The Town of North Kingstown has a long-standing land conservation and open space protection program. The Open Space Map (above) shows all of this protected land.
There are approximately 8,300 acres of land preserved as open space through such mechanisms as residential compound development, cluster development, planned village development and public spaces including the Town Beach, Ryan Park, Rome Point, Wilson Park, Cocumscussoc State Park, Calf Pasture Point and the municipal golf course. In total, these represent approximately 30 percent of the Town’s land area. The town also projects property through the purchase of development rights and conservation easements as well as through outright purchase. The Town works collaboratively with several local and state agencies to protect farmland, wetlands, shorelines, woodlands, wildlife, trails, and open spaces of North Kingstown.
From a state perspective, the RIDEM operates a land conservation program as well. This land conservation page provides information on state-wide conservation efforts, grant opportunities as well as the outdoor recreation plan. The RIDEM Map Room provide a wide variety of natural-resource mapping for the entire state.
Local Conservation Groups
There are several local conservation-minded organizations that are active in North Kingstown and have been partners with the town on many of the property protection actions noted above. The following are some of those groups:
The Land Conservancy of North Kingstown (LCNK) is a private, non-profit, tax-exempt organization working to protect the wetlands, woodlands, wildlife, trails, and open spaces of North Kingstown. Their web site includes a list of the properties they helped to protect by either outright purchase or conservation easement.as well as information about their conservation work and upcoming events. The town has partnered with the LCNK on several property acquisitions and easement purchases as well as other conservation projects such as the Mill Cove Causeway project in town.
Narrow River Land Trust (NRLT) preserves land in the Narrow River watershed to protect water and agricultural resources, wildlife habitat, and open space for recreation. We work cooperatively with private owners and local communities to ensure that these areas are protected now and for future generations. The town has partnered with the NRLT on several property acquisitions and easement purchases in the watershed. The Land Trust Alliance page provides some additional data on the accomplishments of the NRLT. .
Narrow River Preservation Association (NRPA) works to preserve, protect, and restore the natural environment and the quality of life for all communities within the Narrow River (Pettaquamscutt Estuary) and Watershed. Their web site provides good information regarding their mission, events, programs and resources related to the watershed.
Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI) protects birds, other wildlife and their habitat through conservation, education and advocacy for the benefit of people and all living things. ASRI has protected several properties across North Kingstown. Their web site has information related to their programming, hikes, and advocacy. They have also mapped all of their wildlife refuge areas where hiking is an option, including the Davis Memorial Wildlife Refuge in North Kingstown.
The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. In Rhode Island, they have worked to protect many properties including King's Preserve in North Kingstown. Their web site highlights their priorities, volunteer opportunities, and history of the organization.
The RI Conservation Committee is also a helpful resource for state conservation information. The Rhode Island State Conservation Committee has been established within the Department of Environmental Management to serve as an agency of the State and to perform the functions conferred upon it by Chapter 2-4 of the Rhode Island General Laws. These functions include coordination of Conservation District activities with other federal, state and local entities regarding natural resources within the State of Rhode Island. The RI State Conservation Committee continues to provide assistance and support to the three Conservation Districts in their efforts to assist local landowners and municipalities in the proper stewardship of our lands and waters. To this end, the Committee works with state and federal agencies to promote the districts' mission on both the state and national level, while still providing administrative and program support.
The Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts, incorporated August 1995, is a 501-c-3 organization whose mission is to attract public and charitable monies that can be used by the three State of Rhode Island Conservation Districts for their work in the stewardship of the State's natural resources through education, outreach, and technical assistance and to assist and support the districts in their endeavors.The Conservation Districts were established in Rhode Island by State Law in 1944. The function of the Districts is to take available technical, financial, and educational resources and focus or coordinate them so that they meet the needs of the local land user for conservation of soil, water, and related resources. They operate on a premise that local people know the most about local needs. The districts do not regulate or enforce laws.
The Southern RI Conservation District (SRICD) has a mission to promote and achieve a healthy environment and sustainable use of natural resources for the people of Kent and Washington Counties and the State of Rhode Island, now and for the future, by coordinating partners to provide technical, educational and financial resources. SRICD works directly with USDA NRCS to accomplish and improve the process for NRCS Outreach and Education, Conservation Technical Assistance, Wetland Restoration, enhancing Fish and Wildlife Habitat, Grassland and Forestland Ecosystems, improving Soil Quality, Water Management, Water Quality, Energy Conservation, and Forest/Farmland Conservation. Their web site includes a list of the services they provide including conservation planning and technical services, mapping, signage, outreach and education as well as project specific information such as the Duck Cove Restoration project here in North Kingstown.
