Since 1990, ALT has permanently conserved over 2,418 important open space acres. However, we are only about half-way to completing our lasting green legacy. Of Aquidneck Island’s near 25,000 acres, only a little over 2,000 strategic open space acres are left to conserve before time runs out. Donate today to help us conserve these last great places and responsibly steward the natural resources under our care!Because of the generosity of landowners, foundations, government agencies and citizens like you, the Aquidneck Land Trust has completed more than 65 conservation projects on Aquidneck Island, permanently protecting over 2,418 acres of irreplaceable open space. Because ALT is a local non-profit organization we can act with speed when a threatened property goes on the market, but we need financial resources to be able to do so. By giving to ALT you are leaving to future generations this uniquely beautiful Island we call home. Our ambitious plans to protect a total of about 4,000 acres of Aquidneck Island’s open space must include steady increases in community support over the next few years. ALT relies on donations from individual supporters to fund its core expenses. Without your support we would not have the staff necessary to meet with landowners, care for protected lands or seek foundation and public agency funds.
Lawton Valley, Sisson Pond and St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir Area
In 2005, ALT, in partnership with the City of Newport and the Town of Portsmouth, conserved its largest area to date with a single Conservation Easement – approximately 483 acres that include three of Aquidneck Island’s public water reservoirs. Lawton Valley Reservoir, Sisson Pond and St. Mary’s Pond, three of the seven public water reservoirs on the Island, were conserved all at once. Not only was this the largest Conservation Easement ever completed on Aquidneck Island, but it was also the first project of its kind in the State of Rhode Island, setting a positive precedent for protecting our public water supplies. Conserving these reservoirs and their buffer zones helped protect our drinking water supplies for current and future generations.
Oakland Forest and Meadow Preserve
The approximately 30 acre Oakland Forest and Meadow Preserve has a pedestrian-only trail, providing access to a unique ecosystem of old growth American Beech tree forest and meadow habitat. Once hailed as the only “old growth” forest in Rhode Island, this magnificent stand of trees was saved because a local arborist, hired by a developer to mark trees for a proposed condo development, couldn’t bear to see the forest destroyed. The subsequent public outcry over the potential development eventually led to Oakland Forest’s preservation by the Aquidneck Land Trust. With the help of the Town of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Open Space Committee, the Oakland Forest and Meadow Trail was the first public trail opened by ALT.
Miantonomi Memorial Park
Located in the densely developed north end of Newport, Miantonomi Memorial Park is chock full of conservation values: its mature deciduous forest provides wildlife habitat, it is a well-known bird habitat and it provides public recreational opportunities. The park is also historically significant as it was once the seat of power for the Native Americans who inhabited Aquidneck Island long before the Europeans. Though it is a municipal park and had some protection, not all conserved lands are equal. Originally, the park was only at the “Land Held with Deed Restriction” level because it had some general and vague deed restrictions from the 1921 conveyance from Helen Stokes to the City of Newport. These weak restrictions were taken advantage of around 1970 when part of the park was lost to development. In 2005, ALT, the City of Newport and the Miantonomi Memorial Park Commission made sure that the remaining 30+/- acre urban gem was secured with a permanent Conservation Easement so that it could be enjoyed for generations to come.
Escobar’s Highland Farm
A traditional family farm amidst a modern area, Escobar’s Highland Farm is a vital part of the community for many reasons: it is the only remaining dairy farm on Aquidneck Island, is an integral part of the Rhody Fresh cooperative, contributes to the local economy, provides valuable green space in an increasingly populous region and is beloved by our Island community for, among many other things, its annual 4th of July fireworks show and its corn maze. In August 2004, amidst intense development pressure focused on the farm, the Aquidneck Land Trust and Louis Escobar signed an option to purchase a Deed to Development Rights. Bucking the rampant development trend, the Escobars agreed to the bargain price of $3 million to ensure that their land would remain open space for all time. The agreement gave ALT 18 months to raise the funds needed to purchase a Conservation Easement on approximately 75 acres of the farm. The entire Aquidneck Island community and several partners joined with ALT to make this goal a reality, and in September 2005 we celebrated this extraordinary land conservation achievement.
The Boulevard Nurseries property in Middletown is one of the few remaining open space properties on East Main Road, one of the two most heavily traveled public thoroughfares on Aquidneck Island. Because of its strategic location, one of America’s largest home building companies expressed interest in building on this property in 2008. Engineers’ plans demonstrated that this property could have been developed into 35 house lots, destroying the scenic charm of the area and burdening the Town’s tax base due to an increase in needed municipal services. In October 2008, the Kempenaar Family, the Town of Middletown and the Aquidneck Land Trust successfully conserved approximately 30 acres of the Boulevard Nurseries property. This stunning scenic farm is next to two other properties that ALT and the Town of Middletown conserved for public use: the Tibbets property and the Albro Woods Preserve. Together, these three properties, which total over 70 acres, can eventually serve as a major open space, agriculture and public recreation complex. With the conservation of the Boulevard Nurseries property, ALT also reached and surpassed its long-held goal of 2,000 conserved acres.