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Home > Programs > Bureau of Policy and Administration > Sustainable Watersheds > South County Greenspace Project


South County Greenspace Protection Strategy


Woonasqu- atucket Greenspace Project

South COunty Watersheds Greenspace project

image of Pawcatuck River image of South County Bike Path

Through the generous support of the USDA Forest Service, RI Department of Environmental Management and the Rural Lands Coalition offered the communities of Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, West Greenwich and Westerly technical assistance to identify the natural, cultural and recreational resources they want to protect. In kind, these communities offered volunteers and time as the South County Greenspace Project set out to create a regional greenspace protection strategy that portrayed the land protection goals of the towns and the region.

The greenspace protection process started with the project consultants, Dodson Associates and the University of Rhode Island, providing each town with a complete set of maps of their natural, cultural and recreational resources generated from existing Geographic Information System (GIS) data. At public workshops organized by the consultants, town volunteers updated the existing maps and data with their detailed knowledge of the area. The results were updated and complete pictures of the town's natural, cultural and recreational assets that served as the basis for greenspace protection planning. Regional workshops were held so that all the towns could meet and plan linkages along and across municipal boundaries to form a regional greenspace protection picture.

Results of these great efforts and other important project details were compiled in a project report entitled, South County Greenspace Protection Strategy. Although final project workshops and public involvement came to an end in the summer of 2002, local, state, and federal partners continue to use the greenspace data, maps, and protection strategy to achieve their community development and land protection goals. Below are several highlights of key project outcomes and recent examples of project implementation:

  • Every town received a set of maps illustrating a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of its natural, cultural and recreational resources in history. This inventory included a compilation of federal, state, local, and non-governmental data that was previously never assembled in a single set of maps.

  • Local protection priorities were mapped and linked into a regional greenspace strategy. Every community received 10 local resource maps and 16 regional maps (shown in Part III of this report), including the underlying geographic information system (GIS) data in electronic format so that it can be easily maintained.

  • The multiple values of forestland for recreation, habitat, and water quality protection were demonstrated on the greenspace maps and explained in an educational brochure called Riparian Buffers & Healthy Watersheds. The Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association also produced a report on riparian buffers and river access for the watershed.

  • An audit and written report were prepared for each community by Randall Arendt, a national expert, to recommend specific changes to comprehensive plans and zoning and subdivision regulations so towns may preserve meaningful open space and achieve their protection priorities as land is developed. Five communities - Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, North Kingstown and Richmond - are currently working to revise their ordinances to include these recommendations following the lead of South Kingstown, which has adopted the conservation development technique.

  • Towns have used the natural, cultural and recreational resource data to update their local comprehensive land use plans.

  • Twelve communities have used greenspace project maps to apply for RIDEM open space money in 2002. Six communities were successful and received a total of $1.98 million dollars to protect 495 acres.

  • Local land trusts from throughout the region banded together to form the Washington County Land Trust Coalition to promote better coordination and communication across the municipal boundaries.
South County Greenspace Protection Strategy - The Project Report

To access a section of the report, please click on its title to download it in 'portable document format (.pdf).' Please keep in mind that the resolution of this document is low for the sake of minimizing file size on the Internet; the project maps may be blurred upon magnification. If you are interested in receiving a high-resolution copy of this report and the maps on CD-R, you can also download the entire report- however, this is a very large file, and depending on your internet connection, may be difficult to access.

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Greenspace Planning Process and Methods

  3. Regional Mapping and Recommendations

  4. Recommendations for Action
  1. Overview of Project Partners
  2. South County Greenspace Project Grant Guide
  3. Report: Improving Small Craft Access and Controlling Erosion on the Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers (courtesy of the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association)

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