Friday, October 26th, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit and Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) Executive Director Ted Clement led the Grand Opening of ALT’s new 5 +/- mile segment of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Aquidneck Island’s largest public nature trail, at the Wyatt Road soccer complex in Middletown. After opening remarks, the enthusiastic and large group of participants went on a short walk on part of the new trail segment to Newport Vineyards where wine, cheese and other refreshments were served.
The new 5 +/- mile segment of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, all located on the western side of Mitchell’s Lane in Middletown, connects to the previously built 5 +/- mile segment of the trail that runs from The Glen in Portsmouth south to the Newport National Golf Course land on the east side of Mitchell’s Lane. ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail is now 10 +/- miles in length!
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. ALT publicly thanks these wonderful landowners: F. James Hodges and Sheila H. Hodges; Newport National Golf Club; Newport Vineyards; The Pennfield School; Town of Middletown; Town of Portsmouth; and the van Beuren family.
ALT also worked for many years on securing all of the necessary funds for the creation of the 10 +/- mile Sakonnet Greenway Trail from visionary donors too numerous to list here. Many donors gave $20,000 or more to the project: BankNewport; Hope Goddard Iselin Foundation; Kathy and Pierre Irving; James and Susan Klau; The Nature Conservancy through a grant from The Champlin Foundations; Newport County Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation; Newport Harbor Corporation; Newport National Golf Course; Lisette Prince; Tiffany & Co. Foundation; and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. ALT publicly thanks all of our wonderful donors, large and small, to the Sakonnet Greenway Trail project.
The Sakonnet Greenway Trail winds its way down the eastern side of Aquidneck Island through the Sakonnet Greenway and provides Aquidneck Island’s 60,000 +/- residents and approximate 3 million annual visitors with the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and natural resources of the island, free of charge, while directly benefiting from the years of focused land conservation work in this area by ALT and its cherished partners.
The Sakonnet Greenway Trail is a living classroom where students, teachers and the general public can directly experience, learn about and bond with nature. Various age appropriate Sakonnet Greenway Trail lesson plans, which ALT developed with Salve Regina University, have been distributed to schools on Aquidneck Island to encourage students and teachers to get outside. Experiential education is the most powerful form of environmental education because people tend to only actively take care of that which they directly experience and love. Thus, the Sakonnet Greenway Trail is helping us grow future conservationists.
There are also many other benefits afforded by the Sakonnet Greenway Trail. It is a free and healthy recreational and exercise resource for the public (e.g., the trail is used by many running clubs and cross-country teams). It is the largest, safe pedestrian corridor connecting multiple municipalities on Aquidneck Island. Portsmouth’s main public recreation area, The Glen, is now connected via the trail to Middletown’s large public recreation area/soccer complex on Wyatt Road. The Sakonnet Greenway Trail distinguishes Aquidneck Island as a desirable place to live, work and visit which is critical for our economy. The trail is also an important resource for leashed pets. Equestrian riding is allowed on certain sections of the Sakonnet Greenway Trail. Furthermore, the Sakonnet Greenway Trail serves as a valuable wildlife habitat corridor.
ALT’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. The organization has conserved 2,415.19 acres on 67 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.
As always, thank you for your continued support
for conservation on our Island.