle Players "A Little Bit of Ireland" - Sunday, March 15th - Perfect for St. Patrick's Day weekend - includes lunch and show at the Reagle Music Theater in Waltham - $115
  • "The Sweet Life" - March 27th - Sugar party brunch & tour at Parker's Maple Barn, tour/ candy making at Van Otis Chocolates, wintery tour/tasting at Flagg Hill Winery - $95
  • Newport Playhouse "When The eat's Away" - April 16 - comedy/ cabaret show and full lunch buffet - $98
  • "Art In Bloom" festival of fine art &. fresh flowers - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - April 27 - $75

All trips include deluxe motorcoach transportation from Patriot's Square in Dennis, as well as gratuities for tour director/ driver. Flyers with the details of each trip are ava ilable at the COA or can be emailed to you. Further details also ava ilable on their website at:

mar03 Wellfleet

Cape Cod Intergroup of Overeaters Anonymous to host public info session in Wellfleet

The Cape Cod Intergroup of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) will host a public information session on Sunday, March 22 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Wellfleet Public Library at 55 West Main Street in Wellfleet. The session will feature a short video, member success stories and a question and answer period. According to an OA release, more than 6,500 groups meet weekly in 75 countries. Here on Cape, there are nine meetings from Mashpee to Provincetown. The organization is for anyone struggling with food issues. Members range from those who are extremely overweight, to those who are moderately overweight, average weight or underweight. People also join OA to address anorexic and bulimic behaviors, according to the release. Anyone who feels their eating has had a negative on their health, life or relationships is encouraged to attend. Concerned family members and healthcare professionals are also welcomed. For more information, visit or call the 24-hour hotline at 508-246-1886. More information about Overeaters Anonymous is available at

mar03 Eastham

Parents may meet finalists for Eastham principal

The Eastham Elementary School Principal Search Committee has chosen three finalists for the principal's position and parents may meet each candidate today, Wednesday and Thursday. One candidate per day will be available from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. at the school, according to an announcement from the search committee. Parents also will be able to give feedback to the search committee before a final recommendation is made. The candidates and the days they will be at the school are: Martha Wiley, an assistant principal in the Fitchburg Public Schools, today; Deborah Hammett, a third-grade teacher in Oak Bluffs, Wednesday; and William Crosby, a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Ridge School in Sandwich, Thursday.

mar03 Eastham

Eastham Cumberland Farms Store manager arraigned on larceny charges

The manager of a Cumberland Farms has been charged with stealing the bank deposits over a two-day period last month. Angel L. Collozo, 38, of 64 Beriah Brooks Road, Harwich, was arraigned Monday in Orleans District Court on charges of larceny over $250. He is accused of stealing more than $4,000 in bank deposits from the Cumberland Farms at the Eastham Gulf Station on Route 6. According to the police report, the deposits on Feb. 9 and and Feb. 10 were never put into Seamen's Bank. The missing deposits were $3,025 for Feb. 10 and $1,716 for Feb. 9, according to the report. Witnesses told police Collozo had access to the money on both of those days. Collozo got in a fight with a man who came into the store on Feb. 9. The man entered the store right after Collozo left to make the bank deposit. Before he returned, the man asked a co-worker if Collozo had had time to go to the bank, according to the police report. Collozo returned and a fight ensued. As he was leaving the store, Collozo allegedly told his co-worker two bank deposits were missing from the store. Collozo has been suspended from his job, according to the report. He was released on $500 bail and is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on April 1.

mar03 Truro

Truro Police Weekly arrest report

Provincetown Police report the following arrest for the past week. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

  • On February 27th at 4:38 p.m. Ofc. Steven Raneo arrested Charles Henry Ireland Foltz, 53, of Truro who was charged with: Operating without a license; Marked lanes violation; Unregistered vehicle; Uninsured vehicle.
mar03 Truro-Provincetown

