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Atlantic CoastWatch September - October, 2006

Caribbean Storm Stress


News For Coastal Advocates
Recently published, by a consortium of British environmental organizations,
is a riveting analysis of how the combination of climate change and deforestation is z
affecting the lives of the poorest people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Entitled Up in Smoke?, the report serves as a call to action for leaders to take
cognizance of the impact that global warming is having on western hemisphere Caribbean Storm Stress 1
nations.
NJ Scientists Muzzled 1
One chilling example comes from once-lush Haiti, where only 2% of the
land surface remains forested. Once the forest acted as a sponge, absorbing extra Sayings 2
water. Now unprecedented flooding down bare slopes and into overflowing streets
and rivers often accompanies heavy rainfall and tropical storms. Both such events MSX Source Confirmed 3
are exacerbated by climate change, says the study. In May 2004, 36 hours of heavy
rainfall triggered flooding in an area called Belle Anse that killed over 1,000 people
Chesapeake Strategy 3
and caused major property damage.

Amid the influx of bad news comes one encouraging report from hurricane- Publications 4
prone Cuba: “When Hurricane Wilma struck in October 2005, this small island
evacuated 640,000 people from its path, with just one fatality. The sea went one Artificial Reefs 4
kilometer inland and flooded the capital, Havana, yet there were no deaths or even
injuries.” Capt. John Smith Trail 5
(Continued, p. 7)
Changing Vieques 5

NJ Scientists Muzzled $1 Billion Resort Trimmed 6

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Plainsboro, NJ is a small Pilkey Soldiers On 6


branch of NOAA which pioneered computer climate forecast modeling. Since 2001,
scientists from the lab told the Newark Star-Ledger, officials at the Commerce Tropics Approach Maine 7
Department have consistently suppressed position papers and press releases
stemming from their research that connect violent weather events such as hurri-
Courts & the Seashore 7
canes, droughts, and flooding to global warming.

The paper quotes Richard Wetherald, a scientist who spent his career at Wilderness Gains 8
the lab and is now retired, as saying that headquarters had quashed three press
releases announcing results pointing to such links. “I was telling them something z
they didn’t want to hear,” Wetherald told the paper. “But the public is not being
informed when these things are zapped.”
Recurring
Thomas Knutson, another Plainsboro specialist who concludes that global
warming may lead to a greater risk of Category 5 storms, said he had not been People; Awards; Species &
allowed to be interviewed on CNBC last October, or on a national talk TV show Habitats; Restorations;
hosted by Ron Reagan Jr., about the relationship between climate change and Report Cards; Products;
Hurricane Katrina. “I am one of the leading experts in the area,” Knutson told the
Funding
paper, “And I should be allowed to speak about my work.”

These scientists, as well as former lab director Jerry Mahlman, all reported Atlantic CoastWatch is a bimonthly
that the clampdown started in 2001, when the Bush administration rejected the nonprofit newsletter for those con-
Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and has persisted ever since. Star-Ledger efforts cerned with environmentally sound
to obtain reactions from press officials at NOAA, a division of the Commerce development between the Gulf of
Department, resulted mostly in unreturned phone calls. Maine and the eastern Caribbean.
2
Atlantic CoastWatch
Vol. 10, No. 5 Sayings
A project of the Sustainable Nearly everyone living in coastal Georgia has noted how much the area is
Development Institute, which growing. But what do we really know about population growth, which is not
necessarily increasing at the same rate as construction, subdivision, and land
seeks to heighten the environmen-
sales?
tal quality of economic develop-
ment efforts, in coastal regions, by According to a recent article in USA Today about national real estate
communicating information about activity, “Nearly 28% of homes bought last year were for investment purposes, and
better policies and practices. SDI an additional 12% were vacation homes. Most of the buyers were baby boomers in
is classified as a 501(c)(3) organi- their top earning years, looking toward retirement and hoping to build wealth or
zation, exempt from federal find a more desirable place to live. More than three-fourths of the buyers had no
income tax. interest in renting their property. About 20% said it would one day be their retire-
ment home.”
Board of Directors
Assuming these proportions apply here in coastal Georgia, this means that
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chair 40 out of every 100 homes being built are not the primary residence of the buyer,
Robert J. Geniesse, Chair Emeritus and, even stranger perhaps, 30 of those homes will not be rented out by their
Roger D. Stone, President owners, and therefore will be unoccupied.
Dale K. Lipnick, Treasurer
Gay P. Lord, Secretary This means that even if we assume full occupancy of all of the homes
Hart Fessenden constructed that are not bought for investment, resident population is increasing at
Nelse L. Greenway only about 70% of the rate of new housing being permitted. Another wild card is
David P. Hunt how many lots are sold and change hands before they are built upon. Although no
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff research has been done, we have heard reports of many lots in permitted subdivi-
sions standing vacant for years before they are ever needed as homesites. This
Advisers suggests that there is what might be called a “ghost market” for real estate, which
inflates actual demand by adding speculative investment.
William H. Draper, III
Gary Hartshorn This ghost market unnecessarily increases the area of land being pre-
Stephen P. Leatherman pared for sale, bringing a host of related adverse environmental impacts. By
Jerry R. Schubel imposing an artificially urgent demand for real estate, more erosion is being
Christopher Uhl generated, resulting in increased contamination of wetlands and waterways.
Likewise, more natural landscape and drainage features are being altered in ways
Staff that cause flooding of properties already developed.

