Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Garlic mustard is an invasive species, and, pretty as it is, it doesn’t belong in your garden.

The problem with invasive, or alien, species is that they often crowd out the native plants on which wildlife depends for food. Their strategies for success include a long growing season, deep tap roots for obtaining water, and chemicals that inhibit neighboring plants from thriving.

If you find garlic mustard anywhere, please remove it as follows:

1. Either cut the stem below the point where the leaves and stems emerge from the root (the crown). This has the advantage of not disturbing the soil and thus encouraging buried seeds to sprout.

2. Or just pull it up.

In either case, if you think the plant has seed pods, please discard it in your trash.

Of Two Men’s Faces

Jack Schempp, Chris Shafer

Every year for nearly 20 years the AMC has brought skilled volunteers to work on trails and combat erosion in the Blackstone woodland. This April, their people and several BPC and Friends of Blackstone Woods volunteers pitched in to install water bars and line trails. We join the Environment Council of Rhode Island in saluting the AMC for its work in our woodland and throughout the state.

Check out the Projo link to learn about the new native planting on Angell Street. Many people helped make this remarkable restoration project, including the Providence Parks Department. Above all, we thank Hope Leeson and the Forest Health Project at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey and Sally Harmon who designed and organized the nurturing and planting of over 1,000 native plants.

The Providence Journal, May 1st, 2012

At the annual meeting of the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) in March, we reviewed our “To Do” list for 2012, and as usual, maintenance was at the top. But first, an exciting new garden:


Something New

On April 27th and 28th, the Rhode Island Natural History Society (RINHS) will install over 1,000 plants (roughly 27 different native species) near the corner of Angell and Parkside. The new planting was designed for beauty as well as education. It replaces over an acre of invasive bittersweet, which was eradicated by the Forest Health Works Project.



Behind every project in the parks, are several—sometimes many—hours of planning and preparation. The biannual Appalachian Mountain Club Trail Day in mid-April was no exception. Volunteers and Parks Department employees worked side-by-side installing materials provided by a Department of Environmental Management grant. They erected temporary snow fencing to protect the young plants on Angell Street and staked in more erosion barriers at bluff and trail edges.

As always, the struggle to keep invasive species in check inside the woodland and at its edges continues with the help of young City Year volunteers and others.

The Boulevard Committee is revamping the South Garden, modifying the old plan to make it more inviting and prevent compaction. They’re also hatching plans for the North End. The Witherby and shelter gardens will again need tending by volunteers with help from Swan Point’s crew. And dead trees will be removed under City Forester Doug Still’s watchful eye, while new ones are planted. The popular concert series will continue this summer.


Reaching Out and Up

Second on our list is to look beyond our boundaries to team up with more neighboring environmental organizations. The Blackstone parks anchor a greenway that stretches up into Pawtucket, said to be the largest coastal woodland on the shores of the Narragansett Bay. It is famous as a rest and refueling stop for migrating birds.


The Conservation District rises beside the Seekonk River, also known as the Upper Estuary of the Narragansett Bay, and contains two ponds. Larger organizations such as the Blackstone River Valley Coalition and other mentors are helping us figure out what can be done about York Pond, which is rapidly silting up. To address the pond, we’ve learned we must look up at the 380-acre watershed on the East Side of Providence.

In addition to reaching out to regional environmental organizations and agencies, we are looking to Rhode Island academics and professionals for advice.


Renewing Emphasis on Education

A report from Yale’s School of Forestry and the Environment notes a steady decline in images of the natural environment in prize-winning children’s books from 1938 to 2008. The growing separation of many young people from the natural world might be eased by introduction to Providence’s conservation districts. So we are stepping up efforts to promote the Conservation District as an “open-air classroom” for students and adults to learn how the earth sustains itself.


In the nineteenth-century Providence a few farsighted people realized that the city needed to set aside green space for future generations. Our vision is Healthy Urban Green Space for All.



– Annual River Road cleanup, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

– Second annual photo show on June 10th.


Please keep those Eastside Market receipts coming.

Please join us for wine, refreshments, and live music by guitarists Bob Davis of Minor Swing and Paul Kolesnikow of The Duke Robillard Band, to celebrate the Blackstone Parks and the river Sunday, June 10th, 2-7 p.m., at the Narragansett Boat Club on River Road. Click here for more information and please share.

The road is closed between Irving Avenue and the Boat Club so you have to take Angell Street or River Road from the south.