We are thrilled to announce the opening of our newest public trail at Alewife Brook Preserve. A small, safe ribbon cutting ceremony was held on October 26 with SKLT’s Executive Director Julia Landstreet, South Kingstown Town Manager Robert Zarnetske, South Kingstown Town Council President Abel Collins, and various members of SKLT staff and Board.
“We were delighted to partner with the Land Trust for this acquisition,” Zarnetske notes. “This adds to the network of publicly accessible hiking trails in South Kingstown which of course adds to the quality of life for everyone. We see this as a win-win-win, good for the municipality, good for the Land Trust, and good for the public.”
Abel Collins, the official ribbon cutter, is also excited for all the trail has to offer. “Really looking forward to getting out there on the trail and seeing all that this property has to offer us. From the town’s perspective we’re always looking to increase opportunities for residents and visitors to get out into nature, especially in these times of COVID when really it’s important to get outside and keep yourself healthy. Really excited to be here, can’t wait to get out there.”
Ellen Grebstein, SKLT Stewardship Committee Chair and Board Director, also attended the ribbon cutting festivities. “The opening of the new Alewife Brook Trail is exciting news,” Grebstein remarks. “It is tremendously important that people have accessible and safe outdoor places to enjoy, especially during these difficult times. I am thrilled that SKLT continues to fulfill its mission of protecting open spaces for the benefit of our community.”
The 1.0 mile Alewife Brook Trail traverses a fine example of typical southern Rhode Island forest. Approximately 79 percent of this property hosts an upland forest canopy of scarlet, black, and white oak, red maple, white and pitch pine, hickory, beech and gray birch. The remaining 21 percent to the south along Alewife Brook is gently sloping wetlands with dense thickets of mountain laurel, rhododendron, sweet pepperbush, red maple, and alder. Both upland and wetland habitats can be observed from the trails here.
Alewife Brook is part of a large wetlands complex that extends well beyond the property. Wetlands reduce flood and storm damages and protect water quality. This property is in the principal aquifer for the area, and its protection helps ensure safe drinking water for our community. The Preserve is a wildlife haven for mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and birds. Animal tracks crisscross the property. Over 50 bird species use the area for feeding, nesting, migration stopovers, or wintering habitat.
The Preserve abuts open spaces in all directions, resulting in an unfragmented forest block of 360 acres and fulfilling SKLT’s goal to strategically connect parcels in areas of special significance, protecting green corridors for wildlife and public benefit.
In 2019 SKLT purchased the 43-acre property from the Rhode Island Boy Scouts with open space bond funds from RIDEM, the Town of South Kingstown, and grants from the Bafflin Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the Champlin Foundation.