RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
||September 15, 2003
||Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418
DEM, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS AND PARTNERS
CELEBRATE COMPLETION OF $2.6 MILLION LONSDALE DRIVE-IN RESTORATION
PROVIDENCE -Jan Reitsma, Director of the Department of
Environmental Management, and John Paul Woodley, Jr., Assistant
Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, today joined federal, state and
local officials to dedicate the Lonsdale Drive-In Environmental
Restoration project. The site of the former outdoor drive-in movie
theatre, along the Blackstone River in Lincoln, was restored into a
wetland and wildlife habitat area.
Located within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
near the Valley Falls marshes, the site is one of the most highly
valued freshwater wetlands in Rhode Island. The land was used as a
pasture for many years until the early 1950s, when 23 acres were paved
to construct the drive-in. The theatre was closed in the early 1980s,
and vestiges of the old drive-in, including two dilapidated movie
screens, a 75-foot tall radio antenna and several other small
structures, remained on site.
DEM purchased the property in 1998, with the intention of restoring
wetlands and riparian habitat. Thirteen acres of asphalt were removed,
a movie screen, speaker stands and other equipment were demolished,
and about 60,000 cubic yards of material were excavated from the site.
The remaining movie screen will be removed when construction of the
next segment of Blackstone Valley Bikeway, which will run through the
upland portion of the site from John Street to Lonsdale Avenue, gets
underway this fall.
Once the land was cleared, a seven-acre wetland area consisting of 3.6
acres of emergent and open water habitat and 3.4 acres of scrub/shrub
and forested wetlands was constructed, and 13 acres of upland riparian
habitat were restored. Some of the excavated material was kept on site
and graded to provide a natural, aesthetically pleasing landscape with
rolling hills. The existing forested riparian habitat along the
Blackstone River was preserved as much as possible.
The restoration plan was developed by an interdisciplinary team of
engineers, hydrologists, ecologists and economists from DEM, the RI
Natural Heritage Program, URI, the US Army Corps of Engineers New
England District Office, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National
Marine Fisheries Service. The area now provides shelter to waterfowl
and habitat for declining grassland bird species. Numerous deer, foxes
and coyotes have already been sighted on the premises. The scattered
trees and shrubs that were planted on the property provide shelter and
nesting habitat for songbirds.
"The Lonsdale Drive-In Restoration project represents a vital step in
preserving and protecting important wetland and wildlife habitat areas
in the Blackstone River Valley," said DEM Director Jan Reitsma. "The
project has been a true collaborative effort, with many partners
working together to assure its success. By working together in this
joint venture, we have been able to restore a significant part of
Rhode Island's natural heritage."
"As we complete this first aquatic ecosystem restoration effort within
the Blackstone River Watershed, an American Heritage River, I would
like to thank all of the partners who have made this effort possible,"
said Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), John Paul Woodley, Jr. "Our
partnership is a noteworthy example of how federal, state and local
governments and private agencies should work together for those they
represent, creating a project team that is far more effective than any
single effort could be. This, along with our other aquatic restoration
efforts and our work to restore valuable habitat and coastal salt
ponds, provides us great opportunities for our diverse partnership to
work together and produce a benefit for the American people. This
partnership is also unique in that it represents the first project in
Rhode Island for the Coastal America Corporate Wetlands Restoration
Partnership. I'm proud that the Army Corps of Engineers could be a
partner in this worthwhile environmental restoration project."
Senator Jack Reed stated "There can be no greater goal than to leave
the land in better shape for our children than how we inherited it.
Wetlands are among the most productive habitats that we have in Rhode
Island and throughout the United States. They are critical to
maintaining water quality and to providing habitats to many endangered
species and migratory wildlife. This site is a great tribute to the
dedication, hard work and vision of many people and I congratulate
them on their efforts."
Senator Lincoln Chafee said, "It's remarkable that we have reached the
point where we are using the Blackstone River to create highly
productive wildlife habitat. This project is a testament to the
resilience of nature and an inspiration to other organizations that
are engaged in the critically important work of habitat restoration
across Rhode Island."
Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) Patrick Kennedy supported the
Lonsdale restoration project from the House side by getting funds for
the project into the Corps budget. "As a member of the House
Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have secured nearly $1 million
for the Lonsdale Drive-In Wetlands Restoration Project," he said.
"This will serve to restore one of the Blackstone Valley's great
environmental treasures so that wildlife can once again prosper. I am
pleased to have done my part for this project and look forward to
returning once the work is completed."
"This is a moment we can all take stock of our work and have pride,"
commented Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of the
U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's New England office. "Completing
the Lonsdale wetland restoration involved the cooperation and
coordinationof many different partners across the private sector and
state, local and federal governments. Together, we have accomplished
more than we could have alone. The work to reinvigorate this American
Heritage River establishes a road map for how this sort of work can be
done in other areas."
CRMC Chairman Michael Tikoian said, "The Coastal Resources Management
Council is pleased to take part in this interagency effort to restore
coastal habitat within Rhode Island. Lonsdale is one reminder of how
interagency cooperation achieves successful environmental management."
"The Arch Chemicals and Battelle corporate contributions filled a
critical funding gap that allowed this project to go forward," said
Richard Kleiman, chairman of the Rhode Island Corporate Wetland
Restoration Partnership (RI-CWRP) Advisory Board and vice president of
ESS Group, Inc. of East Providence, one of the lead corporate partners
in the RI-CWRP. "Often states cannot access federal funds because they
do not have the money required to meet the local matching
specifications of a particular grant program. When corporations step
in, this need is met and important projects like the Lonsdale Drive-In
Environmental Restoration Project can proceed."
"This restoration is especially important because it begins the
compensation for wetlands impacted at the L&RR Superfund site," said
Michael Bartlett, supervisor of the New England Field Office of the US
Fish & Wildlife Service.
The total cost of the restoration project was $2.6 million, with the
Army Corps of Engineers providing 65 percent of the project cost. As
part of the 35 percent non-federal sponsor share, the state's share
was about $950,000, which included the value of the land and $245,128
from joint settlement funds awarded to the state and the US Fish &
Wildlife Service (USFWS) to compensate for the wetlands loss at the
Landfill and Resource Recovery, (L&RR) Inc. Superfund Site in North
Smithfield. Also, the Coastal Resources Management Council provided
$152,963 for the restoration project from the Rhode Island Coastal and
Estuary Habitat Restoration and Trust Fund, which is financed by a
portion of the fees collected under the oil spill prevention and
The Rhode Island Corporate Wetland Restoration Partnership (RICWRP)
also donated $30,000 through the corporate donations of Arch
Chemicals, Inc. and Battelle, as an additional part of the state match
for the restoration project. The RICWRP is a public-private
partnership between Rhode Island corporations, government agencies and
non-profit environmental groups working together to fund the
restoration of degraded wetlands, rivers and fish and wildlife habitat
throughout the Ocean State. Arch Chemicals, Inc. of East Providence
and North Kingstown, and Battelle, of Columbus, OH, a national
consulting company providing services in Rhode Island, are charter
members of RICWRP, which was established in 2001.
Charter Environmental, Inc. of Chelsea, MA was the project contractor
and DEM's Office of Planning and Development assisted the Corps in
project planning and design.
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