Aquaculture area promises to add to Outer Cape's shellfish standing

When Truro and Provincetown decided to combine 25 acres offshore of each town into a single, 50-acre Aquaculture Development Area in Cape Cod Bay three years ago, it was unclear how and when this decision might affect the local seafood production sector. The net economic losses associated with the collapse of the traditional fishing industry here and elsewhere on the Cape have been substantial, both in terms of dollars and jobs. So, with the ADA, the attempt to identify and establish new sources of seafood-related income could be viewed as an effort to create a more positive alternative to, rather than an actual replacement of, what was once a huge industry here. One thing is sure: the ADA has opened a new chapter in Provincetown and Truro, though its commercial implications are not yet fully realized. That may take years, even decades to come to fruition. Oysters are the top performers when it comes to income generation. The state Div. of Marine Fisheries places a value of more than $12 million on this species alone after a harvest of over 4.1 million pounds in 2013. In Provincetown's ADA it's estimated that so far there are 120,000 shellfish, mostly oysters with some quahogs, and 125,000 oysters in Truro's ADA. One of the most pointed benefits of the Provincetown-Truro ADA and other projects like it is that it facilitates the permitting process for prospective growers. "Typically, an applicant would enter into a lengthy process, starting with locating an area classified by the state as approved for shellfish and then have the state conduct a biological survey to show there were no significant natural resources present such as shellfish beds or eelgrass. Having an area pre-approved makes the process so much easier," said Diane Murphy, fisheries and aquaculture specialist at the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and Woods Hole Sea Grant. "Location is everything in real estate and finding suitable sites for aquaculture is no different. When towns take a proactive stance to formally identify areas for shellfish aquaculture, they help simplify the process for prospective growers. The demand for deeper water aquaculture will only increase as the pool of shallow water and intertidal sites grows more limited," added Murphy. Other towns around the Cape have pursued projects akin to the ADA. And this is one reason the Cape is considered one of the more dynamic aquaculture centers on the East Coast. "The ADA follows similar local efforts to establish aquaculture zones, such as the 31 acres the town of Dennis set aside for aquaculture a number of years ago, which now supports a thriving community of over 30 oyster farmers," said Murphy. "Similarly, Barnstable has a concentration of 50 or more grants spread over 100 acres within its harbor."


mar03 Truro-Provincetown

Offshore shellfish project in Provincetown, Truro sees slow but steady progress

Today, there are four permit holders currently pursuing aquaculture ventures in Provincetown's half, or 25 acres, of the Aquaculture Development Area, and an equal number in Truro's 25-acre section as well. The numbers may seem small, but for the actual participants, the benefits are enormous. Tony Jackett, Truro's harbormaster and shellfish warden (formerly serving both Provincetown and Truro as shellfish warden), estimates that there are 120,000 shellfish, mostly oysters supplemented with quahogs, growing in Provincetown, and 125,000 oysters in Truro's ADA using both floating and bottom culture. "I believe the ADA has given me another way going forward to earn a living on the water as other regulations make it harder to survive. As far as how the ADA is working, well, it is a learning curve like anything new, but it will work out OK," said Bill Souza, a Truro-based lobsterman with Souza Fishing Corp. who is growing oysters in the ADA. He started last spring with 50,000 oyster spat, or seed, and "with some luck" he will have some ready for market this fall. "Since they don't all grow at the same rate, I won't know until fall how well I did," said Souza. Lory Santos chairs Provincetown's shellfish committee. She and her husband, Francis John "Grassy" Santos, also work their four-acre grant in the ADA together using floating gear. They currently grow oysters on two acres as part of their Detail Fish Company. ADA applicants must be approved by the town's shellfish committees and then by the boards of selectmen in their respective towns before their plans are submitted to the state for final approval. "Our oysters are branded and have been trademarked as Long Pointer Oyster," said Santos. "Our floating gear uses concrete blocks weighing upwards of 1,000 lbs. on each end to make sure they hold." Another shellfisherman, David Flattery, is also using floating gear, said Santos. However, until the state Div. of Marine Fisheries decides that the floating gear is safe for whales and turtles, no more of it will be allowed within the ADA. All floating gear is closely monitored by the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown because the risk of marine animal entanglements is so high. "There are also some people who indicated that they were going to grow on the bottom," said Santos. "We experimented with some cages called hotels that hold eight to 12 bags of oysters on the bottom on a raised platform, but they were a bear to pull up and we did not feel the growth was as good. The warmer water near the surface and more food availability makes the floating gear the preferred way to do this," he said. "We started with oysters on racks, but the good growth we are experiencing now with floating gear is a direct result of having the oysters in the water all the time. That's extremely positive and that alone is why more people want to get involved."


mar03 Provincetown

Shipwreck in Provincetown?