Roger D. Stone, Director & President But even to the less environmentally conscious, there may be unsettling
Shaw Thacher, Project Manager issues raised by speculation. For instance, of all the apparent demand for roads,
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contr. Editor sewers, and water supply, how much is really needed, where, and when? Providing
Anita Herrick, Correspondent these amenities prematurely can induce still more speculation, since areas served by
public facilities tend to gain greater market value. Thus, a disturbing share of develop-
Foundation Donors ment may be driven as much by financial gaming as by real population growth and
related needs. Much of this imprudent activity is no doubt unintentionally subsidized
Avenir Foundation and condoned by tax-payers when their local governments indulge speculation, or
The Fair Play Foundation even promote it, by readily approving development and new infrastructure.
The Madriver Foundation
The Moore Charitable Foundation As a matter of public policy, elected officials need to give this issue thoughtful
The Curtis and Edith Munson consideration and try to come to grips with their obligation to serve coastal citizens.
Foundation To do this will require the means to carefully distinguish between well-planned growth
The Summit Fund of Washington and unbridled speculation.

Sponsored Project To the greatest extent possible, decisions about land use – and the public
infrastructure that supports it – need to be guided by improved methods of analysis
15th Annual Environmental Film that avoid the pitfalls of the ghost market. Unless new policy is adopted to control
Festival in the Nation’s Capital speculation and its consequences, we can expect still more casual approval of
March 15 - 25, 2007 projects that produce quick profits at the public’s expense.

Featuring screenings of documentary, by David Kyler


feature, archival and animated films. Center for a Sustainable Coast
www.sustainablecoast.org
www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org
Saint Simons ISland, GA
3
People

