By Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces the permanent protection of 149.5 acres of forested land in Tiverton for public recreational use, including hunting. The parcel abuts a 121-acre parcel of protected land that was acquired in 2012 from the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club, and its preservation will help expand existing recreational opportunities in Tiverton. Together, these two properties will total 270 acres of contiguously protected land that will be open for hunting, a rarity in this part of the state. 

“I am delighted that we have been able to permanently protect this large tract of forested land for public recreation use,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “This acquisition provides the public with close to 150 acres of prime open space for recreation in a densely-populated area of Tiverton, preserves wildlife habitat, and offers additional protection to the City of Newport’s water supply. Preserving Rhode Island’s natural assets enhances our quality of life and helps support sustainable communities.” 

The property consists of forest land with a stream, a wetland complex, and several stone walls. The wetlands are part of the Tiverton Great Swamp, the largest natural aquifer in this portion of the state and part of the City of Newport’s drinking water watershed. Additionally, it supplies a large portion of the freshwater flows to the West Branch of the Westport River, a critical habitat for many birds. Water quality is closely linked to its surrounding environment and land use. The addition of protected land in this area helps to ensure the protection of these wetlands while allowing water quality levels to be maintained and improved and enhance the overall quality of life in the area. Public access will be maintained on the property to provide for recreational use including hunting and hiking. 

The Nature Conservancy’s Sakonnet Landscape Manager, John Berg, had explored a number of conservation scenarios with the Mandros family, who owned the property, for more than 15 years and helped negotiate the final deal.

“The Nature Conservancy has made a long-term commitment to the Tiverton Great Swamp, one of the largest forests in eastern Rhode Island,” said Berg. “We work with landowners to give them options for protecting their property. I’m deeply grateful that the family ultimately saw conservation as their best bet.”

DEM purchased the property from Alice Mandros for $710,000, which includes $487,500 in USFWS Wildlife Restoration Program funds and $222,500 from state Open Space Bonds. 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 Mandros 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 state bond funds.

Rhode Island’s wealth of historic parks, bikeways, and green spaces provide for public enjoyment – along with improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state’s climate resilience, and supporting the economy. Since 1985, over 10,000 acres of land have been protected.

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