Land preservationists from all over the country – Maine, Hawaii, Arizona and Idaho, to name just a few examples – have descended on Rhode Island for the annual National Land Conservation Conference Rally, which is being hosted in Providence this weekend.
“Rhode Island’s natural beauty and our strong history of land trust and land conservation is why the Land Trust Alliance chose The Ocean State to host its annual ‘Rally’,” said Rupert Friday, director of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council. A press release from the group says, “Although Rhode Island is the smallest state, it has more Land Trusts per square mile than any other state in the union.”
Starting Wednesday through Sunday attendees will be visiting some of the most bueautiful – and best protected – places in Rhode Island. The field trips are for conference members, but you can see a full list here.
Read Rupert Friday’s thoughts on the conference and why land preservation is a progressive cause below.
Rhode Island’s Special Places Are Worth Protecting
By Rupert Friday
All Rhode Islanders have their own special places in the state. We ought to, there are plenty to go around.
It might be a city park or community garden in Providence or Woonsocket. A place along any of the 420 miles of scenic marshes, rocky shoreline, and beaches from Little Compton to Newport to Westerly. Or along the banks of a river or stream: the Blackstone, Pawtuxet or your neighborhood creek. Or your special place could be a working farm framed by stone walls in Middletown, Richmond, Cranston, or Cumberland.
These special places are part of the fabric of our communities and one of the reasons why we live here.
This appreciation of Rhode Island’s natural beauty and productive farmland is why residents have formed land trusts around the state to protect these places. Rhode Islanders have formed over 45 land trusts and they are playing a large part in preserving, conserving and promoting the state’s special places. Collectively, land trusts are protecting over 36,825 acres of land in Rhode Island. This is nearly one-quarter of all the land protected in the state. Most of this work is done by volunteers. And, although Rhode Island is the smallest state, it has more land trusts per square mile than any other state in the union.
Rhode Island’s natural beauty and our strong history of land trust and land conservation is why the Land Trust Alliance chose The Ocean State to host its annual “Rally” – The National Land Conservation Conference, from September 17 – 20 in Providence. Held each year in a different region around the nation, Rally will bring together nearly 2,000 preeminent land trust leaders from around the country to Providence to network, share the latest innovations for land conservation, and to learn about the latest trends from land conservation professionals.
Rally participants will also get to enjoy Rhode Island’s best through day-long field trips that highlight many of the state’s natural attractions…a walk in Neutaconkanut Hill and its stunning vista of the state’s capital; a tour of the trails and forests, fields and beaches along the Sakonnet River; and a taste of the “pond-to-table” aquaculture in South County with locally grown oysters and seafood. The biking, kayaking and hiking that Rally participants will enjoy during field trips highlight the beauty and fantastic outdoor recreation opportunities available every day to Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Island’s protected lands − parks, beaches, wildlife habitat, some working farms, and other special places in our communities − do more than just protect the beautiful places in our communities and enhance our quality of life. These protected lands − a quiltwork across the state, with different places protected by land trusts, municipalities, the state and the federal government − are the foundation for important sectors of the state’s economy: tourism, outdoor recreation, and agriculture. Rhode Island’s beauty and protected lands are one of the key reasons why the national Rally is being held in Providence this week. They are the reason that families from all over the nation and the world have been coming to Rhode Island for outdoor recreation for generations. And much of our fresh, locally produced food is grown on protected farmland.
You don’t have to wait until you have out-of-state visitors to enjoy Rhode Island’s protected places. Rhode Island land trusts have organized Land Trust Days activities through the end of September to help you discover them. Check out the activities on RILandTrustDays.org. Or if you and your friends and family prefer a DIY (do it yourself) approach to getting outdoors, you can find a trail to walk or kayak-launch location on ExploreRI.org.
Proud Rhode Islanders have always known where we live, work and play has wonderful places to get outdoors and enjoy natural resources that no other state can offer, bar none. Following the national Rally for land trust enthusiasts, that word will be spread from coast-to-coast: Rhode Island is indeed a special place.