Locally Grown

An Audio Magazine focusing on ideas, events, issues and discussion heard only on WBCR-LP 97.7 Great Barrington. Locally Grown airs Wednesdays at Noon and is then repeated Saturdays at 10:00 am. Please join us.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Visit to the Vernal Pools Adjacent to Lake Mansfield

We recently had the pleasure of a visit to the vernal pools by Lake Mansfield to tape an interview with Suzie Baum from the Lake Mansfield Alliance. We also had the opportunity to capture the sounds of a spring ritual in these Berkshire Hills, Peepers and Wood Frogs. It was a lovely evening, a great interview, and the frogs were in full voice.

The Program also features an interview with the actors/producers involved in mounting the first-ever Berkshire Fringe performance festival. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting new event on the local cultural landscape. Please join us.

The interviews will be heard on Locally Grown in a encore broadcast on Saturday, April 30 at 10:00 am. Thanks for listening, Bye.

Ten Certified Vernal Pools in Great Barrington

According the Commonwealth's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program there are ten certified vernal pools in the Town of Great Barrington. I'm currently trying to find out where they are located.

Vernal Pool Certification

Certification is the procedure by which citizens in Massachusetts can document the existence of a vernal pool. The documentation material is submitted to the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program which then certifies the vernal pool. When a vernal pool has been certified, it receives automatically any protection afforded to vernal pools under the Wetlands Protection Act. If a pool has not been certified prior to a Notice of Intent hearing, then evidence must be provided during that hearing to support the argument that the water body is a vernal pool. Many towns have local Bylaws which further strengthen the wetland regulations pertaining to vernal pools.

Vernal pool certification requires evidence that a vernal pool exists physically and that it contains the biological indicators which define it as a vernal pool. The most obvious and most easily documented indicators are the "obligate species" which can only be observed during the seasons of breeding and development (fall through summer, depending on the species). Spring is generally the best time to document a pool by the obligate species method. In other seasons of the year, evidence for certification can be gathered by documenting the use of the pool by various "facultative species". These are organisms which use various wetlands as well as vernal pools. If they are using a vernal pool and that pool is free of fish, then the pool can be certified. In a similar manner, if a pool is found in the dry condition (fish-free) and it has remains of facultative species, the dry pool can be certified.

In Massachusetts, vernal pools are certified as "existing" by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program based on documentation by citizens. Documentation for vernal pool certification has three components: 1) you must complete and sign the Observation Form, 2) provide Maps that precisely locate the vernal pool, and 3) provide Evidence for the presence of the vernal pool itself and its use by the indicator species. The Evidence will differ depending on both the season of year and the species you use to certify the pool.

For more information, links and forms: http://www.vernalpool.org/macert_3.htm

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Botanical Garden 28th Annual Plant Sale

Two Days Only!
Friday, May 6, 10-5
Saturday, May 7, 9-5
Early Buying: Friday 8-10 a.m., $10 (Members free)

The Berkshire Botanical Garden's 28th Annual Plant Sale will be held Friday and Saturday, May 6 & 7. This years theme is Great Foliage and you'll find a wonderful selection of quality plants, planting ideas and expert advice. Thousands of annuals, perennials, herbs, rare and unusual plants, choice trees and shrubs and much more will be available. Visit the Plant Sale entry on the Events page of the garden's web site for details about the sale or to see the plant list.

P.S. You can help! Volunteers are always needed for the Plant Sale -- its fun and a great way to meet people and help the Garden. Call 413-298-3926 for more information.

The Berkshire Botanical Garden is located at the intersection of Routes 102 & 183 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. For more information call 413-298-3926 or visit the web site at www.berkshirebotanical.org .

Eli Pariser To Give Commencement Address At Simon's Rock College of Bard

Great Barrington - Simon’s Rock College of Bard has announced that Eli Pariser will be the speaker at its 36th Commencement on Saturday, May 14.

Eli Pariser, a Simon’s Rock alumnus, has become a well-known leader in the groundbreaking movement to use the Internet to organize Americans politically. At the age of 20, he created an on-line petition calling for alternatives to a military response to the events of September 11, 2001; within two weeks the petition had been signed by 500,000 people.

His work soon attracted the attention of international news organizations and Wes Boyd at MoveOn, an organization started by Boyd and Joan Blades, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who shared frustration with the partisan politics in Washington D.C.

The websites of Pariser and Boyd soon merged, as did the forces of the activists. Pariser was asked to run international programs for MoveOn, and since that time millions of Americans and others have become acquainted with him through the Internet and public speeches during the buildup to the war in Iraq and during the presidential election of 2004.

In his young career Pariser, now 24 years old and Executive Director of MoveOn.org and MoveOn Pac, has launched several initiatives and raised millions of dollars for the work of the organizations. MoveOn.org primarily focuses on education and advocacy; MoveOn PAC primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect their values.

He directed MoveOn's campaign against the Iraq war, tripling MoveOn's member base in the process; MoveOn now has 2.9 million members. As Executive Director of MoveOn PAC, he raised over $30 million from over 350,000 small donors to run ads, develop a powerful field program, and support progressive candidates from John Kerry on down.

Pariser has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine, Money Magazine, Fortune, Time, Mother Jones, and many other publications, and has appeared on every major cable news channel and television network. In a March 2003 article about Pariser titled “Smart Mobbing the War,” the New York Times Magazine said: “Dot-org politics represents the latest manifestation of a recurrent American faith that there is something inherently good in the vox populi.”

