PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Environmental Management and The Nature Conservancy have announced the permanent protection of 245 acres of forestland in Richmond.
The protection, announced Friday, is for forestland off Richmond Townhouse Road, behind the Washington County Fairgrounds. The property abuts The Nature Conservancy’s 180-acre Grass Pond Preserve.
“This beautiful forest is now available for the public to use for hiking, bird-watching, and just being outdoors enjoying nature,” DEM Director Janet Coit said in a statement. “I am so pleased that the Department was able to protect another part of a priority habitat near the state’s Carolina and Great Swamp Management Areas. I hope lots of folks will get out there to explore this gorgeous piece of land and the stunning views from its many ledges.”
DEM purchased the property for $1 million from Delbonis Sand and Gravel. Five hundred thousand dollars of the funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, $300,000 was provided by The Nature Conservancy and the remaining $200,000 was provided by Rhode Island’s open space bonds.
According to the release, The Nature Conservancy acquired a conservation easement on the land with a grant from The Champlin Foundations, which provided additional legal protection and land management rights. The property creates a 424-acre conservation area, which is open to the public for recreational activities.
“Protecting the Delbonis property more than doubles the size of our Grass Pond Preserve,” Terry Sullivan, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island, said in a statement. “Instead of 53 more houses, this land will continue to provide all the benefits of nature to the residents of Richmond and beyond: from storing and filtering the waters we drink to providing a wonderful place to enjoy a hike with family and friends.”
DEM and the Conservancy plant o use the existing path and roads on the property as hiking trails that will connect to the Grass Pond Preserve. Starting as early as 2013, DEM will open the property to hunting for white-tailed deer.
Prior to the purchase, the property had been slated for development as the third phase of Richard Hills. In 2007, the town had approved 53 single-family homes on three quarter-acre lots, with the remainder held in open space. According to a release, conversion to residential development would have altered water flow, increased stormwater runoff and contributed to groundwater pollution in the area.