South Kingstown Land Trust is thrilled to announce the protection by conservation easement of five acres of forest, wetlands, and coastal plain pond shoreline off of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Highway in Matunuck, preserved by the generous donation of landowners Elise Torello and Bill McCusker.

The landowners retain ownership of the biodiverse property, where they have set up trail cameras that capture amazing footage of local wildlife populations including otters, bobcats, both red and gray foxes, a wide variety of birds, and much more.

Landowner Elise Torello commented on the project’s completion: “It was very important to Bill and me to make sure that this rare and fragile habitat will remain natural forever. I spend a lot of time documenting and enjoying the wide range of plant and animal life and the incredible beauty of this special place. We are thrilled to work with SKLT to protect it.”

The property has multiple public benefits, including protection of an important drinking water recharge area and a variety of wildlife habitats and wetlands. It is in the Matunuck Hills complex, a rare coastal plain pond habitat ecosystem located in only a few places in the state.

The property is completely within the RI DEM Natural Heritage area, which indicates an area capable of supporting rare and endangered species. The newly conserved land contains an upland forest of oak, mountain laurel, and a forested swamp along the shoreline Wash Pond.

“This donation shows such humbling generosity,” said Julia Landstreet, SKLT Executive Director. “This conservation easement adds valuable acreage to protected intact habitat. Such a gift for future generations of flora and fauna, air and water quality, and South Kingstown’s bucolic sense of place.”

Watch Elise’s trail camera videos at