In the same New York Times article, Dennis Kucinich, then Democratic presidential candidate, said: ''Eli has proven we're in a new era of grass-roots activism. The basis for human unity is not just electronic -- the human unity precedes the electronic, and then is furthered by it. Eli represents 'the advancing tide,' which Emerson said 'creates for itself a condition of its own. And the question and the answer are one.'''

In his work at MoveOn, Pariser continues to organize for long-term political action, saying: “Creative power takes time…We’re just getting started. The momentum that began with the anti-war movement is changing American politics. And I do believe it has the potential to change the world.”

Pariser grew up in Camden, Maine, and like many Simon’s Rock students, began his college studies at the age of 15. At the age of 19, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude.

At Simon’s Rock, he helped to organize and then participated in The American Story Project, in which 12 students and new graduates crossed the country in a school bus interviewing ordinary Americans about their political beliefs. He also organized the New England Student Activism conference, campaigned for socially responsible college investing, and wrote his senior thesis on the origin of corporate rights.

Simon's Rock College of Bard is the only four-year college of the liberal arts and sciences specifically designed to provide bright, highly motivated students with the opportunity to begin college in a residential environment after the tenth or eleventh grade. Students who successfully complete the requirements receive the Associate of Arts (AA) degree after two years of study, and the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree after four.

The commencement ceremonies, which are open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m. on the Blodgett Lawn.

Vernal Pool Protection

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act Regulations (310 CMR 10.00), the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards (314 CMR 4.00) used to administer section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, the Massachusetts Environmental Code: Title 5, and the Forest Cutting Practices Act regulations all provide protection to vernal pools that have been officially certified. The regulations for both the Wetlands Protection Act and Forest Cutting Practices Act also provide protection to vernal pools that have not been certified if their occurrence is adequately documented during permit review. Protection under any of these laws requires the following:

1) the vernal pool occurs in an area subject to the jurisdiction of the regulations; and

2) the activities proposed are regulated.

The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act regulations (310 CMR 10.00) protect certified vernal pools and up to 100 feet beyond the boundary of the pool (referred to as the “vernal pool habitat”), by preventing alterations which would result in the reduction of the wildlife habitat value of the certified vernal pool. A certified vernal pool is not automatically protected by these regulations, though. Certified vernal pools must occur within a resource area that comes under the jurisdiction of the Act before they receive protection. Similarly, the 100 feet around the vernal pool must also fall within a resource area, and not in non-jurisdictional upland or the buffer zone of a resource area in order to be protected under the Act. The March, 1996 Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Wetlands Report Alert established a desire within the DEP to protect vernal pools that occur within any jurisdictional wetlands. Although performance standards exist only for vernal pools that occur within Land Subject to Flooding, vernal pools occurring within any wetlands resource area should be protected through the incorporation of appropriate conditions in an Order of Conditions issued by a conservation commission or the DEP.

Vernal pools that are not certified may also be protected by a local conservation commission or the DEP if credible scientific evidence is presented up until the end of the appeals period for a Superseding Order of Conditions issued by the DEP. A conservation commission, or the DEP on appeal, can incorporate protective conditions into an Order of Conditions that would prevent the alteration of the wildlife habitat value of the pool and it’s 100 foot “vernal pool habitat” if they occur within a regulated wetland even though it is not certified.

Each DEP Regional Office has at least one Vernal Pool Liaison who should be contacted for all questions related to the protection of both certified and uncertified vernal pools. Since regulatory authority rests with the Department, they are best able to answer questions about what may or may not happen in or around vernal pools. Your regional liaison may be reached at the following address:

Western Regional Office
State House West, 4th Floor
Springfield, MA 01103

Friday, April 15, 2005

Great Barrington to launch Downtown Recycling Program

The Town of Great Barrington is launching a public recycling program for bottles and cans in its downtown area on Earth Day, April 22nd. Recycling bins for these items will be placed along Main St., Railroad St., and in the Triplex parking area.

In 2003, a group of Great Barrington residents convened to discuss the need for public recycling, prompted by Roberta Wheeler who had just returned from a trip to Montreal where public recycling is common practice. The Center For Ecological Technology (CET) was asked to assist in the matter, and an official recycling committee was formed.

The group's regular participants include; Don Chester, Superintendent, Great Barrington Department of Public Works, Sharon Palma, Executive Director, Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Peter Vallianos; Attorney, Great Barrington, Lisa Federico from the Berkshire Co-op Market and several CET staff.

The recycling committee worked out the necessary logistics, such as what type of bin to use and how the bottles and cans would be collected. The bins posed a challenge as buying them could cost as much as $600 each. CET helped the committee develop some cheaper alternatives that involved re-using and thus recycling some existing containers. Thanks to help from the Railroad Street Youth Project, local students will paint the bins. On February 14th, CET presented the idea to the Great Barrington Selectmen. The Select Board unanimously endorsed the concept.

By implementing a public recycling program, Great Barrington will be leading the way in rural communities' waste management practices. Although recycling is commonplace in many public areas such as airports, National Parks, and train stations, downtown areas rarely offer such a thing.

"This effort promises to be a success because of all the different people helping to make it happen. Residents, businesses, the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the Town and Railroad Street Youth Project have been great partners," said Raya Ariella, CET Waste Management Specialist. "By offering recycling in public places, Great Barrington is sending a clear message that recycling is important and that our community is working to protect the environment."

If you are interested in learning more about the Great Barrington street recycling you can contact Raya Ariella at CET (413)-445-4556 ext 17.