RICHMOND — When he learned that the town would not be able to contribute $10,000 to a proposed Beaver River Watershed study, a resident stepped in and donated the money. The donation means that the study, if approved, can move forward.

The donor, John Peixinho, owns the historic Samuel Clarke Farm on Lewiston Avenue. He said the study had personal significance for him because his property borders the river.

“It seemed like there was a real need this year because of the budget and it made me want to help,” he said. “I have an  interest in the Beaver River because it's the western boundary of my 40 acres and I think that the water quality and the health of the associated ecosystem are important, especially given the potential for solar sprawl in that section of Richmond.”

James Turek, who chairs the Conservation Commission, told the council at its April 23 meeting that the commission had submitted a pre-proposal to the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the Environmental Protection Agency's Southern New England Program Watershed Restoration Project, requesting $30,000 for a study of the Beaver River watershed. 

In his presentation, Turek described the river as “one of our most important resources needing conservation, restoration and protection.” 

The river flows south from James Pond in Exeter, just south of Route 165, and is almost entirely within Richmond. It flows for 11 miles before it joins the Pawcatuck River near Shannock, and eventually discharges into Little Narragansett Bay. It is one of eight tributaries in the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed to have been declared part of the national Wild and Scenic river system. 

The $30,000 grant requires matching funds, so the Conservation Commission asked the town to allocate $10,000 in the capital budget to fulfill the required non-federal match. The council determined that the town was facing a difficult budget year could not contribute the funds.

Two weeks later at the May 7 meeting, Turek told the council that Peixinho’s donation had made it possible for the commission to proceed with the grant application, which must be submitted by May 15.

“By sheer luck, we have a person stepping forward to provide that match,” he said.

If it goes forward, the study will identify important natural resources as well as possible habitat enhancement and restoration projects.

Several additional assessments will be included in the project: changes in land use along the river and their effects on water quality, dam removals and improved passage for migratory fish, the benefits of restoring riparian or riverside buffers, best management practices for improving water quality, including water temperature, and the protection of land through conservation easements and acquisition.

An outside company will conduct the study. The town will first have to allocate the funds, but it will be reimbursed within nine months.

“We have $10,000 coming in as a donation and that would cover the first several months, anyway,” Turek said.

In addition to the Conservation Commission and the Richmond Rural Preservation Land Trust, several town departments including the town administrator, Planning Department and Department of Public Works will be participating in the project, which is expected to take three months.

After approving the grant application, the council formally thanked Peixinho for his donation.

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