The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the permanent protection of 26.9 acres of forested land in Little Compton for public recreational use, including hunting.

The parcel abuts DEM’s Eight Rod Management Area, which straddles the boundary of Little Compton and Tiverton and consists of over 600 acres of forestland and farm fields. DEM purchased the property from the Booth family for $435,000. The sum includes $326,500 in US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program funds and $108,750 from the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust (LCACT).

“Green spaces to enjoy nature, clean blue waters to swim and fish in, and sandy beaches to soak up the rays are what we love most about Rhode Island,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement. “I applaud the vision and partnership of DEM, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust for preserving this special parcel of land and opening it up to recreational opportunities in perpetuity.”

“Our forestlands face threats on multiple fronts.  These threats include development pressures, spread of invasive plants and pests, and wildfire risks,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray in a statement. “Preserving and protecting these valuable habitats helps protect drinking water, improve air quality, mitigate climate change, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, promote health, and harbor wildlife. We thank our partners at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program and Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust for joining us in preserving the Booth family property for generations of Rhode Islanders to come.”

“The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust appreciates the opportunity to successfully collaborate with RIDEM and federal partners to preserve the Booth property and looks forward to supporting the conservation and recreational opportunities this land presents,” said William Richmond, LCACT Chairman.

According to DEM, the new acquisition abuts Newport Water’s Watson Reservoir, helping to protect drinking water quality for Newport residents. Water quality is closely linked to a waterbody’s surrounding environment and land use. The Booth property’s position between Eight Rod Management Area to the north and Watson Reservoir to the south strengthens connections for wildlife and enhances their value. The property consists of mixed oaks, American beech, and hickory hardwood forest with an understory of American holly, which is a relatively rare species in need of protection. Public access will be maintained on the property to provide for recreational use including hunting and hiking. 

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 Booth property exemplifies how these taxes are used for critical habitat protection as well as additional recreational opportunities for the public. The LCACT stepped in to provide a match.

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