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.


Middletown, R.I. – January 2, 2019 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) and the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust announce that the Blue Garden, a historic Newport property designed from 1910–1918 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., has been placed under permanent conservation easement. The 3.68-acre property will remain under the ownership and care of the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, which donated the easement, and function as it has since its restoration in 2014. It is the 80th property conserved by ALT since its founding in 1990.
“The Blue Garden is a phenomenal property and we are absolutely thrilled to work with the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust to preserve it,” said ALT Executive Director Chuck Allott. “It has very significant conservation and historic values, and is a notable addition to the list of conserved lands on Aquidneck Island.” Properties under conservation easement are protected in perpetuity from development.
“The Blue Garden should at all times be a reflection of the aesthetics, health, maintenance, and love that represent our mother’s vision for the garden, her generosity in rescuing this important place, and her faith that those standards are never compromised,” said Matthew Hamilton. “For this reason, the Hamilton Family has partnered with the Aquidneck Land Trust knowing they will provide unwavering dedication to our shared goals.”
Originally designed for Newport residents Arthur Curtis and his wife, Harriett Parsons James, the Blue Garden was unveiled in 1913 in a celebratory event that was chronicled in newspapers and magazines throughout the country. After the owners’ deaths in 1941, the garden fell into disrepair. The James’ mansion on the property was destroyed by fire in 1967 and later demolished, the land subdivided into lots and sold. In 2012, Newport philanthropist and horticulturist Dorrance Hamilton, who had purchased the property, hired Providence-based Parker Construction and Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture and other consultants to recreate the garden from archival material at the Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts, and other repositories including the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport. Groups and individuals associated with garden design, landscape architecture, horticulture or historic preservation may request a tour on Thursdays from mid-June through mid-October; information is on the website: www.thebluegarden.org/visiting.

Middletown, RI. – November 5, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) announces the receipt of a $250,000 bequest from the estate of Beth Everett, a Middletown resident and long-time ALT supporter who died in 2017. The donation was made to honor her late husband Walter Everett.

“This is a tremendously generous gift and we are very honored to be remembered in this way,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director at ALT. “Mrs. Everett’s bequest for land acquisition greatly increases our readiness for future projects. It will have a permanent impact on Aquidneck Island and will be a lasting reminder of the Everetts’ commitment to land conservation.”

Remembered by friends as a quiet, intelligent, meticulously organized woman with many interests, Beth Everett decided in 2006, a year after Walter’s death, to make plans for a bequest to ALT in his name. Her friend Chris Cotta noted, “She didn’t like to see houses going up. She had a lot of respect for the environment and the super job ALT had been doing to protect the island.” ALT plans to honor the Everetts by installing a bench in their name on the newly-conserved Spruce Acres Farm property, which will open to the public later this fall.

Bird-image-from-flyer-website

Middletown, R.I. – December 18, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) will offer a six-part course on bird biology taught by Dr. Charles Clarkson, ALT board member and professional ornithologist. The course will take place on four consecutives Tuesdays, beginning January 15, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the ALT office located at 790 Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown. There will also be two Saturday field trips on January 26 and February 2, from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. 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.
The course will cover topics including migration, evolution, flight, and mating. The field trips will be guided and will address bird identification, biology, and behavior. 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.

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Middletown, RI. – August 7, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has opened registration for the 11th Annual 5K Race for Open Space, to be held on November 3, 2018. The 5K Run/Walk is a loop course along the scenic Sakonnet Greenway Trail. Participants are welcome to run or walk, and strollers and leashed dogs are welcome. Proceeds from the race are used to support ALT’s land conservation and watershed protection efforts on the island.

The event starts and finishes at The Glen, Linden Lane, in Portsmouth, next to the Newport Polo grounds. Check-in begins at 9:00 a.m. and the race begins at 10:30 a.m. There are prizes for each age group and a registration gift for each participant. A discounted registration fee is available to all who sign up by October 1, 2018, and discounts for family groups and military participants are also available. Major support for the race is generously provided by the YMCA of Newport County, Rockland Trust, Charles Schwab & Co. and Newport Restaurant Group. Register online at the ALT website, www.ailt.org/5K or by calling 401-849-2799, ext. 10.

Middletown, RI. – May 22, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has awarded 12 grants totaling $16,000 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant program, the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $2,500.
Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. A recent donation of $4,621 to the Merritt Neighborhood Fund from the Newport County Board of Realtors and a $50,000 grant in 2017 from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation have allowed ALT to disperse more grants than in previous years.
“We were very pleased with the grant submissions this year,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director. “It is exciting to see how creative and thoughtful our local schools, clubs, neighborhood associations and small non-profit organizations are. We all benefit from their commitment and from the many ways they encourage our community to enjoy and treasure the outdoors.”
Awards were given to the following applicants:
• Aquidneck Community Table: raised garden beds at Pell Elementary School
• Bike Newport: bike path from Big Blue Bike Shed to Miantonomi Park
• Friends of Ballard Park: electrical panel for outdoor events at the park
• God’s Community Garden: straw bale gardens
• Lucy’s Hearth: raised garden beds
• Melville Elementary School: gardens for Outdoor Learning Center
• Middletown Tree Association: trees for Valley Park
• Museum of Newport Irish History: removal of dead tree at cemetery
• Norman Bird Sanctuary: improvements to hoop house
• Portsmouth Garden Club: trees for Portsmouth Historical Society building
• Sea Rose Montessori Co-op School: tools and storage for school vegetable garden
• St. John the Evangelist: expand and refurbish public prayer garden

Information on the 2019 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February, 2019.