Scientists Confirm MSX Source The widely admired Caribbean


conservationist Edward Towle, who
for many years toiled indefatigably
About 50 years ago, when the oyster industry in the Delaware and
from modest offices in Washington,
Chesapeake Bays was flourishing, a parasite called MSX mysteriously appeared.
DC and in Red Hook, St. Thomas, died
Invading native oysters called Crassostrea virginica through their gills, the para-
in Washington at age 77. A writer and
sites multiply rapidly. They move through the oyster’s circulatory system and
environmental planner, Towle along
cause death. Though the impact of MSX has waxed and waned over the years,
with his wife Judith founded the Island
with variations in temperatures and salinities, the killer parasite (along with another
Resources Foundation in 1972; Towle
parasitic disease called dermo) have been principal causes of the oyster harvest’s
remained its president until 1998 and
decline in the region to barely 1% of what it had been at its peak.
served thereafter as its board chair-
man. Towle was widely known for his
In early days, scientists studying MSX in Atlantic coastal waters had never
insistence that small islands be seen
seen anything like it before and had no idea where it came from. But in recent
as ecosystems, and that failure to
years, reports Michael W. Fincham in Chesapeake Quarterly, evidence points
recognize the differences between
convincingly to two avenues related to the Japanese oyster Crassostrea gigas,
them and continental systems “has
which had, since the 1930s, been raised along the US West Coast. DNA analysts
unanticipated and too often undesir-
were able to “unmask” the Chesapeake MSX as the same parasite found also in
able consequences for islanders.”
gigas harvested in Pacific waters and experimentally planted in the mid-Atlantic.
Environmental Defense has taken an
MSX, scientists postulate, may also have entered the area from ships
interesting tack in its efforts to arrest
dumping ballast or bilge water into local waters. They note that when MSX first hit
global warming: hiring Republicans to
in the 1950s, what is now referred to as the “Ghost Fleet” of old naval ships in the
persuade other Republicans. One such
James River was composed of active vessels plying Pacific waters during the
is Tucker Eskew, a former adviser to
Korean and Vietnam wars and quite possibly bringing MSX back home. Nothing is
South Carolina’s late Governor Carroll
yet certain, but Fincham reports that the “interim verdict” is that “the MSX
Campbell and more recently an
invasion may have begun with an experiment by an oyster scientist, with a planting
adviser to the Bush administration.
by a grower, with a ballast water release by a ship—or with all of the above in
Now, reports the Island Packet of
several places on several dates.” If the details remain unclear, Fincham cites
Hilton Head and Bluffton, he and two
oyster scientists as expressing no doubt that gigas is the underlying culprit.
other former Carroll staffers, Whit
Ayres and Tony Denny, have signed
Meanwhile, careful Chesapeake experiments with another exotic oyster, C.
on to help get support for Environmen-
ariakensis from China, continue. Researchers keep these oysters isolated in
tal Defense’s national efforts from
hatcheries, says Fincham, “then spawning sterile offspring, and only then trying
conservative Republican leaders in
test plantings in the Bay.” Though this research is controversial, oyster biologist
the South who are also concerned
Gene Burreson of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science said, the MSX disaster
about climate change.
would never have happened if these procedures had been followed with the
Japanese oyster. Thus the unmasking of gigas should not, he feels, be used as a
reason to keep ariakensis out. His own gigas research, he added, “Shows what can Awards
go wrong when you don’t do things right.”
Winner of this year’s top award from
the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
is W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr., until recently
Chesapeake Strategy May Shift Virginia’s secretary of natural re-
sources. In that capacity as well as
The EPA’s Annapolis-based Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates during many years of service as a
state and federal cleanup efforts, has for more than two decades concentrated on member of the state’s House of
science and on crafting goal-setting agreements between the governments in the Delegates, Murphy consistently
watershed. Much has been learned about the sources and effects of the excess worked hard to protect natural
nitrogen and phosphorous that are major contributors to the bay’s ill health. But in resources in his state and around the
recent years, the bay program’s failure to achieve progress toward the pollution Chesapeake—in a political climate not
reduction goals set for 2010 has received wide attention and criticism. always amenable to environmental
stewardship.
In recognition that different approaches may be needed, reports the
Washington Post, the program will start to favor “implementation,” with less time Top winner of a major new award for
and money to be spent studying pollution and a greater emphasis on trying to stop environmental journalism is a 9-
it. Details of the reorganized effort will be decided over the next several months, member reporting team at the New
said program spokesman Mike Burke. While many applauded the idea, others feel Jersey newspaper The Record. The
that the basic problem in still money. The jurisdictions in the watershed “have $75,000 prize was given for the
pressed the federal government for a multi-billion dollar Chesapeake Bay restora- paper’s investigative 2005 series
tion but have gotten nowhere. Said former program director Bill Matuzeski: “We “Toxic Legacy” (Atlantic CoastWatch
know what we have to do. What we don’t want to do is pay for it.” July-August 2006), which traced
4
pollution from a Mahwah, NJ Ford
Motor Company auto assembly plant.
“Environmental watchdog reporting of
the highest order,” stated the jury for Publications
the prize, awarded by the Metcalf
Institute for Marine and Environmen- z New from WIT Press, a major publisher of engineering research, is Intro-
tal Reporting at the University of duction to Coastal Dynamics & Shoreline Protection. The volume, says the
Rhode Island with funding from the publisher, “provides an integrated approach to coastal dynamics and shoreline
Grantham Foundation for the Protec- protection, aided by the use of specific case studies.” The text is suitable for
tion of the Environment. The jurors undergraduate and graduate-level engineers, as well as for those already in
also allocated an “Award of Special practice.
Merit” to WBAL TV in Baltimore for its
“Dirty Secret” series on illegal z In A Tale of Two Dams, environmental scientist Hal Wiggins traces the
dumping by a waste processing plant. lifespans of two infamous Rappahannock River impoundments. One, the Embrey
Dam dates from 1910 and was finally demolished in 2004, after years of struggles
Among winners of the Kodak Ameri- in which Wiggins was a leading advocate. The other, the 240 foot Salem Church
can Greenways Award, sponsored Dam, would, if built over the objections of environmentalists, have flooded a large
jointly by Eastman Kodak, the Na- area and inundated 150 houses for the sake of recreation, water supply, and power.
tional Geographic Society, and The Proposed in the 1970s and immediately controversial, Salem Church was not
Conservation Fund, is retiring US dropped until 1984.
Senator Paul Sarbanes. The senator
was singled out because of his strong z A new thriller by Jessica Speart called Unsafe Harbor (Avon Books 2006)
support for the Capital Crescent- boasts as its heroine Rachel, a US Fish and Wildlife Service agent based in Port
Georgetown Spur Trail in and near Elizabeth, NJ who gets neck-deep into murderous doings based on illegal interna-
Washington, DC and several other tional trade in endangered animal species. Publishers Weekly says we will all want
greenways in the capital region; and to “cheer the gutsy Rachel every step of the way.”
