Letter: Sprague Forest Preserve was the product of hard work

Letter: Sprague Forest Preserve was the product of hard work

A jewel is added to Charlestown’s emerald and sapphire crown!

The deep green forest and cool blue water of the Pawcatuck River on Charlestown’s northern border have been described by the chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission, Ruth Platner, as Charlestown’s emerald and sapphire crown—a crown made up of the river and protected land containing a diversity of natural resources featuring the area’s dramatic geological history and many unique ecological communities

On Sunday, Aug. 26, Charlestown celebrated the grand opening of the Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve. The Sprague Preserve has approximately 1,600 feet of frontage on a pristine section of the Pawcatuck River, hopefully soon to be designated by the U.S. Congress as a Wild and Scenic River. One can hike through a floodplain forest and find vernal pools, fields, and unique glacial features. Protected are water quality and important habitat for many rare plants and animals.

Patricia Sprague was devoted to conservation. Her sons, Mark and Peter, have honored her devotion to conservation by agreeing to sell this beautiful property for preservation and the creation of a permanent legacy to their mother. Thank you.

The Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve is also a testament to hard work and collaboration. The effort to secure the property began in 2014. Thank you to Karen Jarret, president of the Charlestown Land Trust, and Platner, for recognizing the value of this property. The Charlestown Land Trust worked with the owners, applied to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for a Natural Heritage Grant, and arranged a partnership with the town. Thank you all.

The DEM agreed that this property is indeed very special and awarded a grant for approximately $260,000 toward its purchase. The town supplied the balance, a little over $340,000, to purchase the property. The town now owns the Sprague Preserve, and it will be protected in perpetuity (which Karen Jarret emphasizes means “forever”!) because the Department of Environmental Management and the Charlestown Land Trust hold a joint conservation easement.

Still the work was not done. Thank you to Grace Klinger and the members of the Conservation Commission and the Friends of Conservation for their hard work — some in oppressive summer heat — to bring back old trails and install a new trail and kiosk. The Sprague Preserve is one of six town-owned properties that the Conservation Commission cares for very, very well. We are grateful.

It was a happy day in Charlestown!

Bonnie Van Slyke

The writer is a member of the Charlestown Town Council and liaison to the Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions.


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