Middletown, RI. – July 20, 2020 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced a campaign to conserve a new section of Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown. The 5.49-acre parcel abuts the farm, which already has 84 acres of land under conservation easement with ALT. It will be used to grow seasonal crops such as strawberries and pumpkins, and be the newest property in the 1,260 acres of conserved land that are known collectively as the Sakonnet Greenway.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to expand our island’s Greenway corridor,” said Chuck Allott, ALT’s Executive Director. “By conserving this parcel, we will increase the size of the nearly contiguous tract of protected lands that we have pieced together over the past 30 years. Development pressure on our island is high, and this land could have been turned into house lots very easily. Instead, it will continue to be farmed, as it has since at least 1939. We are thrilled to be working with Sweet Berry Farm to conserve this important property. This partnership has dated back to 1996 to when Sweet Berry was a simple roadside stand. Our relationship with the farm has only grown over the years, and it is great to continue to save land together.”
Another important conservation value of the property lies in its proximity to two of Aquidneck Island’s seven drinking water reservoirs. It is within the Maidford River/Paradise Brook drinking supply watershed and near Paradise Brook, which feeds the Paradise and Gardiner Pond reservoirs. All of the island’s reservoirs are deemed impaired by the Department of Environmental Management, and protecting nearby land is an important way of improving their future viability.
The land trust must raise $268,286 to permanently conserve the land, which was recently purchased by Jan Eckhart, one of the co-owners of Sweet Berry Farm. The farm, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, grew from a roadside pop-up tent to the travel destination it is today,
offering fresh produce, cut flowers, and pick-your-own fruits to locals and visitors to Aquidneck Island.

Middletown, RI. – March 4, 2020 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced a campaign to conserve 7.5-acres of the historic Glen Farm in Portsmouth. The property has significant conservation values and could be developed into as many as eight house lots. The land trust has raised $213,000 of the $472,000 needed to preserve the land, which abuts the Glen Farm Stables near the intersection of Glen Road and Glen Farm Road.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to permanently protect this beautiful piece of farmland,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “This land is part of the iconic view corridor, looking from East Main Road to the Sakonnet River. It has valuable wildlife habitat and was once part of the vast Taylor estate, which spanned 500 acres and dates back to 1882. We are thrilled to have the chance to conserve it.”

The property is contiguous to a creek that drains into the Sakonnet River, just 500 feet north of Sandy Point Beach, a popular public beach. Development on the property could pollute the creek with fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants, potentially impairing the beach. If conserved, the land will continue to be sustainably managed as an essential grazing paddock for horses from the adjacent Glen Farm Stables, and will offer the public a short walking path around the perimeter of the pasture.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (“RIDEM”) awarded a $200,000 grant to ALT last week for the campaign, and a generous gift was also received from The Betty Byrne de Zahara 1997 Charitable Trust. The land trust has until May 2021 to raise the remaining $259,000 needed to conserve the property.


Middletown, R.I. – January 15, 2020 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) will offer a third series of courses about bird biology, taught by Dr. Charles Clarkson, ALT board member and professional ornithologist. The series, “Amazing Birds III,” is open to all, regardless of the participant’s level of bird knowledge.
Classes will take place at the Greenvale Vineyards tasting room, 582 Wapping Road, in Portsmouth. They will be held on April 7, 15, 21 and 28, from 6:00–7:30 p.m. There will be two Saturday field trips on April 18 and May 9, from 8:00–10:00 a.m. The field trips will focus on the birds that pass through Rhode Island on migration. The cost is $125 for ALT members and $150 for non-members; check the ALT website or call 401-849-2799, ext. 10, for registration.
Dr. Clarkson received his doctorate from the University of Virginia, where his primary focus was on the impact of mercury on the growth and development of nesting waterbirds. He moved to Rhode Island in 2011 and has taught at Salve Regina and Roger Williams Universities. In 2015, Charles was employed as the coordinator for the Rhode Island Bird Atlas, a five-year, statewide project aimed at documenting the distribution and abundance of the state’s birds. In addition to coordinating the project, Charles serves as a board member for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and ALT, and as the co-chair of the Conservation Committee for the International Waterbird Society.

