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Aquidneck Island Conserved Lands Mapping Project * May 2012

Aquidneck Island Conserved Lands Mapping Project * May 2012

Dear Supporters:

We are sending you the results of the Aquidneck Land Trust’s (“ALT”) 2012 Aquidneck Island’s Conserved Lands Mapping Project, which updates the results from our 2004 mapping project.  Please click here to see the 2012 results.

ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1990 with a mission to conserve Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our island community.  To date, ALT has conserved 2,387 acres on 66 properties across the island.  ALT takes a holistic approach to land conservation in order to help our community achieve a sustainable future. Thus, ALT works to protect a number of natural resource types that we depend upon as a species (wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, water resource areas, outdoor recreational space, scenic vistas, etc.).

There are a few major take-home messages on the enclosed maps worth highlighting.  First, good conservation is like good government, it requires checks and balances, and not all conserved lands have adequate checks and balances.  For simplicity purposes, most conserved lands can fit into one of the following protection level categories: Land Conserved with a Perpetual Conservation Restriction (strongest level of protection); Land Conserved with a Deed Restriction (middle level of protection); and Land Conserved with Conservation Intent Alone (lowest level of protection).  On our island, the pressures on our remaining open spaces will only be increasing as there is less and less land available for development proposals.  Nationally and locally, many conserved open spaces that lacked adequate conservation protections have been lost to development.  In recognition of the above, we can place perpetual conservation restrictions (i.e., a Conservation Easement) on important and weakly protected open spaces.

Second, only 20.6% of Aquidneck Island’s land area is conserved.  Compare that to the percentage of land area conserved for other large islands in the Northeast: Manhattan 19%; Block Island 34%; Martha’s Vineyard 36%; and Nantucket 45%.

Third, while only a small percentage of Aquidneck Island’s land area is conserved there remain many important land conservation opportunities.  For example, in 2011, ALT completed a year-long mapping and prioritization study of all the remaining and threatened open space parcels within Aquidneck Island’s seven primary watersheds.  The study identified almost 300 open space parcels, representing over 3,000 acres, at risk of development within Aquidneck Island’s main watersheds.

In sum, we all have a lot of good conservation work left to do to ensure a sustainable future, both economically and environmentally, for our beloved island.  We owe this to ourselves and future generations!

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