Ahead of Sandy, new plants take root at Allins Cove

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More than 150 new plants around Allins Cove will be put to test this week.

About a dozen volunteers spent Saturday morning planting switchgrass, Virginia rose and goldenrod along Byway Road as Hurricane Sandy barreled towards the Eastern seaboard.

The planting initiative wasn’t directly tied to the storm but part of the effort is aimed at reducing shoreline erosion and helping with storm water runoff in the area.

Overall, the event marked the latest chapter in a larger on-going project to preserve Allin’s Cove. The initiative began as a grassroots neighborhood effort nearly 20 years ago and has since grown to include assistance from numerous agencies such as Save the Bay and the Coastal Resources Management Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, which conducted a salt marsh restoration project at the site in 2005.

Save the Bay restoration coordinator Wenley Ferguson said one of the goals for last weekend’s work was to continue replacing invasive knotweed with native, coastal plants.

Funding for this stage of the project has been primarily provided through a National Resource Conservation grant. The CRMC has also kicked about one-quarter of the effort’s costs. Part of the project prior to Saturday included chemical treatments to eliminate some of the knotweed growing in the area.

Ms. Ferguson said the new plants have a deeper root system, which assists with helping to curb shoreline erosion and guide storm water run-off appropriately.

Some of the volunteers who pitched in included Barrington Land Conservation Trust members Jedd Sullivan and Saundy Patrick. Joanna Duval also spent her morning digging and planting but she isn’t a Land Trust member, she just grew up on the other side of the cove and felt a personal connection to the project.

“I feel like I have a vested interest to make sure this place is preserved,” she said.

Others, meanwhile, came without much of a Barrington connection. About half the day’s manpower was provided courtesy of some Roger Williams University students. Brenna Toman is president of RWU’s Students for a Sustainable Future.

“It’s a little early,” said Ms. Toman while plowing into the dirt.

“But it’s fun.”

Sandra Wyatt lives on Byway Road and spearheaded the community effort that has lead to today’s improvements. She said the plan going forward is to continue replacing invasive species with native plants further along the cove. She also said it feels good to see the project come such a long way and she isn’t too worried about the plans holding up during this week’s weather. She said they’re coastal plants made to withstand wind and sun spray.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s very gratifying. It’s extremely gratifying,” she said.

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