Save the shade trees

To the Editor:

The MVC’s Climate Action Task Force has a good selection of capable people who are looking at the issue of energy use, and the direction and goals are fine for what they are; however, there are some issues that should be addressed that this task force is not dealing with.

VTA buses — currently these buses run nearly empty, and often completely empty, and are very large. Why is this allowed? There is the matter of the shared use path on Beach Road, and how it is impacting the town of Tisbury and the Island if it goes ahead as planned. Although cycling is key to energy use, this plan from the commission is actually the opposite of what should be done. Consider the tree landscape on Beach Road, and how this will decimate the shade trees. Now, the argument for doing this is that it will increase cycling and is worth the cost, but the social and environmental cost of removing shade trees is more than a financial equation. 

Also, the SUP as designed will impact businesses negatively, and this has not been considered because no study or DRI by the commission has been permitted to be performed. Replacing permeable land with natural vegetation, and paving over it, is damaging to the road, as it increases flooding, and this has not been considered by the commission, which now presents a plan that hopes to be carbon-neutral by the year 2040. Although a lofty goal, we must consider all aspects of the commission structure which decides whenever a DRI or study is to be allowed, and in the case of a project developed by the commission, they have proved that they will not allow any serious study of their plans, and this means that impacts are not considered carefully or at all. 

There is another issue — energy use is a chronic problem, with an existential threat to the future of humanity. Martha’s Vineyard will not stave off extinction by any action it takes, and it may be that we have already passed the point of no return where biological/environmental feedback loops are out of our control. Certainly by the year 2030, it is estimated that we will have reached that point, if not already. Therefore, I would like to suggest that saving shade trees should be of the highest priority, above all else. In fact, if anything, an emphasis should be placed on planting more trees, and especially where absorbing water and cleansing the environment of pollutants from energy sources, including marine use such as power boats, our SSA transportation system, and trucking.


Frank Brunelle
Vineyard Haven


  1. I second Frank’s comments.
    A community that is serious about energy efficiency and environmental impacts does not cut down a stand of shade trees whose foliage removes Co2 from the air and puts back oxygen. Especially where there is another, better, shovel-ready option. After this spring’s heavy rains, the trees along Beach Road are looking very nice. They should be cared for by a professional town arborist (Tisbury does have an arborist, right? I hope . . .) and integrated into a plan for sidewalks that will be immeasurably enhanced by the trees.

    Cutting down trees to make way for a few bikers is classic robbing Peter to pay Paul. Like the Norway spruce at Island Elderly Housing, the trees are an asset, not a problem. And how about some consideration for walkers? The walk to the bridge and back is a very nice daily routine. More people, including tourists, elderly, mothers with children, and people with disabilities will enjoy this walk if enticed by a decent walkway shaded by attractive trees.

  2. Agree with the previous commenter.
    Shade trees are living beings just like you and me. Most of them have lived far longer than you and have seen a thing or two. If a tree is mature enough to give you shade, it has taken decades to be able to do offer this gift. Trees ought be respected and protected. Do NOT kill trees. To kill a tree is to murder a living being. Save the trees and love each one like a brother, a sister or a grandparent. Respect your elders! ( And oaks, and maple, and pine and sycamore, etc) You get the general idea.

  3. I love trees too, but the need for a safe SUP path along Beach Road is huge and whatever it takes must be done. I use the current mess of a sidewalk and road every day, and every day I trip, dodge around others, avoid bicycles, and wonder when I will become a statistic too. One reason there are not many bikers on the current route is that it is criminally unsafe. Frankly, until it is fixed, I think the bicycle and moped rental places should be forbidden from letting anyone set off down Beach Road. These neophytes are accidents waiting to happen. A tragedy is inevitable.

    • “the need for a safe SUP path along Beach Road is huge and whatever it takes must be done.”

      Really? This looks to me like prioritizing the preferences of the few to the needs of the many, including future generations. Also when it comes to major capital expenditures and maintenance costs. And as for “the few,” not all bikers agree with Zephyr’s position regarding the desirability or safety of an SUP in this place.

  4. Not sure why you think it is the “preferences of the few” I am supporting. I encounter lots of other people trying to walk and bike along Beach Road, and there would be a lot more if it was safe and well maintained. I both bike and walk it nearly every day. Plus, there are numerous businesses there that could be accessed by foot or bike most easily, and would gain business, if it wasn’t such a treacherous walk/bike. “Future generations” will not be able to walk, bike, or drive on Beach Road if climate change continues on its current path. A boat will be the preferred means of transport there, and it will be part of the harbor. We need to support non-fossil fuel transportation whenever and wherever we can.

    • ““Future generations” will not be able to walk, bike, or drive on Beach Road if climate change continues on its current path.”

      And that is exactly the reason for not cutting down trees, which remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
      Trees do not prevent the construction of bike lanes.
      Humans are choosing to make this a zero-sum game, with the trees being thrown under the bikes.
      Stop the self-righteous lecturing and start thinking.

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