also because of his major involvement
in legislation creating the new Captain z Author, environmental scientist and boat captain Susan Schmidt, who
John Smith Chesapeake National retraced Captain John Smith’s original voyages over five months, has written
Historic Trail (see p.5) Landfall Along the Chesapeake: In the Wake of Captain John Smith (Johns Hopkins
University Press 2006). This sailor’s log is also seen as a field guide to naturalists, a
Winner of a $500,000 “genius” award historical survey, and an environmental wake-up call.
from the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation is Edith
Widder, president and senior scientist
at the Ocean Research & Conserva- Artificial Reefs: Mixed Results
tion Association in Fort Pierce, FL and
adjunct scientist at the Bigelow Since the 1970s it has been fashionable to dump all manner of large-scale
Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in trash into the open sea with the hope of replacing bare sea bottom with good
West Boothbay Harbor, ME. The habitat for fish and other forms of marine life. Old subway cars and large ships—
foundation praised Widder both for including even a World War II aircraft carrier—have been successfully deployed off
the quality and technological innova- various parts of the Atlantic seaboard.
tion of her research as well as her
concern about marine ecosystem But one effort of this sort has come badly a-cropper. Some 35 years ago,
degradation. A specialist in biolumi- authorities began bundling old tires together with nylon cord, and dropping them off
nescence, the light chemically pro- Fort Lauderdale to create fish habitat. Some 2 million tires were released. But
duced by some marine species, she over time the ties came unhitched and strong currents, especially during storms,
has built a number of devices and spread the loose tires over 36 acres of ocean floor. Damage was done to coral
cameras that enable researchers reefs when the tires banged up against them. Some of them have even washed
using and measuring this light to “see ashore.
the ocean in new ways.”
Now Navy divers are attacking the problem, hauling up some 800 of the
Species & Habitats loose tires a day. But at that rate, according to our arithmetic. the cleanup will take
2,500 days or almost 7 years if the divers work 7 days a week.
Just about fully absent from Long
Island Sound as recently as 1979, the Not disheartened, Maryland officials recently dumped large concrete slabs,
double-crested cormorant has made a from the old and recently replaced Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac,
notable comeback in the region, into the Chesapeake Bay off Point No Point on its western shore. The Washington
reports the Connecticut Post. A recent Post cited marine scientists’ observations that the giant concrete units, each 44 feet
count revealed 1,039 mating pairs. long and 12 feet wide, would make excellent habitat for oysters, barnacles, and
But at the same time winter flounder other fouling organisms that would attract fish. As soon as the new reef had been
catches in the region have plum- put in place, fishermen and scientists began reporting positive results. Said one
meted, and some fishermen blame the ecologist, “the oysters love concrete.”
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bird. Said one of them, Bob Kosheff of
Fairfield: “I’ve seen a cormorant take
John Smith Trail Taking Shape a 12-inch flounder, roll it into a ball like
a taco and eat it headfirst.” Though
some would like to kill cormorants for
During a series of voyages covering some 2,500 miles between 1607 and the sake of the fish, scientists say that
1609, Captain John Smith made the first European contact with the Chickahominies the bird is getting a bad rap: other
and others residing in the mid-Atlantic area. He also provided the first written predators such as striped bass eat lots
description of the Chesapeake. To celebrate these and the captain’s many other of flounder too. And since it is the
accomplishments, federal legislation was enacted last year authorizing the National availability of prey species that
Park Service to study the feasibility of a Captain John Smith National Historic controls predator populations and not
Water Trail in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. vice versa, fish biologists argue that
the presence of more cormorants
The study, now complete, concludes that such a trail could provide new signals health for the ecosystem and
opportunities for education, recreation and heritage tourism in the region. The should be applauded.
project has the support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s senior educator Bill
Portlock as well as Randolph Turner, director of the Tidewater Regional Preserva- Back in the 1980s, beach towns on
tion Office of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Both talk about the North Carolina’s Topsail Island
advantage of having people view the Chesapeake region from the water, in order imported from Asia a stubborn plant
to help understand its condition in Smith’s day, and the importance of helping to called beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia)
correct its subsequent degradation. and planted it on dunes to control
erosion. Now this tree-like shrub, able
Management by the National Park Service (NPS) would provide guides as to grow ten feet a year and achieve a
well as coordinate access and interpretation. NPS participation would supplement 12-inch diameter, threatens to
local efforts to foster historical and cultural sites and museums, to include former become what the New Bern Sun
Native American towns. Several hubs along the trail would serve as principal Journal called the “Kudzu of the
orientation points for visitors, largely arriving by water as in Smith’s days, but also Coast,” creeping into back yards,
eventually accessible by road where feasible. For boaters, NOAA would place driving out native plants and damag-
interactive buoys at important sites. ing sea turtle nesting grounds. Control
expert David Nash says there is still a
Establishing this first national historic water trail requires further legislation chance to stamp out the invader, but
by Congress. Supporters hope that this will be accomplished in time to coincide admits it’s a tough job: “It roots so
with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Anticipating that aggressively, you pull until it breaks or
event, Virginia has already established a part of the trail consisting of loops that you break.”
follow Smith’s voyages around the James River.
The South Carolina Coastal Conserva-
tion League reports drops in a number
Vieques on the Cusp of nesting seabird populations. Brown
pelican nests this summer numbered
3,878, up from 2,631 nests last year
In the wake of the US Navy’s reluctant decision to stop using the small but down from the record total 7,739
Caribbean island of Vieques as a bombing range have come many positive changes nests in 1989. Royal terns are down
for its people. The island, near Puerto Rico, has been cleaned up. Much of it has from 17,131 15 years ago to 7,895 this
been converted into a wildlife refuge. Many of the islanders have benefited year. And, continues the league,
economically from a modest upsurge in tourism. “least terns have nearly ceased
breeding on our beaches, with not a
But now, reports editorial writer Mary Ellen Schoonmaker at The Record in single recorded nesting attempt last
North Jersey, the island faces a new threat: a new Area Plan to build 5,000 hotel year.” These declines have been
rooms over the next 15 years, 1,000 of them in the luxury category. The model recorded in the context of exploding
was said to be the nearby, high-end French island St. Bart’s. In Vieques with her populations of “opportunistic omni-
family on vacation, Schoonmaker noted widespread opposition to the plan among vores” such as the laughing gull.
locals fearing that they would be relegated to low-paying jobs while hotel chains
raked in the profits. “This plan,” said one resident, “will be as deadly as the tons of
explosives that the Navy hurled at us.”
Restorations

While debate about the plan continues, Schoonmaker knows where she For decades, officials in New York
stands. “ The Vieques that charmed us is overgrown and lush with flowers and State’s Westchester County have
birds,” she wrote. “ Coquis, the musical tree frogs, perform nightly symphonies. sought ways to make better use of the
The island is quiet and rural. Horses roam free, along with roosters and iguanas. 78-acre Davids Island in western Long
You can have traditional rice and beans and plantains, or the same food taken to a Island Sound off the town of New
gourmet level by a Puerto Rican chef who has worked in Paris, Bali and Miami but Rochelle. Currently the former US
chose to come home and open a tiny restaurant. What happens in the next few Army post consists of derelict build-
years could decide the island’s future. May it never turn into another St. Bart’s.” ings and grounds. Now, with a new
commitment of $9 million in federal
6
money arranged with leadership from
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), local officials
say they have almost all the money to
complete the cleanup and create a Big Maryland Project Trimmed
new park for the county.
On the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore near the town of Cambridge, Mary-
Report Cards land, developer Duane Zentgraf has long sought clearance to proceed with the $1
billion Blackwater Resort project. On 1,080 acres of rural land recently annexed by
Recently a cluster of environmental the city, including farmland and wetlands, Zentgraf proposed to install a hotel and
groups released report cards on how golf complex, 2,700 homes, a conference center and retail shopping facilities. The
much 5 Canadian provinces and project would attract some 10,000 people, nearly doubling the town’s population.
adjacent US states have done to meet
greenhouse gas emissions targets set Opposition surged from many quarters. An aroused Chesapeake Bay
5 years ago. Highest ranking went to Foundation noted that one-third of the land is located in a state-designated “re-
Quebec with a B+. New Hampshire source conservation area” and that the project threatened to do severe damage to
won the lowest score, a D+. Prince the adjacent Little Blackwater River, which feeds into the major Blackwater
Edward Island (B-) received praise for National Wildlife Refuge, and the bay itself. Farmers on adjacent lands expressed
a new public transportation system concern about pollution affecting their livelihoods. Demonstrators waved “Stop
and increasing use of windpower. the Resort” placards. One poll showed more than 70% against it.
Nova Scotia rated only a C, but could,
said environmentalists, still meet 2010 Nonetheless, with an eye to the increase in the tax base that the project
goals by investing in public transporta- would bring, and support from some businesspeople and job-hungry citizens, local
tion and offering incentives for politicians ignored the pleas of those Zentgraf’s lawyer referred to as “Birkenstock
energy-efficient vehicles. knuckleheads” and rubber-stamped their approval in August.

