By ecoRI News staff
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The transaction had been in the works for more than a year, but the South Kingstown Land Trust (SKLT) recently made the purchase official. It’s now the owner of 43 acres of woodlands on the south side of Worden’s Pond Road that once belonged to the Rhode Island Boy Scouts.
SKLT officials said the property provides many public benefits, including protection of a drinking-water recharge area, wildlife habitat, wetlands protection, and, soon, public access trails. These benefits are magnified as the property is located between four existing open space areas that have a combined 167 acres of protected land: two Audubon Society of Rhode Island parcels, a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) parcel, and the town’s Tuckertown Park. Across the road to the north is the Boy Scout’s Camp Aquapaug, and an additional 193 acres.
The newly acquired 43 acres contains mixed hardwood forest, a wetlands stream, important farmland soils, and scenic views along two roadways. Alewife Brook, flowing from Tucker Pond to Worden Pond, forms the property’s southern boundary.
The understory includes high-bush and low-bush blueberry, mountain laurel thickets, immature American holly, sheep laurel, larch, and greenbrier. The forest canopy is a mixed hardwood forest common in southern Rhode Island, including scarlet, black and white oak, red maple, white and pitch pine, hickory, beech, and gray birch. There is little evidence of invasive plants. On the gentle slope toward Alewife Brook are dense thickets of mountain laurel, sweet pepperbush, red maple, and alder.
In March 2018, SKLT reached an agreement with the Boy Scouts to buy the property. Partial funding was awarded to the project by DEM, with money from the 2012 open space bond fund. The South Kingstown Town Council voted additional support for the project in summer 2018.
In January 2019, SKLT received a grant from the Bafflin Foundation, and in March it received additional grant money from The Nature Conservancy and Champlin Foundation, to complete the funding.
SKLT has developed a management plan for the property and will start planning a trail system, including a parking area and informational kiosk.