Some kind of wreck has surfaced at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown and Cape Cod National Seashore officials are trying to determine what it might be.

mar03 Provincetown

'Provincetown Four' Celebrates The Players Who Revolutionized American Drama

Massachusetts is no stranger to revolutions. We had a rather successful one start here about 240 years back that you might recall. A century ago, another, less bloody, revolution took place on the tip of Cape Cod, when a group of vacationing writers and actors came together to stage a few plays. It was, for American drama, the proverbial "shot heard round the world." The Provincetown Players started small, but during the early decades of the last century, it quickly grew into a real force in the American avant-garde. From its ranks came Pulitzer Prize winners Susan Glaspell and Eugene O'Neill. Meanwhile, the group's influence on the American stage continues to this day. o celebrate the centennial of the seminal troupe's founding, The Empty Space Theater will present four one-acts by the original Players. "Provincetown Four," a two-hour program held from March 9-11, will be acted by students and performed at Roger's Pub in Babson College. "Provincetown Four" goes back to the very beginning, presenting "Suppressed Desires" by Susan Glaspell and George Cram Cook, "Constancy" by Neith Boyce, "Lima Beans" by Alfred Kreymborg, and "Freedom" by John Reed. Each will be featured in an appropriately sparse, rustic set, in keeping with the tradition of that first year out on the wharf in Provincetown. The event celebrates that initial impulse of a century ago, when a group of folks felt there was something missing in what they were seeing on the stage. "Broadway at that point was filled with frothy musicals and somewhat romantic comedies, as well as melodramas," said Beth Wynstra, assistant professor of English at Babson, who will direct "Constancy." "These founding members said these plays don't represent who we are, the subject matter doesn't speak to us. It was that impetus that led to that first summer in Provincetown writing and performing their own plays." The Players came about after a group of writers and artists gathered on July 1915 in the veranda of the PTown cottage rented by Boyce and Hutchins Hapgood for an evening of theater. Boyce presented "Constancy," while the married playwrights Glaspell and Cook staged their "Suppressed Desires." When word spread about this particular evening, so many others wanted to see the plays it necessitated moving the operation to a fish house on the pier. Thus the Players were born, and that fish house became the original Provincetown Playhouse. Glaspell would go on to become a formidable playwright, actress, journalist and novelist, and win the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Many of her fellow Players would also become important members of the theatrical world. The following summer, a young hopeful named Eugene O'Neill joined the ranks of the Players, and later in 1916, the playhouse moved from the tip of the Cape to Greenwich Village, then already a bastion of the bohemian and avant-garde. In short order, the Players began to present truly American plays, written exclusively by native playwrights, that reflected life in the U.S. Some of these works made Broadway, but the radical spirit of the Players never dimmed.


mar03 Provincetown

Provincetown Police Weekly arrest report

Provincetown Police report the following arrest for the past week. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

  • On March 1st at 10:21 a.m. Ofc. Christopher Landry arrested Dustin S. Burch, 31, of Provincetown who was charged with Warrant arrest.
mar03 Brewster

Land deal on Red Top Road in Brewster

The selectmen have approved a conservation restriction, conveyed to the town from the Brewster Conservation Trust, who will hold title on the 1.67 acres off Red Top Road donated by the Birdsey family. The approval provides the Birdsey's with a tax abatement. The property abuts a 50-acre parcel owned by the BCT that connects to another 17-acres. The property is within priority habitat for rare species, core habitat and critical natural landscape, The parcel also has 16-feet of frontage along Red Top Road. "Now we can purchase the entire estate," noted Hal Minis of the BCT. We can preserve a large tract of natural land and maintain the rural character of Stony Brook and red Top Roads.

mar03 Chatham

Chatham Chorale's "Celtic Encore"