Gloomy Mainers have few positive Accusing the town of selling its soul, the Baltimore Sun also noted that the
things to say about their state’s and project still needed approval from the state’s Critical Area Commission, which is
the planet’s environmental condition, empowered to review projects in sensitive waterfront locations. In a recent ruling,
according to poll results released by that commission warmed many hearts by voting 22-0 to block a “growth allocation
the Portland-based firm Market designation” for 313 acres of the land near the refuge. The decision means that
Decisions. 61% of them find the Zentgraf would need to scale down many aspects of his project and redesign or
Maine environment “much worse” or even scrub the golf course. Meanwhile, given the resort project’s unpopularity
“somewhat worse” than 10 years among locals in an election year, rumors swirled about the possibility of a buyout of
ago. 85% agree that global warming the land that would involved state-provided funds.
is “probably happening,” and 47% (vs.
40% nationally) find this to be “ex-
tremely important.” 78%, again a Pilkey Soldiers On
higher number than nationally, feel
that global weather patterns have
In Machipongo on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to promote his 24th and latest
become less stable during the past
book, veteran coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey Jr. did not fail to take the opportunity to
three years. A reason underlying
preach his gospel as stridently as ever. An ardent believer in leaving barrier
these pointed reactions, suggested
islands and shorelines alone and letting them wander as they will, Pilkey scorns
local climatologist Greg Zielinski in a
efforts at coastal armoring efforts. He favors sharp restrictions on shorefront
Bangor Daily News interview, may be
development. “If I were king of Virginia, you’d all move back,” he told a silent
that “Mainers as a whole tend to be
audience. “But I’m not the king, so don’t worry.”
more interested in or in touch with the
natural world than many people in
Interviewed by Virginian-Pilot reporter Scott Harper, Pilkey “unleashed
other areas of the country.”
some trademark barbs.” Among them:
According to a new report from the
z Seawalls are “evil.”
Natural Resources Council of Maine
z The US Army Corps of Engineers is “stupid” and “destructive.”
(NRCM), the state’s residents indeed
z Coastal engineers who design seawalls and other such structures are
have a lot to worry about if major sea-
“deceitful” and “pretty despicable.”
level rise occurs. Working in partner-
z New inlets created during storms, such as those which opened up along
ship with the geographic information
North Carolina’s Outer Banks during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, should be
systems department at Colby College,
allowed to remain open rather than be plugged up.
NRCM analyzed the prospective
z Beach nourishment should be funded locally with no federal input.
consequences of a 3-foot rise scenario
during the current century, and of a
At 71, Harper reports, Pilkey shows no sign of slowing down and “contin-
20-foot rise. Just the more modest
ues to travel the globe, write, research, and lobby governments.” He is planning to
projection of 3 feet, now set as what
publish his next book in December. Concerning the feasibility studies that advance
NRCM energy project director Dylan
shore “stabilizing” projects, the book is tentatively titled Useless Arithmetic.
7
Voorhees called “the middle range of
what might occur due to global
warming,” would inundate more than
Caribbean Storm Stress, cont’d from p. 1 20,000 acres of coastal Maine. The
20-foot rise would flood more than
This is the latest example of a stellar Cuban disaster-reduction perfor- 128,000 acres including 1,000 acres of
mance record built up over many years, the report continues. The achievements downtown Portland. NRCM says that
are based on numerous ”tangible assets” including “a strong, well organized civil its findings represent a “conservative
defense, an efficient early warning system, well equipped rescue teams, emer- estimate of impact.”
gency stockpiles and other resources,” and “intangible assets” such as effective
local leadership, community mobilization, and a “disaster-aware” population. Products
Explained civil defense official Jose Castro: “Any child in school can give A green car does not have to be a
you an explanation—how you prepare, what you do in each phase, how to gather hybrid, says the 2006 Alternative
things in the house and put them away, shut off the water and electricity. All Powertrain Study recently issued by
students, workers and campesinos get this training.” Each year the entire nation the research firm J.D. Power and
participates in a two day hurricane risk reduction exercise. Associates. Its report lists the 30 most
environmentally friendly vehicles,
“It is remarkable,” adds the report, “That Cuba’s economic crisis and the ranked according to EPA data on fuel
embargo by the US have not noticeably increased its people’s vulnerability to economy, air pollution, and green-
hazards. In many other countries, as witnessed when Hurricane Katrina devastated house emissions. It does indeed
New Orleans, hazards like hurricanes and earthquakes only turn into disasters—the include 8 hybrids: Ford Escape Hybrid;
large-scale loss of lives and livelihoods—because of inequity, because the poorest Honda Accord Hybrid, Civic Hybrid
and most vulnerable are left to fend for themselves.” and Insight; Lexus RX400h; Mercury
Mariner Hybrid; and Toyota High-
lander Hybrid and Prius. But, to
Tropics Approach Maine reassure green consumers worried
about paying $3,000 to $10,000 more
for a hybrid than for a comparable
Adding to the pleasures for sport fishermen is the appearance in Rhode
conventional car, the study offers
Island waters of schools of tarpon, a hard-fighting game species that usually
consolation. Also among the top-30
frequent the waters of Florida and points south. Last summer water temperatures
are these traditional gas powered
in the high 70s brought with them not only tarpon, but numerous other tropical fish
models: Acura RSX; Chevrolet Aveo
species including cobia and triggerfish.
and Cobalt; Ford Focus and Focus
wagon; Honda Accord and Civic;
Maine fishermen hope the trend will continue northward. In the Kennebec
Hyundai Accent and Elantra; Kia Rio
Journal, angler Ken Allen noted the growing presence in Maine of many bird and
and Spectra; Mazda3 and MazdaMX-5;
animal species that had been all but absent until recently. But, he added, “Out of all
Nissan Sentra; Saturn Ion; Scion xA;
these newcomers to New England, the one that excited me most is tarpon. Anyone
Suzuki Reno; Toyota Camry and
who tangles with tarpon no longer looks at striped bass in the same manner.
Corolla; and Volkswagen Golf, Jetta,
Tarpon have rocket-boosters for fins that routinely take them 10 feet into the air,
and New Beetle.
and they can swim a quarter mile in a flash. This species is the real deal.”

