Middletown, RI. – February 18, 2021 – ALT has announced that two new board members have been appointed to its board of trustees. The new trustees were appointed at the organization’s annual meeting, held February 4, 2021. Ellen Bowman and Dr. Martha McConnell were voted onto the board at the event, which was conducted virtually and is available to view on the ALT website.

Ellen Bowman is a resident of Rye, NY, and Newport, RI, where she is active in numerous organizations that support the arts, historic preservation, garden conservation and education. She has experience in fundraising and board governance. She is a trustee of the Newport Art Museum, was past President of the board of trustees for The Windward School in New York, and is a member of The Garden Conservancy Fellows, Rye Garden Club, Daughters of the Revolution and the National Society of Colonial Dames, New York Chapter.

Dr. Martha McConnell is a Lecturer at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Prior to moving to Newport, Martha managed the Polar Programme for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), directed studies on ocean, polar, and climate science policy issues for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and served as Visiting Faculty at the United States Coast Guard Academy. She led the first legislative process to advance ocean acidification research and monitoring, and has participated in four expeditions to Antarctica. A member of The Explorers Club, Martha 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, RI. – January 29, 2021 – ALT has announced 18 student winners in the 2020 ALT Art & Writing Contest, held annually to promote an appreciation of the island’s natural beauty. Students who live or attend school on Aquidneck Island were invited to submit art or written work portraying their favorite local vista.

“The response to the contest was fantastic,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “Despite the challenges of this school year, we received 170 entries from students attending ten island schools. Their entries show a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of Aquidneck Island, and we thank the students and their teachers for sharing their special places with us.”

Art winners in the kindergarten through grade four category are: Hyunsung Lee, Pell Elementary School (first place); Nathaniel Morgan, Melville Elementary School (second place); and Joel Morgan, Melville Elementary School (third place).

Art winners in the grade five through grade eight category are; Agatha Howell, Pennfield School (first place); Margaret Humphrey, Pennfield School (second place); and Erin Alphonse, Portsmouth Middle School (third place).

Art winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category are: Oliver Marshall, (first place); Emma Bartlett (second place); and Delaney Gouveia, (third place), all of Rogers High School.

Writing winners in the kindergarten through fourth grade category are: Grace Dalton, Pell Elementary School (first place); Caroline Whitlock, St. Michael’s School (second place); and Brayden Martin, Melville School (third place).

Writing winners in the grade five through grade eight category are: South Fulweiler, St. Michael’s School (first place); Charlotte Colby, Pennfield School (second place); and Mollyana Nuki, St. Michael’s School (third place).

Writing winners in the grade nine through grade twelve category are: Travon Anderson (first place); Hiroto Bito (second place); and Karla Costa (third place), all of Middletown High School.

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.

Winners will be acknowledged at the ALT Annual Meeting on February 4, 2021. The public is invited to attend the annual meeting; registration is on the ALT website (www.ailt.org). 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 thank the teachers, who understand the importance of encouraging an appreciation for the outdoors and the environment in their students.”

Middletown, RI. – January 21, 2021 – ALT announced the conservation of 13.62 acres of land in Newport, split between two properties located on the island’s south end. The conservation easements, which permanently protect the properties from development, were donated to the land trust by their respective owners. Mary Cushing Coleman donated 9.85 acres and EC Properties LLC donated 3.77 acres. Both properties are private, but their conservation assures that they will remain as open space forever.

The Cushing Coleman property, located on Ocean Drive, includes the landmark geological formation known as Spouting Rock, which still explodes in high surf. It has 3,000 feet of rocky shoreline, natural vegetation, and lawn areas, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean between Bailey’s Beach and Gooseberry Beach. The property’s natural features, elevation, and topography provide unique scenic views from the east (Cliff Walk, Bailey’s/Reject’s Beach, and Ocean Avenue), the south (the public waters of Rhode Island Sound), and the west (Gooseberry Island, Ocean Avenue, Gooseberry/Hazard’s Beach, and Gooseberry Cove). In addition to the cultural and historic values that its setting provides, it offers other conservation values such as wildlife habitat and coastal water resource protection.

The EC Properties LLC parcel, located on Ledge Road, has 200 feet of coastline and is visible from the publicly-accessible Cliff Walk trail. The site offers scenic views from Ocean Avenue, Bailey’s Beach, and Reject’s Beach, and to boaters and sailors passing by on the ocean. The site has typical Newport rock out-croppings, a scenic feature of the Newport Neck area, and a number of tidal pools.

Both properties are located within the center of the Newport Neck Greenway, which includes over 400 acres of land protected by either conservation easement or deed restriction. The conservation of these properties will help increase contiguity of the habitat and viewshed corridor in the Newport Neck Greenway. ALT has conserved 2,619.32 acres of land on Aquidneck Island on 83 properties since its founding in 1990.

Middletown, RI. – January 4, 2021 – ALT announced a $100,000 gift to its Glen Farm campaign, completing the year-long, $472,000 fundraising effort to conserve the 7.5-acre property in Portsmouth. The donation was made by Heather Marren Burgess and William Ernest Burgess III as part of a larger gift to help ALT conserve key properties.

The parcel is adjacent to the Glen Farm Stable, just south of the intersection of Glen Farm Road and Glen Road. The area was once part of the 500-acre Taylor estate, dating back to 1882. It is part of the iconic view corridor along East Main Road, bordered by stone walls and surrounded by farmland, forestland, parks, and trails.

“This generous gift will permanently protect an important and beautiful piece of Aquidneck Island,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “We are so grateful to the Burgess family for their commitment to our island community. ALT thanks them and the other 260 donors who helped to make this campaign a success, and we thank Steve Johnson and Meredith and Jason Spitalnik, the owners of the property, for electing to protect this property rather than develop it.”

The property is contiguous to a creek that drains into the Sakonnet River, 500 feet north of Sandy Point Beach. Development on the property could have polluted the creek with fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants, potentially impairing the beach. The land will continue to be sustainably managed as an essential grazing paddock for horses and, in future, will offer the public a short walking path around the perimeter of the pasture. The conservation easement is expected to become final in June 2021.

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.

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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.