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2015 Winter Newsletter

APCC is thrilled to announce that we are in the midst of acquiring a permanent home. The new home should help make APCC more visible as well as more helpful to Cape residents. For many residents and visitors on the Cape, APCC is their ever-reliable watchdog. APCC is an insurance policy promising that someone is always watching to prevent further degradation of the Cape’s natural beauty. With a new home we are expanding our toolbox to be more effective, more impactful and more prominent. Recently we instituted a Restoration Coordination Center to help communities build capacity to restore water quality and natural infrastructure. For over forty years APCC has advocated for native landscapes without a place to show how to go native. Our education and outreach efforts have been confined to borrowed or rented meeting rooms.

The property is in Dennis Village on Route 6A. It consists of a 19th century saltbox main building, an early 20th century post and beam barn and a small work shed sited on 1.38 acres of land. The acquisition allows APCC to expand its reach and demonstrate how to live sustainably. We are fortunate to have received a grant to help cover a down payment.

Our vision includes:

Converting the barn into an educational center. The barn will make an ideal meeting space to expand and carry out our educational mission. APCC plans to modernize the barn consistent with modern energy technologies. Our goal is to make the facility carbon neutral or even better. We want the facility itself to be part of the APCC education mission to live sustainably and be good stewards. The space will be available to other nonprofits and will be a community resource. This facility will enable us to be more creative and offer a more robust educational outreach program.

Establishing a showcase for modern native landscape design. The property can serve as a living laboratory for integrating native landscape design and stormwater management by transforming it into a haven for pollinators and a living laboratory of water quality enhancements. As part of our educational outreach, we want to show engineers, landscape architects, landscapers and homeowners how stormwater management and landscape design can work to promote a sustainable, aesthetically pleasing environment.

Upgrading the main house into efficient office space. The main house, which is in excellent condition, will provide adequate space for present and future office needs. It is an upgrade of space from our current second floor rental space.

We hope to close on the property in the coming months and will provide regular updates.

In the wake of Entergy’s announcement this fall that it intends to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station by 2019, APCC has once again called for ongoing rigorous scrutiny of the plant’s performance while still in operation and the adoption of measures to ensure proper cleanup of the site after the plant is decommissioned.

APCC recently submitted testimony to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in support of two bills filed by Sen. Daniel Wolf that would place greater financial responsibility on Pilgrim’s owner for the decommissioning and cleanup process.

Senate Bill 1797, An Act Establishing a Fee on the Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Pools, creates a fee based on the number of spent fuel rods stored in water pools at a nuclear plant in order to encourage better storage practices. Wet storage in pools is intended as a short term means to cool and store nuclear waste, while dry cask storage is the established best management practice for more permanent, safe and reliable storage. Senate Bill 1797 is an economic incentive for nuclear power plant operators to avoid the imposition of costly fees by using best management practices for storing spent fuel rods. 

Senate Bill 1798, An Act Establishing Funding to Provide Moneys for Postclosure Activities at Nuclear Power Stations, requires nuclear power plant operators to pay an annual $25 million fee into a trust fund dedicated to the costs of cleanup after a nuclear plant ceases operation. The decommissioning funds currently allocated by the owner of Pilgrim Station are inadequate to cover the anticipated cost of shutting down the plant and cleaning up the site. Without a means of securing sufficient funds from the plant operator, paying for a complete cleanup of the site may be left to Massachusetts taxpayers.

Last year, APCC published a position statement that examined potential threats from Pilgrim to the Cape’s environment, particularly if an accident should occur at the plant. At that time, APCC concluded that Pilgrim’s permits should be terminated and the facility should be decommissioned. APCC provided a list of recommendations for the decommissioning process directed at public officials and regulatory agencies. Now that the Pilgrim plant’s closure has been announced, APCC reiterates those recommendations. They are:

  • Provide full regulatory oversight of the decommissioning process, including implementation of safeguards to protect public health and the environment before, during and after the decommissioning process, as outlined in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s process for decommissioning.
  • Require storage of all spent fuel rods in dry cask storage, which represents the safest storage system in the absence of a national repository.
  • Implement a radiation monitoring system on Cape Cod that includes monitoring of air, water, fish and shellfish, with reports to the public on a regular basis.
  • Expand emergency planning throughout the 50-mile radius zone to protect Cape Cod’s residents and natural resources.
  • Find safer and less polluting alternative energy sources for Pilgrim’s customers. Replacing nuclear energy with greenhouse gas-producing energy sources such as natural gas or other fossil fuels is not a satisfactory long-term solution, as climate change is also impacting the environment.
  • Support scientific research on the effects of radiation on ecosystems.
  • Form an independent commission to oversee decommissioning of Pilgrim, to review progress and to identify problems to be addressed to help ensure safe and effective decommissioning.

