On Giving Back
A reward for showing up to work at the Blackstone Parks Conservancy’s (BPC) evening ParkKeeping sessions – aside from getting a light workout in beautiful surroundings – is the satisfaction that comes from “giving back.”
ParkKeeping enables people who enjoy visiting the Blackstone Park Conservation District overlooking the Seekonk River to participate in the larger BPC projects by contributing to essential maintenance. Because the Park sits atop sand, it is particularly vulnerable to erosion. A neighboring bluff on the Butler Campus just to the north actually collapsed in the early 1990s.
How to Keep the Park Up
The challenge of maintaining the Park boils down to 1. Keeping topsoil from eroding—literally sliding off the hill– and 2. Dislodging invasive plant species. All this work, done by volunteers with help from the BPC’s key partner, the Providence Parks Department, and environmental agencies, helps protect not only the birds and other wildlife that live in the conservation area but also the trees that make this place so desirable to visitors.
ParkKeeping sessions are open to all ages. The one on August 2nd included Brown junior Mollie Koval, who is studying materials engineering and welcomed the chance to be outdoors, and BPC Board member Anthony Hollingshead. They spread woodchips, which will soon decay, softening the hard-packed soil so that rain can penetrate close to where it falls instead of washing dirt down to Angell Street or River Road.
In a park as heavily used as this one, it isn’t easy to keep soil in place. The Conservancy keeps trying new methods to see what works best.
The most recent BPC project centered on a popular area above and beside the old stairway leading down to York Pond from the north bluff in the center section. It’s to this point that Providence residents have been coming for centuries to breath the air and catch the view across the river.
The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) this year funded a new BPC attempt to stem erosion by the steps that looks somewhat more promising than past efforts. This time leaves were placed on the steep slope and covered with bio-degradable jute stapled to the ground and anchored by large rocks here and there.
The first signs of success appeared in just two weeks as mushrooms popped up. BPC Park Committee members who had designed the project were delighted as the fungi signaled the creation of the hoped for fungal community that would help build up the poor soil. New plants at the top will be put in this fall to supplement the viburnums and carex installed in recent years.
With this project as with all the trail and erosion control work done in recent years, BPC volunteers watch to see the outcome. Did the intervention work? How long did it hold up? Which methods worked best? Which plants thrived and which ones didn’t? Always there are surprises and disappointments. With this project beside the York Pond stairs, so far so good.
Join the Blackstone Parks Conservancy for a boat tour of the Seekonk River and shore. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to learn about the river and the wildlife that live within and near it. Board the boat on Sunday, September 24, at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00pm. At the Narragansett Boat Club Dock, 2 River Drive (River Road), Providence, RI 02906.
All ages are welcome! Blackstone Parks Conservancy members receive the early bird opportunity to sign up to reserve a space now! Please indicate what time slot (1, 2 or 3pm) you would like to receive.
Join us to help keep the park in shape. It’s a light workout, and fun. Three new dates:
The East Coast River Relay is a 3,000-mile celebration of the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance’s 25th birthday and 50 key rivers along the Greenway, including our Seekonk River. The River Relay encourages participants to walk, bike, and run the Greenway and explore the rivers we connect. We are proud to partner with the East Coast Greenway Alliance for this event as it goes through Providence and Blackstone Parks. Please join us.
Walkers: The walk starts at 3:00 pm at India Point Park Parking Lot, 201 India Street, Providence, RI and ends at 5:00 pm in Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Drive aka River Road, Providence, RI 02906).
Kayakers: Meet at the Gano Street boat launch, 81-99 East Transit Street, Providence, RI at 3:00 pm. You must bring your own boat.
Bikers: Bike on down to the park at any point to celebrate and stay to enjoy the BBQ.
Walkers and paddlers will finish by 5:00 pm so they can attend a barbeque at Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Drive aka River Road, Providence, RI 02906).
If you haven’t heard, we will be having a solar eclipse on this Monday, August 21st. While it cannot be seen in it’s entirety in RI, we will be able to see some of it. Seems like a perfect time to get out in our park and enjoy this rare opportunity!
Join us for Shakespeare in the Park with the Head Trick Theatre presenting “The Knight of the Burning Pestle”
Friday, August 11 – Sunday, August 27
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at 8:00pm
Blackstone Field, 2 River Rd., Providence, RI 02906
Suggested donation $15
The Knight of the Burning Pestle will be performed with live folk music and dance in Providence’s Blackstone Field, across from the Narragansett Boat Club (2 River Dr. aka River Rd., Providence, RI 02906). Bring a chair or picnic blanket and enjoy a comedy outdoors!