Blackstone Parks Conservancy

Please join the Blackstone Parks Conservancy for light refreshments and to learn about all the ways you can get involved as volunteer for the parks.

This event is for you if:

You enjoy meeting new, fun, engaging people
You want to learn about how to help keep our Blackstone Parks healthy and vibrant
You enjoy free refreshments on a Sunday afternoon
You want to take a guided walk (weather permitting) through the parks

We look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

3 – 4:30pm

9 Parkside Road, Providence, RI



Providence, RI (March 13, 2017) – The Blackstone Parks Conservancy, the organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of historic Blackstone Park Conservation District and Blackstone Boulevard, announced that Amy Larkin (Providence, RI) has joined as the executive director.

Alongside Jane Peterson, President of the BPC; Amy will be the face and voice for the organization. Her other responsibilities will include promoting the organization and parks associated with the Conservancy, increasing volunteer engagement, and boosting the organization’s activities and membership.

“Amy brings a strong background of marketing and communications, and we are thrilled to welcome her,” said Jane Peterson, president of the Blackstone Parks Conservancy. “These parks need and deserve the kind of expertise Amy brings to the table.”

Previously Amy’s work was as a long-time marketing director for US Sailing, and from her personal experience as a proud resident of Providence, Amy knows that many users are unaware of the BPC’s role in tending these historic parks.

On her new position, Amy states, “I am excited about joining the Blackstone Parks Conservancy and am looking forward to working with the board, members and volunteers to promote and enhance the incredible jewels of parks that we are lucky to have in our backyard.”

Amy, her husband McKenzie, and their son and daughter live in Wayland Square.

About the Blackstone Parks Conservancy: Founded in 1979 the Blackstone Parks Conservancy is dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of historic Blackstone Park Conservation District and Blackstone Boulevard. The BPC cares for these two city parks in partnership with the Providence Parks Department and the Department of Public Works. The Conservancy is a membership organization with an all-volunteer board of directors.

Winter Duck Walk 2017

Gadwall, photographed by BPC volunteer Elena Riverstone

Luckily for the bird-watchers who flocked to the Blackstone Parks Conservancy’s second Winter Duck Walk on February 19th, the Seekonk River is Florida to many diving and dabbling ducks escaping the Canadian winter. The antics of the migratory birds delighted more than 70 participants on a sunny day in the high 50’s.

Lauren Parmalee, Senior Director of Education at Audubon Society of Rhode Island, led the walk. Her sharp eyes helped the group identify 17 different species (see list below). Earlier Lauren had sighted a rare visitor to New England, the Tufted Duck, as well as the rarely seen Barrow’s Goldeneye.

The group, ranging from veteran to first-time birdwatchers of all ages, shared bird books, stories, binoculars, and tips for how to spot faraway birds in the wide river. Hot chocolate and coloring books at the Narragansett Boat Club completed the outing.

Consider adding the BPC February 2018 Winter Bird Walk to the list of not-to-be-missed events for next year.


Buffleheads, photographed by BPC volunteer Elena Riverstone

Shifting Gears for 2017

Mid-winter is a time to dream of new green leaves unfolding in the Blackstone parks and the mountain laurel lighting up the woods like so many giant paper lanterns. And to figure out how the Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) can best serve the parks and the thousands who will use them in 2017.

Like many non-profit organizations, the BPC happily noticed a bump in contributions last fall. And with this small spike came new members and more expressions of support than usual. Much appreciated notes on contribution envelopes usually say things like “Keep up the good work,” or “You’re doing a great job!” But one response to our fall appeal stood out from the rest: “Now is the time for us all to pull together!”

The boost couldn’t have come at a better time. While many loyal members consistently support the BPC’s care of the two Blackstone parks, some friends have moved away in recent years and our membership numbers have declined slightly when we need them to be rising.

Despite the efforts of our volunteers to reach out, far too many Providence residents–even close neighbors and others who frequently walk or run in one or both parks—do not know who it is that adds new trees and plants to the Boulevard and waters them. Nor do they realize who refurbishes the trails in the Blackstone Park Conservation District and replaces the plants that have died over the winter.

The BPC supported by our members does all of the above and much more in collaboration with an overextended Parks Department charged with looking after more than 100 city parks. And dwindling resources. Rhode Island’s environmental agencies also provide crucial assistance, especially in addressing stormwater and erosion challenges in the heavily used Conservation District.

But all this work is not enough. To do justice to the parks, before the busy spring-summer-fall season begins the BPC needs to beef up its membership and its cadre of volunteers in order to catch up with invasive plant species and to avoid having to cut back our concerts and popular education programs. Reversing attrition challenges is high on our agenda.

Meanwhile, there is more to do to improve the stability of the parks in the face of erratic rainfall. Like environmentalists everywhere, we are scrambling to build resilience into our precious green spaces. Park Committee Chair Carrie Drake and member Margaret Brookner and City Forester Doug Still brought home some useful ideas along these lines from the January workshop organized by the U.S. Forest Service in Boston.

On February eighth this year the temperature hit 60 degrees. And the next day came a blizzard with 25 degrees. New Englanders are accustomed to weather swings, but not to the extremes we are now seeing. Storm surges require that we spend more time and money strengthening paths and trails, and drought has made it essential to water the boulevard and new plants in the woods more often than in the past.

Plans for 2017

This month the newly revived Boulevard Committee is figuring out how to manage pruning, watering, and mulching in 2017, as well a tree inventory and solutions for the worn center path.

The Park Committee will continue the popular Park Keeping sessions and work on badly eroded areas and invasive plant removal and replacement projects.

How many educational programs and concerts take place will depend on new volunteers signing up with the Education Committee. To participate, please contact the BPC (see below).

And please remember to send your Eastside Marketplace receipts to the Conservancy.

Jane Peterson