The purpose of our land trust is not only to take ownership of valuable lands for perpetual protection against development, but also to maximize the benefits to the web of life (humans included) that these properties can provide under careful management. Life is a part of the energy that flows through the 2,600+ acres under our care, and the more we can do to understand and ensure its diversity, balance, and continuity, the better the future will be. South Kingstown Land Trust is also mindful of the human meaning associated with our varied landscape — its history, and pre-history, and in our management we strive to make it visible and enjoyable to the public.
Through the efforts of its volunteers and staff, and with grant assistance from public and private partners, SKLT works to protect our water, soils, and wildlife habitats on our most environmentally sensitive and publicly accessible properties.
Examples include restoration of 30 acres of grassland and coastal shrubland in the coastal plains of Weeden, Bliss, and Carpenter Farms, where we cooperate with U.S. Department of Interior’s Trustom Pond Refuge, State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service efforts to protect and restore native habitats from invasive plant overgrowth and development. It is gratifying to see a rebound in grassland, and old field bird species, such as eastern bluebirds, bobolinks, seaside sparrows, meadowlarks, woodcocks, and harriers. In other locales such in Perryville and East Matunuck we work with local farmers, where cattle grazing and haying keep fields and rocky pastures open for ground-nesting birds.
Farther inland at our Yawgoo Pond and Browning Woods holdings SKLT has included in its forest management plan creating 1- to 3-acre openings for birds, mammals, and insects that depend on forest edge conditions and early successional habitats. We are preserving snags for nesting, and clearing openings for partridge, wild turkey, scarlet tanagers, and flycatchers as well as creating habitat for native bees and other pollinators.
Along inland streams and ponds we establish ample buffer zones to protect littoral and wetland habitats, to prevent erosion and sedimentation, and promote nutrient uptake. Examples include establishing 1.2-mile x 200-foot wide buffers around Yawgoo and Barber’s Ponds in West Kingston, and around the Healey Brook shoreline and flood plain on the Browning/Kenney Properties in Tuckertown, where over a mile is guarded from human disturbance.
Spadefoot Toad Breeding Pool Project at SKLT’s Bittersweet Property
How do you build an artificial breeding pool for spadefoot toads? Operation Spadefoot RI began a couple years ago and this year we are building our second pair of breeding pools for Rhode Island’s rarest amphibian. Here are some video clips showing the project underway at a site belonging to the South Kingstown Land Trust.