Further positive news for Maine anglers is the opening of the Penobscot Funding
River, for the first time in 7 years, to salmon fishing. The entire population there is
only about 1000 fish, but that is up from a low of 530 Penobscot salmon in 2000 and The Gulf of Maine Research Institute
deemed sufficient to justify a brief catch-and-release season limited to barbless (GMRI), which seeks to improve
hooks and other restrictions. knowledge and understanding of that
ecosystem, recently received a
research grant of $486,819 from the
Courts & the Seashore state’s Maine Marine Research Fund.
Monies from this source, as well as
from a $500,000 grant from the Libra
In what the Philadelphia Inquirer calls “one of the most important cases Foundation, will enable GMRI to build
ever to come before the court,” the US Supreme Court on November 29 will hear an international marine research and
arguments leading to a decision as to whether the EPA “has the authority to education center on Portland’s
regulate greenhouse gases.” The case, Massachusetts vs. EPA, challenges the working waterfront and thus also
agency’s refusal to enforce sections of the Clean Air Act having to do with pollut- increase the viability of the waterfront
ants affecting weather and the climate. The dangers mentioned include sea level itself.
rise leading to “permanent loss of coastal land” and “more frequent and severe
storm surge flood events.” Environmentalists, climatologists, and some energy Long Island Sound conservation got a
companies hoping for consistency rather than the emerging patchwork of state big boost in the waning days of the
regulations, eagerly await the court’s ruling in several months. current US Congress when both
Atlantic CoastWatch
Sustainable Development Institute
3121 South St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Tel: (202) 338-1017


