Blacktone Parks Conservancy

Dedicated to the Preservation and Stewardship of Historic
Blackstone Park Conservation District and Boulevard.

treeWhen you see the photograph of little girls hugging a large tree in the Blackstone Parks Conservation District, one thing is obvious: “They get it.” No one has to tell them how precious and exciting nature is.

This Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) outing of pre-schoolers to the park overlooking the Upper Narragansett Bay, one of many programs designed to expose children and adults of all ages to the delights contained in these parks, took place in early summer. The last warm-weather program was in early November.

Many people explore the Conservation District in their own ways. A mother who regularly brings her three pre-adolescent children to explore the Park, studied grubs living under a log one day last fall, then carefully rolled it back to its original position. Birders come often, as do walkers and runners. Occasionally artists will set up easels at York Pond.

For the Blackstone parks to thrive, more people need to embrace them, which can begin with asking questions. Much that has happened and is happening in the woods and water is hidden from view.

Extraordinary discoveries pertaining to the complexity of life may be in the offing. The BPC hopes that some of the children exposed to nature in these parks will eventually help find answers to questions such as: What happened in here millennia ago? How was this land used in the 1700s and 1800s? What is happening now under the surface? Perhaps they will help crack the secrets of the new frontier, the micro-biome. By the time they grow up, scientists may know if it’s true that groups of trees communicate and protect each other.

As humans always have, we depend on nature for survival. But now exploitation of resources is out of balance. Will today’s children help right that imbalance?

The BPC is always exploring ideas for the future and experimenting with ways to protect fragile land—and thus the bay–from the effects of erosion. Invasive plant species are receiving special attention as well.

We know surprisingly little about the land where Blackstone Park sits. We do know that most of the ancient forests of Rhode Island were cut down in early Colonial days and shipped to England. Thus little old-growth forest remains. But we don’t yet know what Moses Brown saw while riding out from his country house (at what would later become Wayland Square).

Learning more about the use of Moses Brown’s land could affect our understanding of the small part of it that was deeded to the City as parkland in 1866. These are questions we hope one day to be able to answer with the help of experts able to analyze former land use or researchers willing to explore records at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

One thing we do know is that all our questions start with wonder–wonder and a kind of delight in the two parks that have been passed down to Providence over more than 150 years, public spaces that the Blackstone Parks Conservancy has the honor to help the Providence Parks Department manage. If we ever need reminding, all we need do is to watch the children in the woods.

Jane Peterson

Once people see a connection between their own health and the natural environment–we are all mammals, after all–the value of woodlands beyond a cool place to escape on a hot day becomes more evident. And the need to protect trees in both Blackstone parks—as the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) does–becomes more evident as well. The […]

On service day in October going after invasive plants.                                

What natural resources, landscape features, and environmental conditions were encountered by the earliest users of what is now Blackstone Park?  Was there ever a natural status quo to which we can return? Did Native communities change their environment and its resources, or create the ecosystems that colonists took to be natural? Kevin Smith, Deputy Director […]

Signs of Life

On a September field trip to Blackstone Park, Moses Brown environmental science students stood beside the meadow at York Pond while Coordinator of the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Partnership April Alix gave instructions for collecting “bugs” in the water to find clues to its health. She admonished them not to wave the nets over peoples’ […]

It’s Really About the Future

Sometimes a local college will send new freshmen to volunteer in the Blackstone parks. In September nearly 40 new RISD students arrived in two groups to figure out how to take materials found in the riverside park and build temporary enclosures that could be knocked down and later reassembled—sort of like stage sets. The Education […]

Green Team

The Green Team, organized by Groundwork Providence, was none the worse for wear after a wilting hot morning cutting back the invasive black swallowwort in the south section of the Blackstone Park Conservation District under the guidance of BPC volunteers Elena Riverstone and Martha Fraenkel.

How do you bring a little magic into a park? You invite creative, energetic students in, give them materials, direct them a little bit, and stand back! This recipe was at work this September 2nd and 3rd in Blackstone Park. Around 20 RISD students showed up, learned about the park and set to work creating […]

Join us at Blackstone Field for two events on Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, October 18th. On Saturday, October 17th, at 10:30 am, Nancy Nowak and Elena Riverstone, enthusiasts of these species, will lead the Moss and Mushroom Trail Walk.  This year to complement our annual fungus search in Blackstone Park, we will also be looking […]

Enjoy a boat ride up the Seekonk River and learn about the fish, birds and other wildlife that live in, on, and near the river. This event is co-hosted by the Blackstone Parks Conservancy and Save the Bay. Board a boat at 10:00, 10:40 or 11:20. Seating is first come first serve so arrive early! Join us […]