Middletown, RI. – January 15, 2020 – The Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced 18 student winners in the 2019 ALT Art & Writing Contest, held annually to promote the importance and value of a healthy environment. Students at Aquidneck Island schools were invited to enter artwork of their favorite local vista, or written work in prose or poetry form describing the same. “We had a tremendous response to this year’s contest,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “Over 340 entries were submitted, and the level of talent was superb. It is clear that students on the island treasure its natural beauty.”
Art entries were judged by a panel that included Norah Dietrich, Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum; Erik Greenburg, Director of Museums at the Newport Restoration Foundation; Susan Woythaler, artist and musician; and Jonathan Gewirz, ALT board member. Written entries were judged by Annie Sherman Luke, writer; Katherine Gagliano, principal, Amplify Marketing; and Jonathan Gewirz, ALT board member. The contest was underwritten by a grant from local design/build firm Sixteen on Center.

Art winners in the kindergarten through grade four category are Oscar Villanueva Rodriguez, first place (Pell Elementary School), Leila Costa, second place (Pell Elementary School), and Margaret Berkeley, third place (Aquidneck Elementary School). Winners in the grade five through grade eight category are Jada Unger, first place (Thompson Middle School), Willow Foregger, second place (Pennfield School), and Paola Budde, third place (Thompson Middle School). Winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category are Kamden Grant, first place (Rogers High School), Samantha Durham, second place (home-schooled), Ashley Desmarais, third place (Rogers High School) and Ashley Aquilar, honorable mention (Rogers High School).

Writing winners in the grade five through grade eight category are Eva Mermin, first place, (Pennfield School), Sophie Garman, second place, (St. Michael’s School), Dashiell Seals, third place, (St. Michael’s School), Thais Jackson, honorable mention (Pennfield School) and Isabel Swain, honorable mention (Pennfield School). Winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category are Pauline Cooper, first place, Patrick Bryan, second place, and Maeve Crowley, third place, all of Rogers High School.

Awards will be presented at the ALT Annual Meeting on February 6, 2020. The school of each first-place winner will receive a $500 grant to support their environmental science curriculum. “We are very grateful to Sixteen on Center for their generosity and commitment to environmental education,” said Allott. “We also appreciate the support of local teachers, who understand the importance of protecting the island’s natural beauty and unique environment.”

LCP kisok

Middletown, RI. – October 9, 2019 – The Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) announces the opening of Little Creek Preserve, a newly-conserved property on Bramans Lane in Portsmouth. ALT purchased the 15.28-acre site, once part of a dairy farm, in 2018 and has spent over a year preparing it for public accessibility.
A new parking area on Bramans Lane provides access to both the park and the existing ten-mile Sakonnet Greenway Trail, also conserved and maintained by the land trust. A half-mile of new grass trails loops into the preserve, with the remaining land left as undisturbed habitat. It is well-marked, with trail maps located at the trailhead on Bramans Lane and available on ALT’s website. Picnic tables and benches will be installed later this month and ALT has submitted a request to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (“RIDEM”) for permission to construct a 160-foot boardwalk over a marshy area on the property. The proposed boardwalk will have built-in benches and a viewing platform that extends over a vernal pond, allowing visitors to enjoy local wildlife.
“We are thrilled to open Little Creek Preserve to the community and encourage everyone to enjoy its free walking trail and abundant natural beauty,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director. “The site is home to many songbirds, waterfowl, and hawks as well as amphibians that use the vernal pools in the refuge. Key water assets are now protected in perpetuity, including forested wetlands, marshes, and the headwaters of Little Creek. The property fits into the Sakonnet Greenway habitat and trail corridor like a puzzle piece, as it is completely surrounded by other protected land. We are thankful to the former owner, Dennis Silvia, who worked with us to save it and continues to help manage the land. This property provides a wonderful example of how conserving property benefits everyone.”
ALT received over 300 donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations to conserve the property. A grant for $151,500 was awarded by RIDEM as part of an open space bond approved by taxpayers. Boy Scouts from Troop 1 of Portsmouth constructed a map kiosk, and ALT staff and volunteers expanded the Sakonnet Greenway Trail onto the parcel. The trail is open dawn to dusk and follows the same rules as the Sakonnet Greenway Trail. Dogs must be leashed and picked up after. For more trail information go to https://ailt.org/trails-maps/.