Fax: (202) 337-9639
E-mail: susdev@igc.org
URL: www.susdev.org
www.atlanticcoastwatch.org

Tax-deductible contributions for Atlantic CoastWatch are urgently needed.

houses passed the Long Island


Sound Conservation Act. The Major New Wilderness Gains
legislation earmarks protection for
areas of special significance along From Florida, New Jersey and Maine comes news of better protection for
the Sound shoreline such as Long significant increments of wilderness land.
Island’s Nissequogue River, still a
habitat for brown trout. “As a body Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush and his Cabinet, reports the Daytona Beach News-
of water shared by two states,” Journal, have approved the $50 million purchase of some 4,570 acres of scrub terrain
said Newsday, “It’s a natural for a and wetlands in central Florida. This so-called Joshua Creek Conservation Area will
national investment.” Now, the almost double the size of the Little-Big Econ State Forest. The Bush team has also
paper continued, the principal tasks approved $2.3 million to purchase 80 acres of land to add to the Brevard Coastal
are to get President Bush to sign Ecosystem preserve near the Indian River Lagoon.
the law, name the right people to
the Long Island Sound Stewardship Comprehensive federal legislation to project 800,000 acres of sensitive High-
Advisory Committee that will lands land in New Jersey was widely hailed when it became law in 2004. Now, reports
oversee the program—and make the Record, come complaints that a key element of the program, a transfer of develop-
sure that Congress actually appro- ment rights plan to compensate landholders newly unable to build on their property, will
priates the authorized $25 million as now structured benefit only a few of them. Still, the paper continued, total federal,
for each of the next 4 years. state, and local funding has now hit about $75 million a year—enough to buy 5,000
acres a year. “The good news,” said New Jersey Highlands Council member Ross
This year, according to another MacDonald, “Is there is money out there.”
report from Newsday, Shell Oil
donated $130,500 to the federally In Maine’s southern midcoast region, the Maine chapter of The Nature Conser-
controlled Long Island Sound vancy announced that it had been given a 1,910 acre parcel along the New Meadows
Futures Fund. The intended uses of River—one of the largest undeveloped coastal properties anywhere in the state. The
the money, to be administered via property, valued at between $10 million and $14 million, encompasses 4 miles of
the National Fish and Wildlife shoreline, a mountain, and one of the region’s most productive clam flats. The donation
Foundation, include eelgrass was made by local resident Richard L. Hatch, who had hoped to remain anonymous in
restoration, protection for piping spite of the public property tax records that quickly revealed his identity. The Maine
plover habitat, and training volun- Conservancy, which said that this donation is the largest in its history, will protect
teers for whale and sea turtle wildlife habitat on the property but will also allow recreational uses.
surveys. But Long Island’s Citizens
Campaign for the Environment
sees an ulterior motive: an corpo-
rate effort to gain support for the With Appreciation
massive mid-Sound LNG terminal
proposed by its subsidiary Our special thanks to the Catto Charitable Foundation for continuing its
Broadwater Energy. Said Adrienne generous support for our work, and great appreciation to these other recent donors:
Esposito of the campaign, which
opposes the terminal: “It’s not Arthur A. Birney Rob and Peggy Leeson
about protecting the sound, it’s Connecticut Conservation Association Herbert and Enid C.B. Okun
about gaining access to owning the Marion S. Guggenheim Ann Stone
sound.” Sandra I. van Heerden Terry and Elsa Williams