The Tisbury harbor management committee wants to eliminate anchoring in Lake Tashmoo to promote the growth of eelgrass, but allow transient moorings, a plan which if allowed, would impact everyone who uses and enjoys the pond and affect the use and character of beautiful Lake Tashmoo.

In recommending these changes, the committee has put on blinders and successfully eliminated any public discussion, local knowledge, consideration of alternatives or potential impacts. The process to develop this important management plan should be public and involve the planning board, engineers, and the many knowledgeable people who have ideas and suggestions. It should all be on the table. Participation should not be limited to people who live on the pond.

The committee has recommended the establishment of a large no-anchoring zone in the middle of Tashmoo, from Drew’s Cove on the west side of Tashmoo, to the edge of the existing mooring field, on the east side. The committee claims that this will protect eelgrass, but anyone who has ever worked or commercial shellfished in Tashmoo will tell you that this zone is mostly mud and muck.

In addition, although never voted on or discussed in the committee, the plan includes the placement of 10 to 20 transient moorings and the use of vacant private moorings for transient boaters. These transient moorings would be placed along the east edge of the existing mooring field, as far from the homes on the west shore as possible.

This will not help to bring back eelgrass. It will in fact create new problems. No one disputes the need to protect healthy eelgrass beds. The fact remains that eelgrass will never actually recover anywhere until nitrogen pollution is under control. Some eelgrass will never recover.

The inclusion of transient moorings, number of moorings, placement, cost of the moorings and use of private moorings was all decided outside of the committee. The committee has refused public discussion of the impacts. These moorings will be permanent, there is never any going backwards.

The cost was brought to the finance committee by the harbor master and a member of the harbor management committee, then approved for placement on the town meeting warrant in the name of the selectmen. Requests from the public for an explanation and discussion of impacts were denied. There was never any committee discussion about the potential impacts of transient moorings, good or bad. Conservation type moorings, designed by a committee member, are being proposed to protect eelgrass, but there is no eelgrass in the anchor area to protect.

There are currently no transient moorings in Tashmoo. There is no question that the availability of transient moorings will attract more boaters creating additional impact on the pond and the infrastructure. Infrastructure that is already severely stressed. There are currently 289 private moorings in Tashmoo, mostly for smaller boats. The average cruising boats will not even fit in the existing mooring field. If private moorings are available, they should be assigned to those residents on the waiting list, then be available for seasonal lease. The committee refuses to discuss this.

At the recent public review of the Tashmoo estuary study results, the advice from professor Brian Howes was don’t panic. He knows Tashmoo well. There shouldn’t be panic to protect several feet of mud and muck. There should be no rush to stop anchoring and add transient moorings in this area. Survey and sample these areas, then monitor for changes. Look at other ways to reduce nitrogen pollution. It would be more useful to focus on protecting the area from the shallow shoreline of the pond out to the edge of deeper water, up to where the muck begins. The eelgrass won’t return until the nitrogen pollution is under control, and there may be even more loss of eelgrass as the nitrogen continues to pollute coastal ponds. What is really going on here and why the rush?

The purchase of transient moorings for Tashmoo is on the town meeting warrant. I urge Tisbury voters to vote against purchase of the transient moorings for Tashmoo and to urge the development of a well thought out plan presented in a public hearing for all to review prior to a vote, and not before.

Lynne Fraker
Vineyard Haven