Blacktone Parks Conservancy

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 the answers to questions that have us on tenterhooks:

When will it stop snowing? And when will the thaw come? Just asking….

  1. When will it stop snowing? And when will the thaw come? Just asking….
  1. How did the plants in the Boulevard gardens and in the habitat restoration projects in the Blackstone Park Conservation District (BPCD) fare under 62 (so far) inches of snow? How will the freezing affect the plants?

3.  How will the Boulevard and the BPCD handle the onrush of stormwater that will come with the thaw?

As thousands of walkers and runners know, parts of the central path in the Boulevard are impassable in muddy weather, forcing people onto the grassy verge. With the Parks Department, the Conservancy is working toward installation of relatively new materials in a particularly damaged section near Loring Avenue to test whether they can withstand heavy use.

As for the woodland overlooking the Seekonk River, the enormous effort by state environmental agencies and Conservancy volunteers that went into the restoration of trails and habitat completed in 2014 was designed to slow runoff and erosion and promote absorption of water close to thirsty roots. If these projects continue to hold up as well as they did last year–if the gravel and woodchips filling trail ruts and the waterbars and steps retaining them stay in place on the slopes–we can be certain that we are on the right track.

And IF we are fortunate enough to be awarded money for the next project, namely, the restoration of the steep trail down toward the boathouse, we will can finish most of the most difficult trail work in the center section this year. Whether that award comes through will be known by mid-March.

  1. Will the ducks that spend their winter vacation on the Seekonk River stay around long enough for the people who want to see them? The BPC guided walk scheduled for February 27th was effectively frozen out and rescheduled for March 21st @ 11 a.m. We hope that a few holes will appear in the river ice by then so that the ducks can perform for their fans.

The Duck Walk was planned as the Education Committee’s first winter program. Other weekend programs like the ones that many children and parents have attended in years past will be scheduled for spring, fall, and winter. Most July and August programs will take place during the week. Please check our website.

In addition to repeating popular programs—music, building fairy houses, bird banding, the boat ride up the river, etc.—the Committee is planning other offerings for 2015. In order to achieve the quality that families have become accustomed to, they need a few volunteers to give a few hours to preparation and/or staffing of these events. Please contact eriverstone@gmail.com if you can help.

By the time you hold the April edition in your hands, we hope you are reveling in the first signs of spring in the Blackstone parks and all over Providence. As Thomas Carew wrote in The Spring nearly 400 years ago, this is a time when “the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth and makes it tender….”

Jane Peterson