Results and Accomplishments
Governor Donald Carcieri announced the agreement concerning Lawton Valley Reservoir, Sisson Pond, St. Mary's Pond, and all the associated buffer lands at a Land Trust media event earlier this month. Other officials and dignitaries in attendance included the following: Newport Mayor John J. Trifero; Portsmouth Town Council President Mary Ann Edwards; Portsmouth Town Administrator Robert Driscoll; Middletown Town Council President Paul Rodrigues; Middletown Town Administrator Gerald S. Kempen; Mrs. John Drexel of the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust; Kristen A. Pauly of the Prince Charitable Trusts; Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Executive Director Lawrence Taft; and others.
As part of the agreement, the City of
Newport is to convey a Conservation Easement to the Land Trust on the 483 +/- acres public water reservoir area in the coming months. In 2004, the Land Trust completed an innovative and extensive mapping project that identified all of
Aquidneck Island ’s conserved lands and the status of those lands. That project demonstrated that not all conserved lands are equal. In other words, there are different levels of protection afforded conserved lands. For purposes of the project, three conservation levels were identified: the highest level, Land Conserved with a Perpetual Conservation Restriction (e.g., Conservation Easement); the middle level, Land Conserved with a Deed Restriction; and the lowest level, Land Held with Conservation Intent Alone. Conserved lands falling into the latter two levels can be further secured with a perpetual conservation restriction such as a Conservation Easement. Good conservation is like good government, it requires checks and balances. A Conservation Easement can act as such a set of checks and balances. The recent conservation agreement signed will move the 483 +/- acres area up from the Land Held with Conservation Intent Alone level to the Land Conserved with a Perpetual Conservation Restriction level.
The significance of conservation level differences and the 483 +/- acres agreement was highlighted by the recent Big River Reservoir Area matter, according to Land Trust Executive Director Ted Clement. There was a recent proposal to develop an approximate 18-acre portion of this State owned and State designated open space area in
West Greenwich into a State Police headquarters.
"The Big River Reservoir Area crisis was a clear message to communities that they should move quickly to identify all their conserved lands along with the levels of protection afforded those lands so that the comprehensive process of better securing weakly protected properties can begin around
Rhode Island ," Clement said.
The agreement reached on the 483 +/- acres area will benefit all three communities on Aquidneck Island because residents from Portsmouth, Middletown, and
Newport depend on these public water reservoirs.