2014-12-04 / Nature

Sachuest a Place for Learning

By Jack Kelly

Cub Scouts use the high powered binoculars at the Island Rocks observation deck to view waterfowl in the Sakonnet River. Cub Scouts use the high powered binoculars at the Island Rocks observation deck to view waterfowl in the Sakonnet River. With spectacular ocean vistas, and a wide variety of plant and animal species, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is one of the true gems of nature on Aquidneck Island. Its habitats include wetlands, fields, meadows, rocky ocean coastlines, and brush, and wooded areas, that support multiple mammal, insect, reptile, amphibian, and bird species. Native plants provide food, cover and nesting materials for all refuge residents.

The state-of-the-art Visitors’ Center houses biological displays that portray many of the wildlife species that frequent or live within the boundaries of the property. One area traces the 10,000-year history of the region from Native American Wampanoag encampments to present day. The geological history of the Sachuest Point rock formations is also examined.

Sarah Griffith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer coordinator, explained, “We host a number of public, private and home-schooled children through field trips, as well as scout groups and other organized activities for children. They are able to explore the displays and learn firsthand the importance of habitat conservation and how it relates to different species.”

Shannon Griffith, a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island, recently conducted a classroom session and field walk with 10 Cub Scout Weblos. Cub Pack #2, from Bristol, was beginning work on their naturalist ctivity Pins. After a classroom orientation on wildlife observation and identification, Griffith led the group on a nature walk of discovery.

The Island Rocks observation platform allowed the young scouts to view waterfowl, spotting Common Eider, Harlequin ducks, and a variety of gulls. Other species, including Bufflehead ducks, a female Red-breasted Merganser, and a Horned Grebe, were sighted from the Flint Point platform. The group was also able to identify deer tracks, as well as scat from a deer and a coyote, during their trek along the trails. Griffith will continue to work with the troop, as the scouts seek to earn their coveted pins and learn about the natural world.

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