ALT meets goal to save Portsmouth church land

The Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) has completed raising the $3M necessary to preserve the St. Mary's Church property in Portsmouth, the group announced in a release today. The final piece of the 14-month funding drive was a $110K grant from The Nature Conservancy via The Champlin Foundations, and ALT now plans to work on closing on the conservation rights on 70 acres between East Main Road and the St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir in Portsmouth.

“We are extremely grateful to all who contributed to our Campaign to Save the St. Mary’s Church Land," said Ted Clement, ALT Executive Director, in a statement. "All participants leveraged one another’s limited open space funds so as to permanently protect this land which is priceless to our island community because of the land’s water resource, agricultural, scenic and wildlife habitat values. We have a lot to celebrate at our July 28th summer gala, Fiesta Verde, which will be held on the beautiful and magical St. Mary’s meadows.”

With the grant from The Nature Conservancy and The Champlin Foundations, ALT has now raised enough in grant awards and cash from 3 governmental entities, 6 foundations and 40 individuals to cover the entire project budget of $3,073,894. A number of parties made significant leadership contributions including the United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service, the State of Rhode Island/Department of Environmental Management, the Town of Portsmouth, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Prince Charitable Trusts, the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust, and The Nature Conservancy through a grant from The Champlin Foundations.

The proposed approximate 70-acre St. Mary’s Church conservation area is strategic from a conservation perspective. Pursuant to the Town of Portsmouth’s 2002 Local Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Plan, the subject land is located within a Town of Portsmouth designated Open Space and Active Agriculture Area, Resource Protection Overlay District Area and Greenways Plan Area. The St. Mary’s Church land is located next to a number of previously conserved parcels within ALT’s Center Island Greenway thereby building upon and enhancing this past conservation work. The land also falls within the St. Mary’s Pond Watershed, directly abutting the St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir area with over 1,000 ft. of frontage on the reservoir property. The St. Mary’s Church land therefore acts as a natural buffer protecting this important island water reservoir from harmful runoff.

ALT’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island's open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. The organization has conserved 2,386.50 acres on 66 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit

Editorial note and disclosure: Written from a press release; I am a supporter of ALT.