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South Kingstown Town Manager Robert Zarnetske, Town Council President Abel Collins and members of the South Kingstown Land Trust staff and board were on hand for a formal ribbon cutting celebrating the opening of a new walking trail along the Alewife Book in SK Oct. 26. The one-mile trail is on a 43-acre parcel purchased by the Land Trust from the Rhode Island Boy Scouts in 2019.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — A new walking trail along the Alewife Brook in South Kingstown showcases a diverse mix of forest, wetlands and abundant animal life, according to the South Kingstown Land Trust.

The one-mile Alewife Brook Preserve Trail opened Oct. 26, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony by officials from the land trust and the town.

The trail is on a 43-acre parcel the land trust bought in 2019 from the Rhode Island Boy Scouts with open space bond funds from the Department of Environmental Management, the town and grants from the Bafflin Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the Champlin Foundation.

South Kingstown Land Trust Stewardship Committee chair and board director Ellen Grebstein said the opening of the new trail is exciting.

“It is tremendously important that people have accessible and safe outdoor places to enjoy, especially during these difficult times,” Grebstein said. “I am thrilled that SKLT continues to fulfill its mission of protecting open spaces for the benefit of our community.”

Most of the property, about 80 percent, is what the trust describes as typical southern Rhode Island forest, with a  canopy of scarlet, black and white oak, red maple, white and pitch pine, hickory, beech and gray birch trees. The remaining area to the south along Alewife Brook is gently sloping wetlands with dense thickets of mountain laurel, rhododendron, sweet pepperbush, red maple and alder.

The preserve is a wildlife haven for mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds. Animal tracks crisscross the property. More than 50 bird species use the area for feeding, nesting, migration stopovers, or wintering habitat, according to the land trust.

Both upland and wetland habitats can be observed from the trails.

The property is also within the principal aquifer for the area, and the land trust said its protection helps ensure safe drinking water for the community.

Alewife Brook is part of a large wetlands complex that extends well beyond the property.

The preserve abuts open space in all directions, resulting in an unfragmented forest block of 360 acres.  The land trust’s goal is to strategically connect parcels in areas of special significance, protecting green corridors for wildlife and public benefit.

The land trust has completed more than 160 land conservation projects since it began its efforts in 1983, resulting in the protection of more than 2,800 acres over the past 30 years.

Joining Land Trust Executive Director Julia Landstreet at the ribbon cutting were Town Manager Robert Zarnetske, Town Council President Abel Collins and members of land trust staff and board.

“We were delighted to partner with the land trust for this acquisition,” Zarnetske said. “This adds to the network of publicly accessible hiking trails in South Kingstown, which of course adds to the quality of life for everyone. We see this as a win-win-win: good for the municipality, good for the land trust and good for the public.”

Collins said the trail will be a welcome addition to the town’s public space.

“Really looking forward to getting out there on the trail and seeing all that this property has to offer us,” he said. “From the town’s perspective we’re always looking to increase opportunities for residents and visitors to get out into nature, especially in these times of COVID when really it’s important to get outside and keep yourself healthy. Really excited to be here, can’t wait to get out there.”

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