Grant Money Available to Protect R.I. Open Space

By ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is making $4 million in matching grants available to help communities and local organizations protect valuable green space throughout the state.

A request for proposals is now open, with a deadline of Oct. 27. The funding is made possible by the 2016 Green Economy Bond, which was passed overwhelmingly by Rhode Island voters and invests $35 million in improving recreational facilities, cleaning up lands and waters, and preserving open space.

Rhode Island’s wealth of historic parks, bikeways and green spaces provide for public enjoyment, in addition to improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state’s climate resilience and supporting the economy.

Since 1985, more than 10,000 acres have been protected, according to DEM. As part of this grant round, awards up to $400,000, which may cover up to half of a project cost, will help preserve lands that offer significant natural, ecological or agricultural value by direct purchase or conservation easement. Projects that connect or expand existing protected lands will be prioritized, according to DEM. Climate change-related impacts of a project will also be considered.

In addition to these grants, funding is available to cover some costs associated with appraisal, title and survey services. Electronic applications are encouraged and should be forwarded to Michelle Sheehan in the Division of Planning & Development at michelle.sheehan@dem.ri.gov by 4 p.m. Oct. 27. Proposals and supporting materials may also be mailed to Sheehan’s attention at DEM, Division of Planning & Development, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908.

Municipalities, land trusts, and nonprofit land conservation organizations are eligible to apply. Applications will be reviewed and ranked by the Natural Heritage Preservation Advisory Committee, with final awards to be made by the State Natural Heritage Preservation Commission.