open space

Portsmouth leads in open space, says new Aquidneck Island Planning report

AIPC map of Portsmouth Open Space

The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) today released what they call the first comprehensive census of Aquidneck Island's open space, according to a release distributed this morning, and while Portsmouth leads the island with 10,000 acres, the town also has the highest percentage rated most susceptible to development.

The report, available today on their web site, maps and analyzes Aquidneck Island's parks, beaches, farms, ponds and reservoirs, playing fields, and other areas with little or no development. The report is the final product of a year-long AIPC project to identify the island's open space with the goal of providing information that will help the island's communities and policy makers plan for future development, expand recreational opportunities, and protect key watersheds.

Tina Dolen, AIPC Executive Director, said "The existence of these areas is critical to the well-being of Aquidneck Island's communities; they are vital for recreation, food production, and safe drinking water, and they are a key contributor to the island's distinctive character. By understanding what exists today, we can plan more effectively for the future."

AIPC used geographic information system (GIS) technology and data from the island's municipalities and the state of Rhode Island to create the maps and tables in the report. It categorized open space areas by land use, size, ownership type, zoning, and conservation status. Among the report's findings are:

  • Farmland comprises 31.7% of the island's open space, more than any other land use.
  • There are 1,868 acres of land devoted to recreation on Aquidneck Island.
  • There are 3,855 acres of publically-owned open space on the island; the largest public land owner is the City of Newport.

An eight-member advisory committee helped guide the project by working with AIPC to develop goals and verify the accuracy of the data and maps produced through the project. It included representatives from the Aquidneck Land Trust, Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport County Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Town of Portsmouth, Town of Middletown, and the City of Newport.

The van Beuren Charitable Foundation provided financial support for the project.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
Localblogging, 02871, open space, AIPC

Aquidneck Land Trust announces newly conserved Portsmouth space on Sakonnet Greenway

The Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) announced today the acquisition of a perpetual conservation easement on a 14-acre horse farm and woods off Mitchell's Lane in Portsmouth. The land, owned by C. William Welch, is located next to other conserved properties within ALT’s "Sakonnet Greenway."

“We thank Bill Welch for helping us add another important green patch to the impressive green quilt, known as our Sakonnet Greenway, that we have been working on for about twenty years,” ALT Executive Director Ted Clement said in a statement. Said Welch, “For years, we have benefitted from the terrific conservation work of the Aquidneck Land Trust, especially their extensive bridle trails, so we felt it was time to do our part.”

The Sakonnet Greenway runs from near Glen Road in Portsmouth south to Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown. A "greenway" is an area with a critical mass of nearby and connected open spaces which together afford a community substantial benefits such as wildlife habitat corridors, sweeping scenic vistas, recreational corridors that can support outdoor recreation opportunities such as ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail, long buffers for critical water supplies, and agricultural corridors. Fragmentation of agricultural land, caused primarily by development, is one of the significant threats to agricultural viability in New England.

The Welch land has a number of conservation values. This parcel contains United States Department of Agriculture recognized Prime Farmland Soils and Additional Farmland of Statewide Importance Soils. Welch Farm utilizes approximately 3 acres for its horse operation. The rest of the land, designated as the Habitat and Little Creek Buffer Area per the Conservation Easement, has substantial water resource and wildlife habitat values. Little Creek flows through this portion of the property on its way to the Sakonnet River with the forested Habitat and Little Creek Buffer Area providing an important buffer and recharge area for this creek. The Habitat and Little Creek Buffer Area also contains vernal pools and a mature Red Maple-Black Gum Swamp that support a number of wildlife species. Furthermore, Welch Farm affords scenic vistas to the residents and passersby on Mitchell’s Lane and Harvest Drive.

ALT’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island's open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. With today’s closing, the organization has conserved 2,385.63 acres on 65 properties on Aquidneck Island since 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release. Thanks to Mr. Welch and the folks at ALT from all of us here in Portsmouth!

Tags: 
Localblogging, 02871, open space, AILT

State of Rhode Island adds $400K to ALT effort to save Portsmouth's St. Mary’s Church land

The Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) campaign to save the St. Mary's land in Portsmouth got a major boost today from the State of Rhode Island, the group announced in a statement. Governor Lincoln Chafee and Director Janet Coit of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management presented a $400,000 open space grant award certificate to Executive Director Ted Clement of the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) for ALT’s Campaign to Save the St. Mary’s Church Land. In the competitive 2011 State of Rhode Island Open Space Acquisition Grant Round, there were 30 applicants from municipalities and land trusts throughout the State with only 15 being selected.

On May 25, 2011, ALT, St. Mary’s Church Portsmouth and the Trustees of the Sarah Gibbs Trust signed an Option Agreement that gives ALT until May 24, 2013 to raise over $3 million to conserve about 70 critical open space acres of the St. Mary’s Church land between East Main Road and the St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir in Portsmouth.

With this State of Rhode Island grant award, ALT has raised about $2.6 million in grant awards and cash against the agreed upon $3 million purchase price for the proposed 70 +/- acre conservation area and additional projected transaction costs for ALT.

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. The 2000 study Critical Parcel Identification for Watershed Protection in Newport County, Rhode Island, done by the Aquidneck Island Partnership, recognized the subject St. Mary’s land as critical to protect from a watershed protection perspective. ALT’s recently completed year-long mapping and prioritization study of all the remaining and threatened open space parcels within Aquidneck Island’s seven primary watersheds also identified the St. Mary’s Church land as a high priority for protection. The woods, fields and wetlands of the land provide diverse wildlife habitats that support various listed species such as the Glossy Ibis. This land, which has almost 1,000 ft. of frontage on East Main Road, is also a priceless and iconic property that provides joy to numerous passersby everyday with its spectacular scenic vistas. Furthermore, the fields of the proposed conservation area consist of mostly Prime Farmland Soils as recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture making the property an important agricultural resource.

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 2,352.55 acres on 63 properties on Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release. But still awesome.

Tags: 
Localblogging, 02871, Preserve Portsmouth, open space, ALT

Aquidneck Land Trust saves Wicks Nursery in Portsmouth

On Thursday, April 28th, the Aquidneck Land Trust’s (ALT) successfully concluded their campaign to Save Wicks Nursery in Portsmouth with the acquisition of a $2 million perpetual Deed to Development Rights and Conservation Easement, the group announced today. Press release worth quoting at length:

Who would have believed that 6 siblings, the Federal government, the State of Rhode Island, a municipality, and a non-profit organization could have reached an agreement on a complex and time-sensitive real estate transaction, let alone almost anything else? Who would have believed that a small non-profit could have raised about $2 million in less than a year for a project in this challenging economic climate?

With hard work and belief, ALT, the United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service, the State of Rhode Island, and the Town of Portsmouth purchased a $2 million perpetual Deed to Development Rights and Conservation Easement from the 6 Wicks siblings on 37.59 +/- acres of Wicks Nursery. This strategic farm is located off Moitoza Lane in Portsmouth. Numerous parties contributed to ALT’s Campaign to Save Wicks Nursery including 3 governmental entities, 6 foundations, almost 90 individuals and 1 homeowners’ association. We cannot thank these parties and the Wicks family enough for helping make this time-sensitive and lasting conservation project possible.

ALT’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island's open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. With yesterday’s closing on the Wicks Deed to Development Rights and Conservation Easement, ALT has conserved 2,351.85 acres on 62 properties on Aquidneck Island. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit AquidneckLandTrust.org.

What can I say. YAAAAAAY!

Editorial note: Written substantially from a press release.

Tags: 
Localblogging, 02871, open space

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