Middletown, R.I. – May 14, 2019 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) announces the opening of nine raised garden beds at Spruce Acres Farm, now available for public use. The beds were constructed in April 2019 as part of an Earth Day volunteer event held at the property, which is located at 1286 East Main Road in Middletown. ALT permanently conserved the 22.67-acre parcel in 2017.

“We encourage Islanders to take advantage of this wonderful setup,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director. “Our purpose in providing the gardens is to inspire people to grow some of their own produce and to spend more time outdoors, enjoying the natural world; it is truly an idyllic spot, with 1.5 miles of nature trails, picnic tables, and benches on the property.”

The garden beds are 8’x4’ and are filled with a compost and soil mixture. The area has an 8’ deer fence and is located next to the property’s parking lot. There is water on-site and there will be a garden bench inside the fenced area. The cost to rent a garden bed is $50 per year; the season runs from April through November. Spruce Acres Farm is open from dawn until dusk daily. Registration is now open through the Spruce Acres page of the land trust’s website, at https://ailt.org/trails-maps/spruce-acres-farm/, or by calling 401-849-2799.

Middletown, R.I. – May 2, 2019 – Aquidneck Land Trust announces a lecture on climate change given by Dr. Martha McConnell on Wednesday, May 8, at Rogers High School in Newport. The free event will take place at 7:00 p.m. and is titled “Climate and Ocean Changes: A View from the Polar Regions.” Dr. McConnell’s talk will focus on how changes in the polar regions affect residents of Rhode Island in a variety of ways, including sea level rise. Options for responding to climate change will be discussed.

The talk is underwritten by The William H. Donner Foundation, Inc., which has also supported a climate resiliency project at Rogers High School aimed at exposing students to the effects of global climate change on Aquidneck Island. Dr. McConnell will present to four science classes at the high school as part of the unit. Attendees for the May 8 talk are requested to register on the ALT website (www.ailt.org).

Dr. McConnell is an ocean scientist with A.I.S. Inc. with extensive experience in polar science, policy, and education. She has served as Visiting Professor at the United States Coast Guard Academy, teaching oceanography and atmospheric science, and adjunct at Salve Regina University. She managed the Polar Programme for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and directed studies on ocean, polar, and climate science policy issues for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). A member of The Explorers Club, Dr. McConnell holds a B.A. in Geology from Colgate University and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Paleoceanography from the University of South Carolina.

Middletown, R.I. – April 29, 2019 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) announced that a 6.20-acre property near Third Beach Road in Middletown has been placed under conservation easement. The parcel is owned by Sandra Allen, who donated the easement to ALT. The land trust has now conserved 2,605.55 acres, spread over 81 properties on Aquidneck Island.

“This is a fantastic property with many important conservation values,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director. “It has USDA prime farmland soils, supports a variety of wildlife species, and is located within the Maidford River and Paradise Brook drinking supply watershed. This is extremely important because the streams drain into Gardiner and Nelson Ponds, which provide drinking water for our community. Sandra Allen has done a wonderful thing by permanently conserving her land, and we will all benefit from her generosity.”