For the third straight year, the Chatham Chorale will showcase Celtic-themed music and Cape Cod guest musicians in concerts on St. Patrick's Day weekend. As before, the concerts will take place at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in West Harwich, on Saturday, March 14 at 7:00 pm and Sunday the 15th at 2:00 pm. "This year I've chosen some of the best of the music we've offered in our previous Celtic programs," says Music Director Joseph Marchio, who will lead the 90-voice Chorale, vocal soloists, and Celtic musicians from around the Northeast. They include harpist Maeve Gilchrist, fiddler Rose Clancy, bagpiper Sarah Marchio, and guitarist and singer James Rice. The program includes such well-loved tunes as "Annie Laurie," "Down by the Sally Gardens," "The Galway Piper," and "Danny Boy." The instrumental trio of Clancy, Rice, and Sarah Marchio will perform dances from Ireland and Scotland, while Gilchrist offers her unique, world-music style of harp playing, infused with jazz and Latin as well as Celtic flavors. The Chorale will reprise the stirring Kevin Montgomery arrangement of "Highland Cathedral" (Scotland's unofficial anthem), as well as "The Lord Is My Shepherd" from St. Patrick's Mass by Philip Green (performed in its entirety in 2013). Tickets ($30 reserved/$25 open seating) can be purchased by telephone, 888-556-2707, or at the door the day of the concert. Students and those under 18 admitted free with a ticket (call the number above). For more information, visit

mar03 Harwich

School hockey: Mashpee/Monomoy ousted

Holliston's early goal stands up as Mashpee/Monomoy drops 1-0 heartbreaker. After the early game, postseason jitters wore off of Mashpee/Monomoy goalie Jack Daigneault, the eighth grader was dazzling as he turned aside 21 consecutive shots to finish the game. However, Ethan Bagge's goal just 37 seconds into Sunday's contest was the difference as No. 20 Holliston went on to claim a 1-0 Division 3 South first-round victory over the first-year co-op team at the Gallo Arena. Despite the loss, Monarchs' coach Shawn Chicoine was proud of his team's play, not only on the ice yesterday, but also in coming together and jelling as a cohesive unit during season. "With the season this year coming from two programs that were broken, for the most part, to instill some confidence and get kids interested, get them excited about hockey again, that was the genesis of the season," Chicoine said. Mashpee/Monomoy earned the No. 4 seed in the bracket with a 12-3-1 record, but drew a tough team in Holliston. The Panthers handed the Monarchs their first loss of the season on Feb. 4, a 4-0 decision that was also a tight game until the third period. "The last time we played them it was a 1-0 game until the third, when we started taking some chances to try to tie the game up," said Chicoine." The difference in Sunday's game was a goal that came with a stroke of luck. Holliston's Owen Palmatier took a shot from the right wing, which was tipped by Bagge on the way in. Daigneault got a pad on the puck, but it weakly flipped up and over the goaltender, barely crossing the goal line. "I think we were a little wide-eyed in the first period," said Chicoine, "but then we played pretty well." Holliston kept the pressure on in the first period, peppering Daigneault with 11 more shots, but he kept his team in the game with several excellent stops. However, the Monarchs' offense never got going, plagued by two penalties in the second period and running into hot Holliston goaltender Brad Arvanitis. The senior captain was coming off a 57-save performance in a first-round, shootout victory over Somerset-Berkeley and looked every bit as sharp again on Sunday. Mashpee/Monomoy got its best looks on a power play at the end of the second, which carried over to the third period. Aidan Sullivan rang a shot off the post on a point-blank rebound, which was the closest the Monarchs came to getting the equalizer. Colin Fader had a chance in the final minute with the extra skater on. His went shot went high stick side, but Arvanitis got a blocker on the puck. "Their defense tightened up in the middle, right in front of the net," Chicoine said. "They want all those perimeter shots and we had a lot of blocked shots." Mashpee/Monomoy will lose five seniors to graduation this season, including two members of their top line in Fader and Sullivan. Alex Souza, James Hinesley and Patrick Kampersal are the other three seniors on the team. Chicoine credited those five upperclassmen with laying the groundwork of the first year co-op to what will hopefully become a successful program. "They left their mark with their senior leadership. The guys coming back next year have some shoes to fill," Chicoine said. "I can't say enough about the kids. They're just real positive, class kids who listen and try everything you ask."

