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"Together, Saving the Island We Love"

Our Mission & History

Our Mission & History

To preserve and steward Aquidneck Island’s open spaces for the lasting benefit of the community while connecting people with the lands that define the island’s natural character.

Aquidneck Land Trust was founded in 1990 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by a dedicated group of local residents to save the natural character, environmental health, and economic value of Aquidneck Island. On December 8, 1993, ALT secured its first conservation easement via a donation of the development rights to 2.4 acres of the historic estate of John J. Slocum on Bellevue Avenue in Newport.

Later in the 1990s, ALT set what was considered a near impossible goal: 2,000 conserved acres. This was considered very difficult due to the price of real estate, intense development pressures and the limited opportunities available on Aquidneck Island. In August 2000, after 10 years of conservation work, ALT had conserved about 500 acres. Then, in October 2008, ALT reached and surpassed the 2,000 conserved acre mark. Our committed supporters helped make this tangible and long-term accomplishment possible and will help ALT conserve the next 2,000 acres.

Today, ALT is overseen by more than 20 Trustees and guided by over 20 additional Advisory Board members, providing expertise in disciplines such as law, agriculture, finance, real estate, environmental protection, business and land conservation. Furthermore, a full-time staff manages the complex operations of land conservation, stewardship, outreach and fundraising.

1990: Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) founded as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
1993: First conservation easement on historic Slocum estate in Newport.
1998: $8.15 million granted to ALT over a 5-year period by 3 visionary foundations (McBean, Prince and van Beuren), allowing ALT to hire professional staff and conserve more land.
2000: 500 conserved acre mark reached!
2000: Merritt Neighborhood Fund, Stewardship Endowment Fund and Legal Defense Fund established.
2000: First Trail Easement acquired for ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail.
2001: ALT opens its first public nature trail at the Oakland Forest and Meadow Preserve.
2001: First summer gala, “Herd it Through the Grapevine,” which is the start of ALT’s annual summer gala tradition later renamed “Fiesta Verde”.
2002: First Annual Golf Tournament at Newport National Golf Course.
2002: First segment of ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail built and opened to the public, 2.2 miles around Newport National Golf Course.
2003: 1,000 conserved acre mark reached!
2004: ALT introduces the concept of different levels of conserved lands and actively begins to work on securing perpetual Conservation Easements on important and weakly protected public conservation lands.
2005: Conservation Speaker Series and Land Matters Walk & Talk Series established.
2006: ALT completes the largest Conservation Easement deal ever on Aquidneck Island with a conservation easement on over 400 acres of Newport’s public water reservoir areas in Portsmouth and Middletown, the first such Conservation Easement of its kind in Rhode Island.
2007: Inaugural Aquidneck Island Paddle fundraiser to support ALT and Lucy’s Hearth.
2008: ALT completes its $20 million Campaign for Living Land.
2008: 2,000 conserved acre mark reached!
2008: 1.5 mile segment of ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail opened to the public which links 2 previously completed segments and results in about 5 continuous miles of trail, now the largest free nature trail on Aquidneck Island.
2008: About 300 runners and walkers participate in ALT’s inaugural 5k Race for Open Space on the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, the longest nature trail on Aquidneck Island.
2009: ALT launches its Newport Conservation Initiative focused on conserving strategic parks and large landscapes/estates in the city.
2009: Of the over 40 land trusts in Rhode Island, ALT is the first to be awarded national accredited status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
2010: ALT launched its Young Friends Membership Program, and related activities with schools and others, in an effort to have more young people join the cause as young people have a major stake in what our future environment will be like.
2010: The Pennfield School becomes the first school to have its entire student body become ALT members.
2011: ALT completes a year-long mapping and prioritization study of all the remaining and threatened open space parcels within Aquidneck Island’s seven primary watersheds.
2012: ALT, with generous and visionary support from the Bilden family, completes its project of having the remaining overhead utility poles and lines removed along the critical 4-mile scenic stretch of Ocean Drive, one of the United States’ premier scenic and historic roadways.
2012: ALT completed the Aquidneck Island’s Conserved Lands Mapping Project, which updated ALT’s 2004 study, and this demonstrated that 20.6% of the Island is now conserved.
2012: ALT completes the final 5+/- miles phase of its Sakonnet Greenway Trail, making the trail 10+/- miles in total length, the Island’s largest, free public nature trail.
2012: ALT received a donated conservation easement from the Crump family on on a strategic 3.76 +/- acre open space property situated within Newport’s scenic Ocean Drive corridor and contiguous with other conserved lands and Gooseneck Cove.
2013: ALT enters into a Conservation Collaboration with St. Michael’s Schools as Young Friends Members and partners in environmental stewardship. ALT will provide lectures to the students on good stewardship of the environment and host a clean up for the students to participate in.
2013: ALT receives the Chafee Conservation Leadership Award by the Environmental Council of Rhode Island (“ECRI”) for the final segment of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail. ALT was also given a certificate of special congressional recognition from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
2013: ALT acquired a perpetual Conservation Easement from the Randall family on 10.65 acres of land on Berkeley Avenue in Middletown. The land is located next to other previously conserved lands and has the Maidford River running through it.
2013: ALT announces the Environmental Leadership Award. This award is a $1,000 merit award for a high school senior who has demonstrated leadership and/or commitment to any or all of the following: land conservation, open space, clean water, or environmentalism.
2014: ALT received an extremely generous testamentary gift from the late Marcella Clark McCormack of Newport, RI. In her lasting memory, the gift will be deposited in an investment account named, “The Marcella Clark McCormack Stewardship Endowment Fund.”
2014: ALT established “The Marcella Clark McCormack Stewardship Endowment Fund.” after receiving an extremely generous testamentary gift from the late Marcella Clark McCormack of Newport, RI.
2014: ALT conserved 10.53 acres of prime arable farm land in Portsmouth, RI with the Faria family.
2015: 2,500 conserved acre mark reached!


