Cook Farm in Tiverton. Credit: Tim Mooney, TNC

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Tiverton Land Trust (TLT) recently announced the permanent conservation of a 48-acre tract of coastal forest in Tiverton.

Situated between the City of Newport’s reservoirs at Pachet Brook and Nonquit Pond, the land was a top priority for conservation in the Sakonnet. It helps connect hundreds of acres of protected forest, wetlands, and farmland, including DEM’s 400-acre Eight Rod Farm Management Area, and builds on decades of effort by the land preservation community in Tiverton.  

Graphic map of Sakonnet.
MIND THE GAP Protecting Cook Farm builds on decades of community conservation in the Sakonnet. © Kevin Ruddock/TNC

“An awful lot of this is really about watershed protection. If we can save the forest that surrounds the waterways, we keep the groundwater and reservoirs clean and keep the habitat intact.”

John Berg, Sakonnet Landscape Manger, TNC RI

Conservation of this forest tract helps keep drinking water clean for Newport residents by preventing sources of bacterial contamination from reaching Nonquit Pond.

It also protects aquatic life by limiting the amount of nutrient pollution that flows into Fogland Marsh. Excessive nutrients such as nitrates from septic systems and lawn fertilizers promote algal growth, which in turn, depletes the amount of dissolved oxygen available in the water for fish, shellfish and other organisms.

“An awful lot of this is really about watershed protection,” said John Berg, TNC’s Sakonnet landscape manager. “If we can save the forest that surrounds the waterways, we keep the groundwater and reservoirs clean and keep the habitat intact.”

This effort contributes to the protection of a network of healthy lands and waters across North America, identified and mapped by TNC, that are large, connected and resilient, and can therefore sustain biodiversity in the face of climate change.  

“This is about finishing what we started here, going back to Fogland Marsh in 1968,” Berg continued. “We’ve been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to protect so many of the natural treasures of this coast, but there are some key gaps, and this is one of them.”

TNC and TLT will co-hold a conservation easement on the property, which will remain privately owned forest but now can never be developed or subdivided. The easement allows both organizations to invite visitors for guided walks.   

“Protecting critical and beautiful tracts of land in our community has become complex — and it is often best done as a team sport,” said David Elliott, Tiverton Land Trust President.

Working in close collaboration, TNC and TLT raised the funds to purchase this conservation easement through donations from both organizations’ members and grants from the Bafflin Foundation and the Mary Dexter Chafee Fund.    

The conserved property is forested with oaks and American holly trees, a coastal habitat type that reaches its northern extent along the south coast of New England. Its streams, pools, and other wetlands feed freshwater into Nonquit Pond. It provides excellent habitat for species listed as being of “greatest conservation need” in Rhode Island’s statewide Wildlife Action Plan, including bobcats and many deep forest-nesting songbirds like wood thrush and scarlet tanager.

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