Good Dirt

   

May 16, 2005
 

This edition of Good Dirt contains two articles:

1)      "Miantonomi Park Permanently Secured"

2)      "Miantonomi Park Memorial Day Celebration and Walk"

 

  Photo by David Thalmann

MIANTONOMI PARK PERMANENTLY SECURED

The largest park in Newport offers public recreational opportunities, wonderful nature trails and grassy playfields where children and families can picnic and play.

 

 

 

Photo by David Thalmann

MIANTONOMI PARK MEMORIAL DAY CELEBRATION AND WALK

Participants should meet at the picnic area off Hillside Avenue at 1:00pm Monday, May 30th.  The tour will take place rain or shine, so please dress accordingly.

 

MIANTONOMI PARK PERMANENTLY SECURED

            On May 13, 2005, after working together for approximately two years, the City of Newport, the Miantonomi Memorial Park Commission, and the Aquidneck Land Trust secured the City,s largest park, Miantonomi Park, with a permanent Conservation Easement conveyed to the Land Trust by the City.  This 29.78 +/- acres conservation transaction is the largest and most important Newport project completed by the Aquidneck Land Trust to date.

            Miantonomi Park is a very unique and important place.  The park is in a densely developed portion of Newport located between Hillside Avenue and Girard Avenue, bound on the south by Admiral Kalbfus Road.  It affords numerous scenic views to the multitude of passersby in the area.  The park also has important wildlife habitat values due largely to its relatively substantial mature deciduous forest, a unique resource for an urban environment.  The park is well known for providing important bird habitat in the region and attracts a wide variety of migrating warblers during the spring season.  A number of other species have also been observed on the property: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos); Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus); Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens); Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis); and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  The park also provides a number of public recreational opportunities as it has wonderful nature trails and grassy playfields where children and families can picnic and play.  Miantonomi Park is known for its historical values as well.  It was once the seat of power for the Narragansett Indians who inhabited Aquidneck Island long before the Europeans came.  The park is named after the Narragansett Indian Sachem, or Chief, Miantonomi.  Because it is one of the highest points on Aquidneck Island, European settlers used it as a lookout.  In 1667, a beacon was built on Miantonomi Hill, and then rebuilt at the start of the Revolutionary War along with a fortification.  The Stokes family sold the property to the City of Newport in 1921.  In 1929, the Miantonomi Memorial Park Commission erected the stone tower on top of Miantonomi Hill to memorialize veterans of World War I.  This urban gem has now been secured by an Aquidneck Land Trust Conservation Easement so that it may be enjoyed for generations to come.

            A Conservation Easement is a legal agreement whereby a landowner (e.g., City of Newport) transfers a partial property interest to a conservation organization (e.g., Aquidneck Land Trust) and/or government agency to permanently limit a property,s uses (e.g., prohibit harmful development) in order to permanently protect the property,s conservation values (e.g., wildlife habitat values, recreational values, historic values, and scenic values).  The landowner remains the landowner and the conservation organization and/or government agency permanently oversees the restrictions in the Conservation Easement to ensure the property,s conservation values remain protected.

            Why place a Conservation Easement on a municipal park?  In 2004, the Aquidneck Land Trust completed an extensive mapping project that identified all of Aquidneck Island,s conserved lands.  The project demonstrated that not all conserved lands are equal.  In other words, there are different levels of protection afforded conserved lands.  For purposes of the project, three conservation levels were identified: the highest level, Land Conserved with a Perpetual Conservation Restriction (e.g., Conservation Easement); Land Conserved with a Deed Restriction; and the lowest level, Land Held with Conservation Intent alone.  Conserved lands falling into the latter two levels can be further secured with a perpetual conservation restriction such as a Conservation Easement.  Good conservation is like good government, it requires checks and balances.  A Conservation Easement can act as such a set of checks and balances.  As a result of this conservation transaction, Miantonomi Park has moved up from the Land Conserved with a Deed Restriction level (the park was subject to some general and somewhat vague deed restrictions during the 1921 conveyance from Helen Stokes to the City of Newport) to the Land Conserved with a Perpetual Conservation Restriction level.

            The Aquidneck Land Trust would like to thank the City of Newport and the Miantonomi Memorial Park Commission for their long-term vision and leadership on this important project.  The Newport City Council and Newport City staff (in particular, Paige R. Bronk, Susan Cooper, Andrew DeIonno, Joseph J. Nicholson, Jr., Esq., and Scott D. Wheeler) deserve special recognition and credit.  After the May 13th closing on the Miantonomi Park Conservation Easement, Ted Clement, the Aquidneck Land Trust,s Executive Director, stated, I have very much enjoyed working with the City of Newport and the Miantonomi Memorial Park Commission for the last two or so years on this important project.  The successful outcome of this project reminds us of the importance of partnerships to land conservation.  Our partnership on this project has helped ensure that generations and generations of Aquidneck Islanders and others, including the flora and fauna of the area, will be able to enjoy Miantonomi Park.

            The Aquidneck Land Trust has already completed 6 Conservation Easement transactions this year on a total of 109.33 +/- acres.  The Land Trust,s total conserved acreage now stands at 1,213.12 +/- acres.

MIANTONOMI PARK MEMORIAL DAY CELEBRATION AND WALK

            Join us at 1:00pm on Monday, May 30th at Miantonomi Park as we celebrate the recently completed Miantonomi Park conservation transaction and Memorial Day with the Aquidneck Land Trust,s first Land Matters Walk of 2005.

            In celebration of the realization of the Aquidneck Land Trust Conservation Easement on Miantonomi Park, the Land Trust will provide a tour of the park which will highlight the park,s unique natural and historical features.  Joining us on the tour will be Dr. Kathy Abbass, a local archaeologist and historian.  Dr. Abbass has written extensively about the history of the area and has been involved with fascinating projects including the search for the wreck of the HMB Endeavor in Newport Harbor.  Dr. Abbass will point out the park,s unique historic features during the walk.  Also accompanying us will be Dr. Numi Mitchell.  Dr. Mitchell, a local conservation biologist, has been involved with numerous conservation projects on Aquidneck Island (including a current research and education project on native coyote populations) and throughout the world.  Dr. Mitchell will help participants see and learn about the natural wonders at Miantonomi Park.  The memorial tower, built in 1929 to memorialize the veterans of World War I, on Miantonomi Hill will be open to the public both before and after the tour.  This spectacular landmark is only open two days out of every year.  Don,t miss this opportunity!

Participants should meet at the picnic area off Hillside Avenue at 1:00pm Monday, May 30th.  The tour will take place rain or shine, so please dress accordingly.

The Aquidneck Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Its mission is to preserve Aquidneck Island,s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community.  For more information, please visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org or call 401-849-2799.

 

 

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As always, thank you for your continued support
for conservation on our Island.

 


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