Conserve Aquidneck Now – The CAN Project
“Partners in Preservation” is what we put on our signs all over this island. We are specifically speaking of project funding partners and landowners with conservation easements like one of the cities or towns. But really we are all Partners in Preservation. The success of ALT would not have taken place without the support of all of you. Together we have conserved over 2500 acres since 1990 – but we still have so much more to do, and we have to do it quickly!
Almost half of the open space in the drinking water watersheds is still unprotected; even if half of that were to be developed with impervious surface (roofs and pavement) – the nemesis of storm water management – we would see a significant degradation in our water quality.
Additionally, approximately 62 percent of the remaining farmland remains unprotected. The New England Food Vision Plan seeks 50% local food production by 2060 – so-call the 50 by 60 Plan. Currently RI is at between 1 and 2% of local food production needs. We have a long way to go.
This year we will move forward with the implementation of our Conserve Aquidneck Now program to accelerate land conservation on Aquidneck Island. The first part of that process entails proper strategic planning in the watershed and farm belts to define the absolute highest priority corridors that will have the greatest impact on the quality of our lives. This will identify the lands we cannot live without. Through grants from the federal government and foundations this portion planning process has been fully funded. At that point we develop a seven-ten year funding campaign.
In 2014, we started inventorying the land areas for our Conserve Aquidneck Now initiatives. The drinking supply watershed image shown demonstrates both the amazing work this organization has done over 25 years but also that there is so much more to do. Again, roughly half of the open space in the drinking supply watersheds is currently unprotected. Even our great success of an average of 100 protected acres a year won’t cut it. Much of these areas will be developed in the next development boom on this island. The lull we have been in won’t last – that is the one constant we know – the real estate market runs in cycles. The time is now to protect it and that is why we hope to accelerate our acquisition program.
The same is true with our farmland. We need to be able to produce more of our food locally and learn how to distribute it equitably to all residents of Aquidneck Island. If the recent droughts in California teach us anything it’s that we can no long depend 100% or 98% on our food coming from across the country or even across international borders from drought stricken areas. We will need to protect farmland in a viable manner, with farming being a viable business model, in order to produce more food locally. The farm to table movement is great first step and has totally been embraced on this island but it is the tip of the iceberg in the overall food system. The second map below shows what we have accomplished in terms of farmland conservation and what we still need to do.
We are asking you to join us in this accelerated land acquisition plan. Yes we CAN conserve our Island and yes we CAN do it faster than we ever have before. The time is now!