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.

34

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.

Middletown, RI. – May 17, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) announces the purchase of a 2010 Toyota Tacoma truck and new field and brush mower with a grant awarded by the Champlin Foundation. The truck will be used for work related to the monitoring and maintenance of ALT’s 78 conserved properties, five of which are owned by the land trust. The field and brush mower will be used to maintain ALT’s extensive walking trails, including the 10-mile Sakonnet Greenway Trail (“SGT”), the Oakland Forest Trail, and new trails at recently-conserved Spruce Acres Farm. The land trust will close on Little Creek Preserve in Portsmouth in early June and will extend the SGT into the new property.
“ALT is committed to creating public outdoor trails and open spaces for the enjoyment and health of our community. The truck and brush mower will make a tremendous difference in our operations,” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director. “We were using staff vehicles to transport large, dirty machinery and tools around the island because we had no other option. We are thrilled with our ‘new used truck’ and are very grateful to the Champlin Foundation for providing the funds for it and the brush mower.” The grant was awarded in November, 2017. ALT spent several months researching available used trucks and determining the most suitable brush mower before making the purchases.
The land trust’s newest property, Spruce Acres Farm, has an existing trail system from its former days as a Christmas tree farm, but the trails require new cuts, extensive grooming, and new signage, said Stewardship Director Alex Chuman. With the help of the new machinery,
ALT expects the Spruce Acres Farm trails to be open to the public later this year. A new environmentally-friendly parking lot for twenty cars will be installed pending completion of a new curb cut at the entrance of the East Main Road property.

Middletown, RI. – March 14, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) is accepting applications for grants from the Merritt Neighborhood Fund, which supports the preservation of small parks, community gardens, and other natural spaces on Aquidneck Island. 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. Grants typically range from $250 to $2500.
“The Merritt Fund has enabled Islanders to improve and beautify their public spaces for the past 19 years.” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “Last year, we awarded 15 grants totaling over $14,000 to local community and neighborhood groups. It is wonderful to see the creativity and effort poured into these projects, which benefit so many residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island.”
Some of the projects funded last year were the creation of garden beds at Emmanuel Church, new plantings for the Rochambeau Wall Garden, bench installations at Paradise Park, improvements to Legion Park and the Portsmouth Dog Park, the creation of a vegetable garden at Portsmouth Middle School, improvements to the vegetable garden at Rogers High School, and signage in Miantonomi Park.
A full list of 2017 awards and applications for 2018 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grants may be found on the ALT website (https://ailt.org/our-work/merritt-fund/). Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 6, 2018. Award decisions will be announced in early June.

IMG_0384
Middletown, RI. – March 5, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) recently announced the launch of Farmlink Aquidneck, an online resource for Rhode Island farmers. Created to address concerns specific to local farmers, Farmlink Aquidneck provides information on topics such as farm support organizations, workshops, succession and business planning, and professional references.

“ALT has always been committed to preserving farmland and supporting agriculture on Aquidneck Island. Farmlink Aquidneck furthers those efforts and provides a new way for ALT to share information and resources to the farming community,” said Alex Chuman, ALT’s Stewardship Director. One of Farmlink’s primary features, Land-Link, connects those with farmland available for sale or lease to those seeking it. “Access to farmland – both for purchase and for lease – is a problem for many on our island and in the state. We frequently receive calls from folks looking for land to farm, both for small plots and large. The Land-Link site will make it easier to connect landowners with farmers looking for land,” said Chuman.

Since its unveiling in late December, Land-Link has listed two properties with available farmland. One is Spruce Acres Farm, a former tree farm now owned and conserved by ALT on the Middletown/Portsmouth border. It features plots under one acre in size, available for the 2019 growing season. A second property, Highfield Farm, is located on Peckham Avenue in Middletown and offers nine acres of farmland for short- or long-term lease.

Farmlink Aquidneck was created to address the findings from ALT’s Farmland Conservation Plan, completed in 2016. The plan focused on ways to protect farmland and increase the viability of farming on Aquidneck Island, using a combination of literature research, farmer surveys, farmer interviews, on-the-ground knowledge, and spatial data to inform its findings. It was underwritten by the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, as was the creation of the Farmlink Aquidneck resource. Both may be seen at https://ailt.org/farmlink-aquidneck/.

 

Cattle

Middletown, RI. – January 15, 2018 – ALT has received a $151,500 grant from The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for the purchase of Little Creek Preserve in Portsmouth. The grant will bring the total raised to $364,500 of the $368,000 needed to conserve the property. Over 300 individuals, foundations and corporations have made gifts to the campaign, supporting ALT’s quest to purchase Little Creek and make it a publicly-accessible open space. The grant was given as part of the 2016 Green Economy Bond, which was passed by Rhode Island voters and resulted in $3.75 million in grants to protect green space in the Ocean State.

We thank you, our loyal supporters, for your incredible generosity and commitment to Little Creek. Together, we are doing GREAT things!