APCC will continue to be a leading voice in calling for stringent environmental protection standards to be followed throughout the decommissioning process. To read APCC’s 2014 position statement on Pilgrim in its entirety, go to www.apcc.org/positionstatements.

The 2015 estimated total run sizes for 15 Cape Cod herring runs have been calculated and are now available. APCC coordinates several volunteer herring counting programs and assists other organizations in setting up their own counts. This past spring, over 200 volunteers helped count river herring along these runs. How did the runs do?

There were four runs where run size exceeded 100,000 fish: Stony Brook in Brewster, Mashpee River in Mashpee, Herring River in Harwich and Santuit River in Mashpee. Seven runs were in the 10,000-100,000 range: Coonamessett River in Falmouth, Tom Mathews Pond in Yarmouth, Bound Brook in Dennis, Marstons Mills River in Barnstable, Herring River in Wellfleet, Cedar Lake in Orleans and Quashnet River in Mashpee. Two runs were in the 1,000 to 10,000 range: Pilgrim Lake in Orleans and Herring Brook in Eastham. Two runs (Red Lily Pond in Barnstable, Scargo Lake in Dennis) had counts too low to calculate run size.

Herring counts can help document the success of restoration work. In general, the larger runs occur where restoration work has been done. Stony Brook, which was restored in 2010, has seen the largest increase in run size since then, an order of magnitude greater after restoration.

On a regional basis, river herring populations are still low and need protection. Also, year-to-year changes are less important than the long-term trend over several years. For run sizes from previous years, please visit our website at www.apcc.org/herring and click on the table entitled “Summary of Volunteer Herring Counts, Cape Cod, 2007-2015.” For more information, contact Dr. Jo Ann Muramoto at jmuramoto@apcc.org or (508) 362-4226 ext. 16.

2015 River Herring Run Estimates

Runs marked with an “R” have been restored, while those in need of restoration are marked with an “N.”

Stony Brook (Brewster) 251,530 herring (down from 2014) R
Mashpee River (Mashpee) 206,863 (down from 2014) R
MasHerring River (Harwich) 127,860 (down from 2014) R
Santuit River (Mashpee) 119,182 (up from 2014) R
Coonamessett River (Falmouth) 74,595 (awaiting restoration) N
Tom Mathews Pond (Yarmouth) 52,742 (down from 2015) R
Bound Brook (Dennis) 25,817 (up from 2014)
Marstons Mills River (Barnstable) 23,840 (down from 2014) N
Herring River (Wellfleet) 18,025 (down from 2014) N
Cedar Lake (Falmouth) 16,163 (up from previous years) R
Quashnet River (Mashpee) 14,256 (down from 2014) N
Pilgrim Lake (Orleans) 4,245 (up from 2014) R, N
Herring Brook (Eastham) 3,204 (down from 2014) R
Red Lily Pond (Barnstable) Counts too low to calculate run size N
Scargo Lake (Dennis) Counts too low to calculate run size N

It’s only December but APCC is already planning volunteer herring counts for the spring of 2016! There are at least 15 volunteer count programs on Cape Cod and next spring we plan to add two more count programs, in Chatham and Barnstable. Our goal is to start training volunteers beginning in late February so that everyone is ready to start counts by April 1.

Herring counts are easy to do and provide valuable data that help the protection, management and restoration of herring and their habitat.

Volunteers are needed to count herring along runs in Barnstable, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich. In addition, APCC works with partners who manage herring counts in Yarmouth, Harwich, Orleans and Wellfleet. If you’re interested in counting, please contact Dr. Jo Ann Muramoto at jmuramoto@apcc.org or (508) 362-4226 ext. 16. For more information on herring counts, visit www.apcc.org/herring.

APCC’s new director of education and outreach takes aim at increasing environmental awareness

Kristin Andres has joined the APCC team as the organization’s director of education and outreach. In that role, Kristin will be responsible for developing educational programming and materials related to APCC’s mission and will serve as APCC’s liaison to the Cape Cod community.

