GSP Committee looks to improve natural buffers
The following report was submitted by Committee for the Great Salt Pond President Sven Risom:
Committee for the Great Salt Pond (CGSP) President Sven Risom announced a new initiative, The Watershed Protection Program, at the organization’s annual meeting on Sunday, Sept. 15. The goal of the Watershed Protection Program is to establish proper land management practices that support the health of the pond. To this end, Risom said the CGSP is starting an education program that will focus on proper watershed and buffer management, as well as identifying points up-stream from the pond that could be impacting water quality. The term “buffer” refers to the planting of appropriate vegetation that will limit soil erosion and provide a protective barrier to the run-off of soil and nutrients into the pond. Risom noted that discussions often center on sewers, roads and other impervious surfaces, and fertilizers, but not the less obvious landscaping issues.
To demonstrate the point, the some 80 members in attendance viewed the three buffer models created by CGSP intern Leah Risom to demonstrate the types of buffers most helpful in preserving the health of the pond.
Sven Risom also told the audience of a major effort underway to support, assist and integrate efforts with the Block Island Land Trust and the Block Island Conservancy on the Solviken property. The project will create a “best-in-class” demonstration site for proper land management and buffer programs. Barbara MacMullan (head of the Land Trust) and Stephen Record (president of the Block Island Conservancy) were both in attendance and praised the initiative of the three organizations working together.
Caitlin Chaffee, from the Coastal Resources Management Council, and Kate Venturini, from the University of Rhode Island were introduced to the audience. Chaffee and Venturini are assisting with the Solviken planning project, but are also working with the CGSP to improve native plant species restoration and proper land management practices island-wide.
Chaffee took questions from the audience, many of which centered on dune restoration and plantings to improve the island.
Cheryl Moore and Kevin Hoyt provided an overview of the summer intern program, showing pictures of the interns conducting water quality tests at the pond and holding educational presentations for island residents and tourists.
Betsy Pyne discussed the goals of the CGSP 4th of July Fireworks Picnic and the Committeee’s intention to build on the success of this year’s event to increase awareness about the importance of the Great Salt Pond and good land stewardship practices.
Risom closed the meeting with an update on the ongoing Champlin’s Marina legal battle. He expressed his concern that while most recent issues seem to have been resolved, new legal challenges have a way of coming along. The public, he reminded the audience, must remain vigilant in its defense of the pond. The committee is looking for new board members to help in all aspects of this defense, legal and otherwise. Anyone interested in becoming a board member should contact the CGSP at 466-8976. The Committee would also like to thank the Drapers and Abrams families for hosting the event at Smugglers, and all the members who continue to support the Committee for the Great Salt Pond.