mar03 Harwich

Proposed Harwich school budget cuts on agenda

Monomoy Regional School District officials and supporters were not present Feb. 23 when selectmen voted to cut $688,200 from the district's proposed budget for next year. That, along with previous maneuvers that reduced the initial school budget by $1 million, would mean a total of 27 full-time positions cut from the district's teaching staff and administrative staffing. But the public gets another opportunity to comment tonight as the Harwich Board of Selectmen votes to approve the warrant for the May town meeting, said Chairman Larry Ballantine. Selectman Ed McManus was the lone vote opposing the Feb. 23 motion by Peter Hughes that backed a $688,200 cut to the school budget. Of that, $450,000 goes toward municipal services and the remaining amount goes into the town's stabilization fund. Selectmen wanted to avoid asking taxpayers for a Proposition 2 1/2 override when the town had expenses of its own to meet. Selectmen voted for amendment to the school budget because the school budget has to be printed in the town meeting warrant as presented and approved by the school committee, Ballantine said. But the board can amend it on town meeting floor. School officials said the cuts will gut the new regional district's teaching staff and programming, eroding the promise of a better educational system than what could have been achieved as individual town school districts. Ballantine is hoping that the school and selectmen can reach a compromise agreement on the budget before it reaches town meeting. But, he said, his board wanted to put the issue of an override squarely before the voters. Town meeting has a choice of approving the school budget or the selectmen's proposed amendment. Even if the amendment passes, town meeting gets a second opportunity to vote on the matter via an article requesting approval for an override to fund that amount.

mar03 Harwich

Harwich selectmen get an earful over proposed budget cuts

An amendment that proposes a cut in next year's Monomoy School District budget has even the superintendent questioning if he would keep his son in the district. As the public comment period opened at the Harwich Selectmen's meeting Monday night, students, teachers and parents joined Superintendent Scott Carpenter in slamming the board's proposed budget cuts for the school. "I was dismayed by the vote last week by the Harwich Selectmen," he said. The selectmen voted 4-1 on Feb. 23 to cut $688,200 from the district's proposed budget for next year. Carpenter called the cuts "short-sighted" and said it would eliminate 10 full-time positions at the elementary level. Carpenter, who has two children enrolled in the district, worried about the effects the cuts would have on people who were deciding whether to attend Monomoy or other districts, such as Nauset or Sturgis. "'You're going to play lacrosse when you go to high school,'" Carpenter said he told his son. But if the cuts are made, the athletic program in its infancy would most likely be put on the backburner for years to come, he said. "The question is does he play lacrosse here or does he play lacrosse for Nauset? That's the decision that you're putting me in and I think that's the decision you're putting a lot of these families in." Carpenter's speech drew a standing ovation from many in the crowd. Jamison Rushnak, an eighth-grader in the district, said she applied to Sturgis in fear of the budget cuts. "It's not the positions, it's not the teachers, it's the very success of our future leaders that you hold in your hand with this very important decision," she told the board. Brennan McGill, a senior at Monomoy High School, said the cuts would be a detriment to the school and society. "I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people," she said. Selectmen chairman Larry Ballantine pleaded with the crowd to be civil and noted that the public comment period isn't a time to debate with selectmen, but rather a place to offer opinions. A debate could be sought through other avenues, he said. "I appreciate your passion for the subject," he told the crowd. The warrant for the amendment was put forth to "protect the rest of the town," he said. No additions were made to the warrant Monday night, selectman Linda Cebula said. There would likely be a vote next Monday to finalize the warrant, she added.

mar03 Harwich

Investigation Continues Into Harwich Assistant Town Administrator

Selectmen in Harwich will meet this morning in executive session to discuss the investigation into allegations made against Assistant Town Administrator Julie Quintero-Schulz. Quintero-Schulz was placed on paid administrative leave last week after town employees levied allegations against her, according to Larry Ballantine, chairman of the Harwich Board of Selectmen. Ballantine said he cannot comment specifically on the accusations, but he said they are not criminal in nature. The agenda item for the executive session states, "to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual." The session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. "My concern right now is that we step through it very carefully both for Julie's sake and the town's sake," said Ballantine. "I'm being very cautious and working with legal counsel just to be sure that we treat everyone fairly." Ballantine said he first heard of the allegations a week and a half ago."They were serious enough in my mind to contact our lawyer and determine that there's enough to at least make some initial investigation," he said. Quintero-Schulz has held the job since last March. In December, she was appointed acting golf director after the town's golf director and golf pro were placed on leave.


More protection sought for right whales

Offshore activities throughout New England may soon have to be as aware of right whales as we are in Cape Cod Bay. On Feb. 20, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed expanding the critical habitat for the endangered whales (approximately 450 left in the North Atlantic) from 2925 to 21,334 nautical square miles of the Gulf of Maine and south of Cape Cod and 8,611 more nautical square miles off the Georgia Coast. Currently less than 4,000 nautical miles are so designated nationally. A comment period on rule ends April 21. "I think it reflects more accurately the extent of their habitat and some of the observations we've been doing," said Rich Delaney, director of Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. "Our aerial survey team has been finding right whales frequently in the western part of Cape Cod Bay and the large pieces added to the southwest also reflect areas we've seen them. This sets up a mechanism for coordination and consultation among agencies and creates an awareness in ocean users and decision makers." The critical habitat designation means federal agencies must consult with the fisheries service on any actions within the habitat. "It's kind of like a tool," explained Regina Asmutis-Silvia Executive Director of Plymouth-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation, one of the environmental groups that filed a lawsuit last April 10, to push the NMFS rulemakers along. "It's something to look at. Is what you're proposing something that could impact the habitat for the species and if it is how do you mitigate it? It's not shutting down fishing or shipping or preventing humans from utilizing the habitat. You want to look at the bigger picture." "We have been undertaking a review of right whale critical habitat for more than 10 years and while the timing of the release is related to the lawsuit we have been working on this for a long time," noted Jennifer Geobel of NOAA communications office. The right whale was listed as endangered in 1970 and critical habitat including most of Cape Cod Bay, the Great South Channel and Stellwagen Bank was designated in 1994. The New England areas were for feeding, the whales calve off Georgia and Florida. In 2009 NMFS received a petition to revise the critical areas and five years later the Humane Society, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Center for Biological Diversity sued to force action. "We're cautiously optimistic," said Asmutis-Silvia. "I wouldn't say we're satisfied. It's been over six years now. It's been a long process. But I'm happy we're getting someplace." The suggested area's boundaries are roughly from the tip of Monomoy to the Great South Channel, west and then east/northeast to the edge of Georges Bank to the Canadian maritime boundary and back along that to the coast of Maine. The current critical habitat only includes Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen Bank and the Great South Channel. This adds most of the Gulf of Maine and a lot of water east of Cape Cod as well, including all our beach frontage from Provincetown to Chatham.



Cape at pollution 'tipping point' says EPA

Cape communities have until September to get plans in place to clean up the peninsula's nitrogen pollution problem. "This is the opportunity for you to do the right thing by the Cape," said Johanna Hunter, acting director of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's surface water program. Or someone else might. Chris Killian of the Conservation Law Foundation, which sued the EPA for not living up to its obligations under the Clean Water Act on Cape Cod, said this was a "hopeful time." The suit is in abeyance for six month to give Cape towns a window of opportunity to move forward. If they fail, said Killian, litigation is back on and the Cape could end up with an agency akin to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, an agency that controls water and sewer systems for Boston and surrounding communities. It was formed in 1985 to help clean up Boston Harbor and the Conservation Law Foundation, which sued to start that clean up, still reviews reports to see that it is fulfilling its mandate. "We don't want to go there," said Killian, looking at a crowded room filled with half the elected officials on the Cape and many other interested residents. "But I don't see how that outcome can be avoided." The Cape isn't starting from scratch. The Cape Cod Commission, with help from scores of stakeholders on the peninsula, has written a 300-page draft 208 plan - named for a section in the EPA regulations. The plan was first written in 1978, but the suit claims it was never implemented or updated and the Cape's water quality paid the price. At the One Cape Summit at the Cape Cod Resort and Conference Center Wednesday, Paul Niedzwiecki, Cape Cod Commission executive director, provided some quick background on how the Cape reached this crossroads. He said the population of the Cape grew 400 percent from 1950 to 1990. The majority of that growth, 97 percent, took the form of septic systems, which release nitrogen into the groundwater and bays and estuaries. Nitrogen is the primary culprit behind the Cape's water quality problems, causing excessive plant growth which starts a cascade leading to unhealthy waters that don't support shellfish and fish and can ultimately lower property values. The Cape's biggest water quality issues are in spots that are the most developed. "The problem is predominantly a Nantucket Sound problem," Niedzwiecki said. The new plan attempts to outline possible solutions for the Cape's water quality woes, including providing a technological matrix, suggestions to deal with regulatory barriers and opportunities, and some ways to fund a bill that for Harwich alone is pegged at $200 million.


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