2015-02-05 / Around Town

ALT Finalizes St. Mary’s Conservation

The much-anticipated closing between the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) and St. Mary's Church on the conservation of over 72 acres of land in Portsmouth occurred on Friday, Jan. 30. The conservation of this property began in 2011 when ALT, St. Mary's and its related entity, the Sarah Gibbs Trust, entered into a binding contractual agreement to conserve the land in perpetuity. ALT was able to raise the funds needed in the first year of the option term, but was substantially delayed in receiving its largest grant for the project from the Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). But all the details finally worked out, and both parties were pleased to finalize the transaction.

ALT raised enough in grants and cash from three governmental entities, as well as through contributions from six foundations and 40 individuals to cover the entire project costs of over $3.06 million. A number of parties made significant leadership contributions, including NRCS, the State of Rhode Island/Department of Environmental Management, the Town of Portsmouth, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Prince Charitable Trusts, the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Rhode Island Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission.

The 72-acre St. Mary's Church and Sarah Gibbs Trust conservation areas are strategic from a conservation perspective. The land is located within a town-designated Open Space and Active Agriculture Area, Resource Protection Overlay District Area, and Greenways Plan Area. The St. Mary's Church land is located next to a number of previously conserved parcels, thereby building upon and enhancing past conservation work. The land also falls within the St. Mary's Pond watershed and directly abuts the St. Mary's Pond Reservoir.

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