Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Rhode Island DEM purchases critical 189-acre parcel in Burrillville, connecting over 7,000 acres of protected land

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has acquired 189 acres of land in Burrillville from the Boy Scouts of Rhode Island. The parcel is situated adjacent to over 7,000 acres of state-preserved land. To the north of the property lies the 2,084-acre Buck Hill Management Area, and to the south is the 5,203-acre George Washington/Durfee Hill Management Area. The property also abuts Connecticut's Quaddick State Forest to the west. This property is considered among the highest priority conservation parcels in the state, and the high concentration of protected land in the area allows for increased habitat protection with minimal disturbance.

The land features a myriad of uncommon species and habitats of both plants and animals. Plant species include locally-common conifers such as White Pine and Eastern Hemlock and tree species such as American Larch and Black Spruce, which are typically associated with northern forest habitats. Many rare plants have been identified on the property including Common Oak Fern, Round-leaved Orchid, One-flowered Pyrola. Identifying and protecting these species helps ensure that diverse habitats such as that of the Burrillville property are sustained.

Preservation of the property strongly aligns with the state's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, which aims to identify and conserve those species in greatest need for conservation while retaining a holistic view of all wildlife within the state. Croff Farm Brook runs through the property and fosters an array of aquatic habitats that are not typically found in Rhode Island. The Croff Farm Brook area contains springs which are considered uncommon, isolated habitats, as well as several rare species identified by the conservation strategy as Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

"DEM was so pleased to work in partnership with the Boy Scouts to protect this valuable habitat," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "This acquisition is particularly exciting because it will ensure that Rhode Islanders will be able to continue to use this property, a place where many scouts and others have enjoyed this spectacular natural area. Because this parcel sits within one of the largest undisturbed areas in all of Rhode Island, it is particularly valuable for wildlife. The amount of rare and uncommon species on this property is amazing!"

The property acquired by DEM is connected to larger conservation areas that surround it, providing increased land protection in the northwest corner of the state.

"The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is proud to work with our longtime partners the DEM and Champlin Foundations to assist with the conservation of this very important property," said TNC State Director Terry Sullivan. "The forests in the northwest of our state provide so many benefits to the people of RI, including wonderful recreation opportunities, protection of freshwater supplies and room for wildlife to thrive. It is perfectly fitting that this place, where so many young men learned to appreciate the importance of nature, will now be protected for many more generations of Rhode Islanders to enjoy."

John H. Mosby, Scout Executive/CEO, Narragansett Council Boy Scouts of America said, "We are pleased to collaborate with the Department of Environmental Management to preserve this important habitat and protect the many rare species living in this part of the state. The Boy Scouts of America has always been a leader in conservation, and has been teaching our Scouts about Leave No Trace camping since 1910, so it is only natural that we would work with the DEM to put those ideals into practice in Rhode Island. As one of the largest land conservation organizations in Rhode Island, we are proud to be able to continue our century-old tradition of providing protected environments for our Scouts to enjoy and learn about through our Scouting educational programs."

The State's contribution to this conservation project from voter approved bond funds accounted for less than 10 percent of the total purchase price. The total cost of the acquisition was $900,000. DEM provided $83,000 from state Open Space Bond funds, $367,000 was provided by a federal wildlife incentive grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and $450,000 came from grant funds provided by The Nature Conservancy and The Champlin Foundations.

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