Our Commitment to Conservation
To protect our environment, we must think globally but act locally. ALT takes a holistic approach to land conservation in order to help our island community achieve a sustainable future. Thus, ALT works to protect a number of local natural resource types that we depend upon as a species (wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, water resource areas, outdoor recreational space, scenic vistas, etc.). In this work, ALT is guided by its values: Integrity; Environmental Consciousness; Embracing Community as a Partner; Respect and Stewardship of the Land; and Volunteerism.


ALT Protects and Promotes:
  • Water Resources – ALT works to protect public drinking water reservoirs and surrounding buffer zones, Narragansett Bay, streams, wetlands, vernal pools and other water resources.
  • Wildlife Habitats and Biodiversity – ALT protects wildlife habitats that support important species such as the Northern Harrier (State Endangered), Piping Plover (Federally Threatened), Northern Leopard Frog (State Species of Conservation Concern), and Barn Owl (State Endangered).
  • Agricultural Resources – ALT helps protect local farms that allow people to buy fresh & safe local foods and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with long-distance transportation of food.
  • Reduced Green House Gases –By preserving countless trees and plants in local forests, meadows, agricultural fields, and other open spaces, ALT preserves many of the area’s natural “carbon sinks” that use photosynthesis to help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Land conservation also helps limit the amount of new developments and associated “carbon footprints.”
  • Reduced Energy Consumption – When ALT conserves local land, we directly reduce the amount of potential energy consumption in the production of large homes, roads and other infrastructure required to support such development.
  • Economy – ALT’s work protects Aquidneck Island’s desirability as a place to live, work and visit, which gives our area a competitive edge. Land conservation also helps protect our Island communities from expensive community services demands created by new subdivisions (i.e., needs for more schools, police, emergency personnel, roads, etc.). Studies show that it costs a municipality between $1.04 and $2.00 for every dollar of tax revenue to provide services to a typical subdivision.
  • Outdoor Recreation – ALT helps create and protect healthy outdoor recreation and education opportunities, such as the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Oakland Forest and Meadow Preserve and Miantonomi Memorial Park. Outdoor recreation areas are living classrooms that help connect people to nature and thereby foster future stewards of the earth.
  • Scenic Vistas – ALT conserves important scenic vistas that directly contribute to the quality of life on Aquidneck Island.
  • Recycling – ALT is committed to recycling and runs a recycling program in its office which includes recycling much of its own waste along with buying recycled office products whenever possible.
  • Green Electricity – ALT participates in a green electricity program as part of powering its offices. It is estimated that this action will offset electricity-related carbon dioxide emissions by over 20,000 pounds each year.
  • Educational Opportunities – ALT offers various environmental education and outreach activities to the community such as the Conservation Speaker Series, Land Matters Walk & Talk Series, and our public nature trails.