More than twenty percent of Aquidneck Island is now conserved, according to the .
The (ALT) will soon mail out statistics and maps to residents with the latest view of Aquidneck Island's protected areas. The ALT works to conserve various natural resource types across Aquidneck Island, which have value for wildlife habitat, agriculture, water quality, outdoor recreational space or scenic vistas.
In the past, such programs might have only been of interest to nature enthusiasts; but beach closures, rising seas and increased storms have caught the attention of both governmental bodies and residents, who realize the preservation of our land and water might be critical to our future.
A month ago, a demonstrated that climate change has had measurable impacts to Aquidneck Island.
Ted Clement, Executive Director of ALT, said while progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done.
“In 2000, I would guess that about 15 percent of Aquidneck Island was conserved,” he said. “In 2004, after we completed our first study of all the island’s conserved lands, 16.6 percent of the island was conserved. Now, 20.6% of the island is conserved.”
Compare that to the percentage of land area conserved for other large islands in the Northeast: Manhattan, 19 percent; Block Island, 34 percent; Martha’s Vineyard, 36 percent; and Nantucket, 45 percent.
The good news is there are are many opportunities to protect undeveloped land.
Last year, the ALT completed a year-long prioritization study of all the remaining and threatened open space parcels within Aquidneck Island’s seven primary watersheds. The study identified almost 300 open space parcels, representing over 3,000 acres, at risk of development within Aquidneck Island’s main watersheds.
In addition to the maps that will be mailed next week, residents will also have the opportunity to view and search Middletown conserved land on the soon-to-be-launched
Once land is developed, it is an irreversible decision, said Clement. He stressed the need for residents to get involved as much as they do on key municipal issues.
"Good conservation is like good government," he said. "It requires checks and balances, and not all conserved lands have adequate checks and balances."