A meeting called to discuss long-range management for the Menemsha Pond system took a surprise turn when a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appeared to take an early measure of public opinion on a new plan to dredge the Menemsha channel.
It wasn’t exactly a summit conference, but selectmen from Chilmark and Aquinnah held a joint session on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of dredging Menemsha Pond. The two boards last met in Aquinnah roughly a year ago to discuss cell phone towers.
This time they met in Chilmark and the topic at hand was mutual concerns about the health of the pond that spans both towns.
The shores of the beach at Herring Creek, which flows into Menemsha Pond, are clear. A string of rocks tapers out into the cove, a lone rowboat floats at high tide. In the morning the water stands still, rippling from the occasional gust of wind, resounding the chirps and chatters of coastal birds. Gone from the shoreline are the black, netted bags that served as oyster pods in the attempt to revive the shellfish population in the pond over the last decade.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) will develop a cooperative management plan for the Menemsha Pond with $181,590 in tribal wildlife grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The management plan would not only ensure the proper management of the bay scallop resource in Menemsha Pond, but also create a framework for management of other important resources, such as American oysters, herring species, winter flounder, American eels, and any other resource found in the connected pond system, according to a statement from the federal officials.
The waters around Menemsha Pond are a bit cleaner today thanks to the efforts of a regional high school sophomore, Isabel Smith, of West Tisbury, who was scouting for a science fair project she could do last month. Miss Smith did a project on Creating the Most Effective Catch Basin that is already yielding some real-world results.