Blacktone Parks Conservancy

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

What the Eagle Saw

While human beings looking down from an airplane at the Blackstone parks on the morning of Earth Day, April 22nd, would have seen clouds of pink and green, an eagle cruising above could have seen far more detail: a blossom on a cherry tree on the Boulevard, for instance, or the millipede in the outstretched palm of a child in the Blackstone Park Conservation District.

The millipede was being admired by 30 three-, four-, and five-year-olds from nearby Lincoln School who were listening to environmental educator April Alix talk about the creatures–including earthworms and forest cockroaches–that make earth. Shepherded by members of the Blackstone Park Conservancy (BPC) education committee and several teachers, the children excitedly hugged a large tree and each other. No movie, no matter how exquisitely photographed, is likely to generate the thrill of actually being outdoors in the woodland.

The children’s exploration of the Park was the first of many Conservancy events scheduled for young people for 2015, all introducing the wonders in these partially protected acres. With the backing of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and support from the Providence Parks Department, the BPC seeks to help compensate for the lack of exposure to nature among city children today.

Habitat Restoration – Through the pale green leaves just unfolding in Blackstone Park in early May, the eagle on the lookout for small mammals would have paid no mind to a yellow backhoe beside a pile of gravel—the beginnings of a second chapter in the BPC-CRMC (Coastal Resources Management Council) partnership in habitat restoration, which began last year with help from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). But while the work might not interest the eagle, it will have a small impact on the Park’s hospitableness to all wildlife.

Natural gullies have been carrying soil down the slopes of the sandy coastal woodland for many years, and people trudging up and down have exacerbated the process. The BPC is supplementing a $30,000 grant from CRMC with about three thousand dollars of its own and managing a project to repair the badly eroded gully down to the Narragansett Boat House. Carefully built terracing will help hundreds of new woodland plants anchor the slopes beside the trail.

The erosion in Blackstone Park—which Blackstone Boulevard Park also suffers from to a lesser extent–is a small example of the damage stormwater runoff is doing throughout Providence, depleting soil and nutrients and carrying pollutants into the Narragansett Bay, undermining all the creatures in the skein of life. As a member of the Stormwater Coalition, the Conservancy participates in city- and state-wide efforts to protect land from runoff, erosion, and flooding.

Habitat loss is a major obstacle to bird survival, which is one reason we need to protect not only the parks, but also in the green swath that extends north through Butler Hospital, Swan Point Cemetery, and Riverside Cemetery. Caring for street and yard trees and avoiding pesticides in flowering nursery plants is also important.

It is partly thanks to the Blackstone parks that Providence residents frequently glimpse raptors, from Red Tail and Cooper hawks to owls. Eagles are less common, but many people do see them, especially along the Seekonk River. The great migration that occurs every spring and fall is a good time to see many birds.

Jane Peterson

We invite you to attend “Music in the Park,” a family event with musical storyteller Lindsay Meehan. Lindsay Meehan founded Music for Children in Rhode Island in 2011. She teaches Music for Children at Moses Brown and at Lincoln’s Little School and performs throughout the state. This event is part of a series of events […]

Have you ever held a bird in the palm of your hand? Listened to a bird’s heart beat close to your ear? Opened your hands and watched a bird take off into the air? Blackstone Parks Conservancy invites you to join us for these experiences and more with University of Rhode Island Professor Dr. Peter […]

Terracing and native woodland plants are being installed to halt erosion on the steep trail between Parkside and the boathouse.  Heavy machinery will be used and workers will be here until mid-May. Please avoid this area until work is completed. Funding comes from a Coastal Resources Management Council grant. Yardworks is doing the work. This […]

On the sparkling day known as Earth Day, April 22nd, thirty three- four- and-five-year-olds from Lincoln School explored Blackstone Park Conservation District, shepherded by their teachers and BPC volunteers, Elena Riverstone, Carrie Drake and Rick Richards. Leading the way was environmental educator April Alix, who helped the children find creatures that make earth: earthworms, a […]

Join us in Blackstone Park to celebrate Earth Day 2015 as part of citywide events marking this day. Rain or shine, we’ll gather on Saturday, April 25th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm at York Pond on River Road, Providence.* We’ll be leading our traditional spring cleaning effort along the banks of the Seekonk River on River and Gulf Rd. […]

If Only We Knew

In early March, this column goes into production for the April edition, while we are still in the depths of an exceptionally cold winter, and Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) volunteers wish they could know what the future—at least Spring—will bring to the parks. But by the time you read this edition, you may already have […]

How One Thing Leads to Another

At the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC), the list of unattended needs is long. It was in a searching frame of mind that the Board of the BPC recently took up two longstanding questions about the southern end of the Boulevard Park. First: How can we link the Boulevard Park to the Blackstone Park Conservation District? […]

If you care about the Blackstone Parks and you haven’t already done so, look at our website: If you walk, run, or drive by the Blackstone Boulevard Park and the Blackstone Park Conservation District by the Seekonk River– and you like what you see–consider joining the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC). These heavily used parks […]

“We have a short window in which to get started between the end of grass growing and when the snow flies,” says Bob McMahon, superintendent of the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation. On a gusty day in late October that promises rain, with two landscape architects and five Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) volunteers he […]