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RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
DEM RECEIVES GRANT FOR WOONASQUATUCKET RIVER WATERSHED
Funds Will Help Six Communities to Protect and Improve Water Quality By Protecting and Improving Greenspace
PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management, on behalf of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council and the six communities of the watershed, has been awarded a $100,000 clean water action grant by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The funds will be used to improve water quality in the Woonasquatucket River by protecting and managing existing forestland, and encouraging the restoration of contiguous forestland and undeveloped greenspaces.
The Woonasquatucket River watershed is a diverse geographic area that originates in the rural lands of Glocester, North Smithfield and Smithfield, and extends 18 miles into the urbanized communities of Johnston, North Providence and Providence. Half of its 43 miles of rivers and tributaries are impaired due to metals contamination from earlier industrial uses along the river, and from nonpoint sources of pollution such as runoff from parking lots and roadways. Greenspace protection is one of the most effective ways of protecting the water from nonpoint source pollution.
This project will help the watershed communities identify important natural, cultural and recreational resources. Under the project, DEM will contract with the University of Rhode Island’s Environmental Data Center to create Geographic Information System maps of those resources. Each of the communities, with the assistance of a consultant to be hired by DEM, will then customize the maps and prioritize areas for protection. Together, they will establish a plan to link those prioritized areas and create a strategy to implement protection of greenspace on a regional basis. The project will begin by early next spring, and continue through 2002.
The Woonasquatucket River has been designated an American Heritage River by President Clinton. DEM has also designated the river as a pilot watershed for the development of a collaborative, ecosystem-based approach to environmental protection, and is working closely with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. Activities within the watershed have become a major emphasis of the Department, which has already committed close to $1 million in resources for activities to preserve, protect and restore the watershed over the past two years.