In the months ahead, Kristin will be busy forging relationships with a wide range of organizations, government agencies, schools and the public in assessing and addressing educational needs related to conserving and protecting the Cape’s natural resources. Already, she is in the process of planning workshops on a variety of subjects. She also hopes to create educational programs that will bring people outdoors.

“I believe that the more we learn about the fascinating intricacies of nature, the more likely we will find appreciation of our natural world, so I hope to organize experiential outdoor events, including water excursions and organized interpretive walks around the Cape, and to collaborate with other organizations on projects with an educational element,” she explains.

One particular area of focus will be to further develop APCC’s native plant initiative, including promoting the use of native plant species, identifying and controlling invasives, planting rain gardens to manage stormwater and adopting ecologically-friendly landscaping that is pesticide-free. She hopes to organize a native plant and ecological land care conference in the near future.

Kristin comes to APCC with an impressive resume of professional and personal experience in the environmental field. For the past 15 years, she was the town of Chatham’s first conservation agent, working closely with the town conservation commission, land bank open space committee and other town committees. She organized many environmental education workshops and lectures on wetland regulations, native plants, invasive species, vernal pools, conservation land management, coastal processes, erosion control methods and other subjects.

Kristin also sits on the board of directors of numerous environmentally-oriented organizations both on and off the Cape, including, until recently, APCC’s board of directors where she served as vice president.

Although brimming with ideas for expanding APCC’s education and outreach efforts, Kristin is also eager to know what subjects and issue areas APCC members and the public would like to learn about. She encourages individuals and organizations to contact her with suggestions at 508-362-4226 ext. 17 or kandres@apcc.org.

The coastal salt ponds of Cape Cod feature a unique mix of flora and fauna, thanks to the ponds’ characteristic mingling of freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Most of Massachusetts’ coastal salt ponds are found along Buzzards Bay, the Islands and the southern shoreline of Cape Cod, although several are located in other areas of the Cape. Typically, salt ponds are shallow water bodies that form behind the shifting sands of barrier beaches. They are fed by freshwater from groundwater, streams and runoff at the head of the pond, and by saltwater from the sea.

Although mostly cut off from the ocean by surrounding upland, dynamic coastal action along the barrier beach side of the pond results in periodic opening and closing of access to the ocean. This, along with occasional overwash of the ocean during storms, causes fluctuations in the salinity levels of the pond. The area of the pond closer to the influence of tides and ocean has the highest salinity levels. Salinity decreases farther up the pond as the presence of freshwater increases.

This dual freshwater/saltwater environment within coastal salt ponds supports two distinct communities of life. In the upper, lower-salinity reaches of the pond, freshwater plant species that can survive in brackish conditions can be found growing along the pond’s marshy edges. As salinity levels increase closer to the ocean, pond life transitions to saltwater plant species. Animal life, in the form of fish, shellfish and other invertebrates, are also found according to their tolerance of freshwater or saltwater influences within the pond.

Typical threats to salt ponds include invasive species and overuse, but the greatest impact to their health too often comes from excess nitrogen from septic systems and fertilizers. The natural physical restrictions of tidal flow in coastal salt ponds limit their ability to effectively flush out nitrogen concentrations. The nutrient buildup spawns algal blooms, which deplete oxygen levels within the pond, destroy aquatic plant communities and shellfish beds, and can ultimately lead to fish kills.

The year 2015 saw the passing of two members of the APCC family

Dorothy Pearson passed away in April at the age of 81. From 1993 to 2003, Dorothy, known as Dottie, was on staff in the position of director’s assistant during the tenure of two APCC executive directors. As anyone who knew her could attest, she could always be relied upon for her calm and grace under pressure. After her retirement in 2003, she continued her close ties to APCC by hosting yearly gatherings for staff and volunteers. Her main passion, though, was her family, which included her husband, Dave, their eight children plus spouses, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

For 18 years, Everett Kiefer was the “voice” of APCC. In addition to having other essential responsibilities that helped keep the organization running smoothly, Everett was the person who answered the phone and greeted office visitors for all those years. As such, he was regarded by many as an APCC institution. He came to the organization in 1993 after retiring from his law practice in Chatham. During his time here and even after his retirement in 2011, other APCC staff lived vicariously—and enviously—through his many world travel adventures. Everett passed away in October. He was 81.

APCC winter 2015 newsletter APCC summer 2015 newsletter APCC spring 2015 newsletter APCC winter 2015 newsletter APCC newsletter summer 2014 APCC newsletter spring 2014 APCC newsletter archive