State preserves 84 acres of forest in Cumberland

PROVIDENCE – The state has purchased an 84-acre swath of forest in Cumberland, an acquisition that officials say will protect tributaries of two reservoirs that are critical drinking water resources for residents in the Blackstone Valley. 

The $830,000 purchase of the Joseph and Amy Cracco property, along the north side of Tower Hill Road and abutting Diamond Hill Management Area, is the 200th property that has been protected using the R.I. Department of Environmental Management’s Local Open Space Grant Program. The program started in 1985. 

Dominated by steep slopes, stone walls and wetlands, the Cracco property contains the headwaters of Catamint Brook and Ash Swamp Brook, the primary tributaries of the Pawtucket and Diamond Hill reservoirs. The protection of the property helps to ensure the quality of these critical public drinking water resources, the state said. Also, the Cracco property and surrounding complex of protected open spaces are top priorities for saving habitats where some of Rhode Island’s rarest wildlife remain. 

“Being a lifelong Cumberland resident and knowing this special place as I do, it’s exciting to be a part of preserving it for future generations and to know that the state is doing so much good through the Local Open Space Grant Program,” said Gov. Daniel J. McKee. “Preserving Rhode Island’s natural resources and increasing the public’s access to and enjoyment of outdoor spaces benefits our residents and our economy many times over.” 

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Since 1985, the Local Open Space Grant program has protected more than 12,000 acres of land, including nearly 1,700 acres over the past five years. 

“DEM’s land conservation programs including the Local Open Space Grant Program leverage voter-approved bond funds to support and promote access to outdoor recreational activities, farmland preservation, habitat protection, and open space conservation,” said DEM Director Terrence Gray. “DEM is thrilled to partner with cities, towns, and organizations throughout Rhode Island that work hard to protect open space in their communities.”