The Town of North Kingstown has a strong groundwater protection program. The groundwater underlying the town is the sole source of its existing and future drinking water supply. Please see the Water Department's page for additional information.
The RIDEM also regulates water quality for the state. Their water quality web site includes how they protect and regulate groundwater, surface water as well as wetlands.
Being a shoreline community, there many coastal, environmental issues that impact North Kingstown. The RI CRMC regulates many of the activities that take place along the shoreline. Their regulations are primarily found in their "Red Book", also referenced below under wetlands. The Red Book includes policies and regulations necessary to manage the coastal resources of the state and to provide for the integration and coordination of the protection of natural resources, the promotion of reasonable coastal-dependent economic growth, and the improved protection of life and property from coastal hazards.
The RI CRMC also has several special area managements plans for different part of the state. Locally, the Narrow River Special Area Management Plan describes the present status of the river, characterizes its watershed, identifies sources of pollution, and recommends specific actions to restore, protect and preserve the highly regarded natural resource in the Narrow River. The RIDEM has developed the Narrow River Watershed Plan (Draft) that has been out for public comment for several weeks. The plans is intended to guide actions to protect and restore the quality of the water resources and aquatic habitats in the Narrow River watershed. The plan includes a description of the water resource conditions as well as the pollutants, other stressors and threats to water resources. It also includes a history of key actions that have been taken to protect and improve the the water resources in the watershed.
The Town of North Kingstown comprehensive plan, available above, has specific actions centered around pollinators and pollinator habitats. one of the actions includes developing ways to convert lawns to pollinator habitats including but not limited to incentive programs, working with homeowner associations to convert common open space, and identifying town parks and public lands that could also serve as public education projects. As taken from the plan, pollinator habitats are wildflower plantings that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. They can range in scale from a window box to acres of wildflower meadows. Pollinator habitats are an important intervention to mitigate the decline of pollinators due to pesticides, loss of habitat, disease and climate change. The added benefits of pollinator habitats include reduced need for irrigation, fertilizer, and mowing, as well as beautification.
The RIDEM has a pollinator working group that has formed to maintain, protect and enhance pollinator habitat and health in Rhode Island.
The North Kingstown Department of Public Works takes the lead on municipal stormwater systems. Their stormwater web site provides information for homeowner's associations as well as individual homeowners, useful information on understanding stormwater for residents as well as how people should be managing yard waste, and links to helpful stormwater resources.
The RIDEM regulates stormwater for Rhode Island. Their stormwater website provides information as to how they seek to to preserve, protect, and improve the state's water resources from polluted stormwater runoff.
The Conservation Commission also sits as the Tree Board for North Kingstown. The Street Tree Ordinance which includes the responsibilities of the tree board can be accessed here: Street Tree Ordinance
The Arbor Day Foundation website provides great information on the importance of trees.
The Rhode Island Tree Council has a mission to help improve Rhode Island’s tree resources, build healthy and vibrant urban forests, and educates citizens about urban forestry. Their web site has specific information for Rhode Island resources about being a tree steward, upcoming events, tree care and champion trees in our state.
The RIDEM also has a Forest Environment division that manages 40,000 acres of state-owned rural forestland. Their web site provides information on forest-related businesses, stewardship, forest health and available grants such as the America the Beautiful program.
The RI Tree Farm Program formed to promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry.
The RIDEM regulates inland freshwater wetland resources in Rhode Island. Their web site provides extensive resources on wetlands such as permitting, frequently asked questions, the wetlands application process, wetlands restoration and wetlands monitoring.
The RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) regulates coastal wetlands in Rhode Island. The Freshwater Wetlands in the Vicinity of the Coast publication explains their jurisdiction. The "Red Book" outlines how CRMC manages the coastal resources of the state and to provide for the integration and coordination of the protection of natural resources, the promotion of reasonable coastal-dependent economic growth, and the improved protection of life and property from coastal hazards, including how they regulate wetlands in their jurisdiction.
North Kingstown is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Many of the areas that are home to this wildlife have been protected by the land conservation measures noted above. The comprehensive plan has a goal of protecting, preserving and restoring natural resources, including wildlife habitat, water quality, scenic and forested landscapes. A healthy ecosystem needs biodiversity and is essential to our clean air, water and food supply. North Kingstown's natural resources include forests, wetlands and salt marshes, surface and groundwater bodies, and wildlife all of which play a key role in providing ecosystem services such as pollination, decomposition, water purification, erosion and flood control, and carbon storage and climate regulation.
The RIDEM Wildlife Action Plan can be viewed on their web site. It provides a comprehensive approach to wildlife conservation in Rhode Island.