In 2001 the South Kingstown Land Trust protected 12 acres of land on Yawgoo pond that was poised to become a subdivision, and since then the Land Trust has continued working with landowners there and now preserves about half of the shoreline of the pond. SKLT is very happy to announce that we have successfully protected an additional 33 acres owned by the Littlefield family, on the northeast side of the pond. First, SKLT thanks the family for sticking with this project for over a decade until it became reality this month: Abigail Littlefield, Kim Littlefield, Ivory Littlefield, Richard Littlefield and Susan Littlefield. Their perseverance demonstrates their family’s continued commitment to the preservation of this area.
Kim notes: “The Wells property has been loved and cared for by our family since 1908. Our father Chris Littlefield was part of the small group that founded the South Kingstown Land Trust in 1983. The preservation of this land in its natural state has long been a hope and a dream for all of us. We are delighted to see that happen, thanks to SKLT, and particularly, Joanne Riccitelli.”
Funding for this project was provided by grants from the RI Department of Environmental Management, the Town of South Kingstown, the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Bafflin Foundation, as well as private donations and a bargain sale from the family.
SKLT plans to expand its popular Yawgoo Pond trail onto about 20 acres of the newly acquired land, which will also be accessed by the existing trailhead parking area on Barber’s Pond Road. The site has excellent examples of forest and wetland habitats – oak and white pine forest, coastal pondshore, and vernal pools, with a remarkable absence of non-native, invasive plants. Abundant pignut hickory trees provide valuable food source for wildlife, especially large and small mammals. Rare plants and communities are evident, as are excellent examples of typical Rhode Island natural communities. Many species of birds live in the forest and visit the pond, including whippoorwill, pileated woodpecker, bufflehead, hooded merganser and migrant warblers.
Yawgoo Pond is an excellent example of an undisturbed coastal plain pond shore community, a globally vulnerable natural community type found only within the North Atlantic Coast region. Fed only by rain or springs, these ponds are characterized by dramatically variable water tables. The unusual plants and plant communities that survive along their alternately parched and inundated shores are conservation targets. Maintenance of forest in the surrounding uplands of such ponds is critical for maintaining water quality.
This land preserves groundwater quality as well. The site is located within a sole source aquifer, a groundwater recharge area and a Groundwater Protection Overlay District, as defined by the Town of South Kingstown in its Comprehensive Plan.