PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announces the permanent protection of 58 acres of forestland in Hopkinton for public recreational use including hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting.
The property abuts DEM’s Rockville Management Area and sits within 2,000 acres of contiguous protected land owned by DEM, the Audubon Society of RI, and The Nature Conservancy that is open to the public for recreational activities.
"We invite visitors to explore this beautiful forested land in Hopkinton and soak in the wonders of nature,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Rockville Management Area is a delightful place to hike, do some bird-watching, or simply enjoy spending time outdoors. I'm thrilled that we've been able to preserve this valuable parcel of property in the southwest region of the state for public recreation. Rhode Islanders truly enjoy these special places and the positive benefit these natural assets provide to our quality of life.”
The property features 1,300 feet of frontage on Blue Pond and was the last remaining unprotected frontage on the pond.
With this acquisition, Blue Pond is now nearly fully encircled by conservation land. Ledge outcroppings overlooking Blue Pond dot the property, which is covered with red maple and red and black oak with an understory of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and blueberry. An existing trail runs from Canonchet Road to Blue Pond and has the potential to link into existing trails at Rockville Management Area.
The 1,000-acre Rockville Management Area contains four freshwater ponds: Ell Pond, Long Pond, Ashville Pond, and Blue Pond. Although consisting mostly of forest cover, it also has characteristics of a southern New England bog. Parts of it developed at the edges of glacial ponds into highly acidic, low oxygen wetlands where plants grow on the partly decayed remains of other plants, which accumulate into a peat layer. Many of its tree and plant species are evergreen — which helps reduce the loss of nutrients stored in leaves — such as the Atlantic white cedar, and it includes thick rhododendron forests. The management area supports habitat capable of providing for a wide variety of game wildlife including cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, fox, coyote, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and woodcock.
DEM purchased the property for $250,000 from Marjorie and Christopher R. Allen, with funding provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Restoration Program. “I have been blessed to be able to grow up in this beautiful place, and to raise my children exploring these woods. My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to preserve it for future generations,” said Marjorie Allen.
The federal Wildlife Restoration Program is a user-pay, user-benefit program that is derived from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and arrow components, and is apportioned to states.
The acquisition of the Allen property exemplifies how these taxes are used for critical habitat protection as well as additional recreational opportunities for the public. Match to the federal funds was provided by the value of a related land parcel purchased with state bond funds.