Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Planning for a Greener Sandy Island

Ellie Goldberg Jan 2008
Sandy Island http://si.bostonycamps.org/

Many veteran Sandy Island families have fond memories of the deer that used to share the island with us.

Many of us have favorite photos of a deer family or two in a soft shaft of afternoon sunlight taken near the Chapel or Juliet's Point. In my family movies, taken at Sandy twenty years ago, my daughters are hand-feeding Vanilla Wafers to a faun and her mother among the trees behind our cabin.

But the deer were not good for the island. In 1998, students from the University of New Hampshire Department of Natural Resources did an audit of Sandy's Island's natural resources. After evaluating Sandy's forest and wetland management practices and doing an inventory of vegetation, trees and wildlife species, the researchers concluded that the island's 66-acres could not support even a small population of six deer. The deer were eating the understory of bushes and trees.

So the deer had to go.

The report also documented serious erosion and damage in high use areas from vehicle and foot traffic. It recommended a list of changes and improvements to preserve and protect the island, including ways to stabilize the soil by better management of water drainage and soil run-off.

These improvements have been ongoing but are often an invisible and unappreciated part of island operations and management. More visible are the recent infrastructure upgrades and repairs required after the extreme storms that caused major damage in the past few years.

No doubt about it – the climate is changing. The winters in the region are warmer and the duration of ice cover on New Hampshire's lakes has decreased.. On Lake Winnipesaukee, for example, the average ice-out date now occurs eight days earlier than a century ago and the lake ice cover is thinning. This limits the time that trucks and loads of supplies necessary for major repair projects have access to Sandy Island during the winter months.

As you may have read in the past few Grains of Sandy, the Sandy Island Camper Improvement Committee has been discussing our island's ongoing and long term conservation needs – related to people as well as the weather.

We are talking about involving campers and staff in preserving the "nature" of Sandy by reducing our impact on Sandy's fragile ecosystem. According to the 1998 inventory, Sandy was home to twenty species of trees, fourteen shrub species, and a variety of herbacius species such as cinnamon fern, sensitive fern, Canadian dogwood, wood sorrel partridgeberry, sheep laurel, redberry wintergreen, woolgrass, and Virginia Bugleweed. (How many of these are still there? Scavenger hunt, anyone?) To see the amazing list of Sandy Island species look for the UNH report on the shelf in Sandwall Lodge.

We know we can keep costs down by conserving water, electricity and fuel just as many of us doing in our homes and communities. We are also working on quality of life issues. We will be starting a new campaign to promote the "Sandy spirit," the sense of caring and responsibility that we hope will lead to less litter, trash and waste and will better protect the facilities such as the courts and expensive equipment from misuse and damage. Watch for more improvements in our food service, camp store, and many other camp areas and activities.

- 0 -

No comments: