This Thanksgiving season we are deeply thankful for you!
Your support has helped the Aquidneck Land Trust ("ALT") accomplish so much this year:
· January 2012, ALT and the East Bay Met School signed a Conservation Collaboration Agreement recognizing that young people in particular have a major stake in what Aquidneck Island's environment will be like, and that the future quality of our environment is in the process of being determined now. As part of this, the students raised money so that their entire student body could become ALT members;
· January 2012, as part of ALT's Newport Conservation Initiative, ALT, with the support of the Bilden family, completed its project of removing the last remaining overhead utility poles and lines along the critical scenic four mile stretch of Ocean Drive from Bellevue Avenue to Castle Hill;
· February 2012, as part of ALT's Newport Conservation Initiative, ALT acquired a Conservation Easement from the City of Newport on Coggeshall School's large playground area to ensure the land will remain a public park for the families in the densely developed Van Zandt Avenue and Evarts Street neighborhoods;
· February 2012, ALT submitted a proposal to the Town of Portsmouth to conserve and enhance the Glen. As part of this proposal, a new public waterfront park would be created with the demolition of the Elmhurst School. The proposal has received widespread public support. 15 local organizations and committees have endorsed the proposal thus far. On June 11th, the Town Council approved our proposal in concept and endorsed putting the proposal before the voters by April 30, 2013;
· April 2012, ALT completed its 2012 Aquidneck Island's Conserved Lands Mapping Project. The results of this study were put into an attractive color pamphlet that was mailed to Aquidneck Island residents and businesses. About 15% of the island's land area was conserved in 2000, and this study demonstrated that percentage has grown to 20.6% of our land area being protected. In August 2000, ALT had conserved about 500 acres on 12 properties, and now ALT has conserved over 2,415 acres on 67 properties;
· ALT put on our well attended 2012 Conservation Speaker Series for the public: on April 19th, in collaboration with newportFILM, the documentary film Last Call at the Oasis was presented at the Jane Pickens Theater - the film addressed the global water crisis; on October 18th, in collaboration with the Newport Harbor Corporation, Chef Casey Riley and Chef Jonathan Cambra presented Green Eating, about ways to eat in an environmentally sustainable manner, at the Green Valley Country Club; and on November 8th, Dr. Robert A. Carrellas presented Nature as Nurturer: Protecting Land to Protect Our Health at Sweet Berry Farm;
· ALT put on our 2012 Land Matters Walk and Talk Series for the public: May 12th tour of Morton Park; June 16th tour of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail; and June 30th tour of the Oakland Forest and Meadow Preserve;
· May 2012, ALT announced its 2012 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grant recipients. This year, ALT gave multiple small grants, totaling $7,250 , to 14 local neighborhood groups and community associations for the preservation and creative use of small open spaces (e.g., the creation and maintenance of community gardens) so as to help promote conservation at the grassroots level;
· July 2012, ALT completed its fundraising for its Campaign to Save the St. Mary’s Church Land almost a year ahead of schedule! ALT raised $3,075,490 from 3 governmental entities, 6 foundations and over 40 individuals;
· September 2012, ALT and the Town of Middletown acquired a $500,000 Conservation Easement on 28.69 acres of the strategic Corey/Sears Farm on Wyatt Road in Middletown, identified as a Tier 1 priority property for watershed protection in ALT's watersheds study from 2011; and
· October 2012, ALT completed and opened the final 5 +/- mile segment of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Aquidneck Island's largest public nature trail, with Governor Chafee and RIDEM Director Coit. Our Sakonnet Greenway Trail was many years in the making. For example, for about 10 years, ALT diligently worked and negotiated with a number of visionary landowners to secure 11 Trail Easements in order to lay the legal foundation so that the dream of our 10 +/- mile Sakonnet Greenway Trail could become reality.
This Thanksgiving, I would encourage you to get out and walk on the new section of our Sakonnet Greenway Trail to work off all that feasting and reflect on how much lasting green good we have created for current and future generations. I feel very blessed to have worked with you all on this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Edward Sortwell Clement, Jr.