The site is located within the Sakonnet Greenway of ALT-protected lands, which run along the eastern side of Aquidneck Island and total over 1,282 acres of land spread across 36 conservation easements. This corridor of connected, conserved land provides key habitat patches for a number of species. Allott noted that Allen specifically wanted to “protect the land for animals, so they can freely roam.” The property will remain private land but is protected forever from development, and will be used for agriculture and wildlife habitat.

Middletown, RI. – March 8, 2019 – The Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced that two new board members were appointed to the board of trustees at the organization’s annual meeting, held February 7 at the Atlantic Resort. Newport resident Tim Brown and Portsmouth resident William W. Harvey II were voted onto the board at the event, which was attended by nearly 300 ALT members.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tim and Bill to the ALT board,” said Executive Director Chuck Allott. “Their professional experience and strong volunteerism will be enormous assets for our organization. Both are committed to Aquidneck Island and to our mission of conserving open space.”

Tim Brown is the General Manager of T.J. Brown Inc., a Newport-based contractor specializing in estate landscaping and fine gardening since 1901. A graduate of Stonehill College, Tim spent seven years in Boston, working in City government on public policy and zoning matters. He also took an active role in local and national political campaigns. Since returning to his hometown, Tim has served as a board member on the City of Newport’s Tree and Open Space Commission and The Friends of Ballard Park. He lives in Newport with his wife, Maryellen, and two children.

William W. Harvey is an attorney at Moore, Virgadamo & Lynch. He graduated from Middletown High School and received an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctorate from Roger Williams University School of Law. He served on the Board of the Newport County YMCA and is past president of the Newport Public Library Board of Trustees and Newport Little League. He lives in Portsmouth with his wife, Karen, and three sons.

Middletown, RI. – January 10, 2019 – The Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has announced fifteen student winners in the 2018 Sixteen on Center Art & Writing Contest, held annually to promote the importance and value of a healthy environment to the youth of Aquidneck Island. Public and private schools were invited to submit artwork and essays (or poems) created by their students, highlighting favorite Aquidneck Island scenic vistas.

“We are thrilled with the entries for this year’s contest,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of Aquidneck Land Trust. “The students showed incredible creativity and talent, and it’s clear that they treasure the beauty of our island. We appreciate the wonderful participation in the contest and are pleased to award prizes to the students and their schools.”

The nine winners in the art category were selected by popular vote using the social media platform Facebook:
• Lev Wyllie, grade 1, Pell Elementary School (first place K-4)
• Austin O’Brien, grade 1, Pell Elementary School (second place K-4)
• William Kimes, grade 1, Pell Elementary School (third place K-4)
• Nichelle Collier, grade 7, Thompson Middle School (first place gr. 5-8)
• Jazelle Ramos, grade 5, Thompson Middle School (second place gr. 5-8)
• Tess Margolis, grade 5, Thompson Middle School (third place gr. 5-8)
• Katherine Warner, Rogers High School (first place gr. 9-12)
• Jonathan Guzman, Rogers High School (second place gr. 9-12)
• Jaden Petrie, Rogers High School (third place gr. 9-12)

A panel of judges selected six winners in the writing category.
• Thais Jackson, grade 6, The Pennfield School (first place gr. 5-8)
• Isabel Swain, grade 7, The Pennfield School (second place gr. 5-8)
• Lila Bragan, grade 6, The Pennfield School (third place gr. 5-8)
• Aspen Pearson, grade 7, Thompson Middle School (honorable mention)
• Madison Biastre, grade 7, Thompson Middle School (honorable mention)
• Charlotte Colby, grade 6, The Pennfield School (honorable mention)

Winners will each receive a cash prize, awarded at the ALT Annual Meeting on February 7, 2019. The schools of the first-place winners will also receive a cash prize to further the goal of educating students about the environment.

“We are very grateful to our sponsor, Sixteen on Center, for their generosity and commitment to environmental education,” said Allott. “It is a wonderful example of the community support given to ALT and other non-profits on Aquidneck Island.” Sixteen on Center is a design/build company based in Tiverton, RI.