Portsmouth farmland conserved under agreement

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PORTSMOUTH — The Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) and the Faria family today announced the conservation of 10.53 acres of prime arable farmland on the east side of Hedly Street.

The property comprises two lots with a combined area of approximately 14.6 acres. The conserved portion of the property is actively farmed and directly adjacent to Sisson Pond, within the Sisson Pond watershed, according to a press release from ALT. Sisson Pond is one of Aquidneck Island's seven public drinking water reservoirs.

The Faria property slopes east to Sisson Pond; if it were developed into the seven house lots a hypothetical subdivision plan shows, polluted runoff from the houses and pavement would drain directly into Sisson Pond, according to ALT.

The Faria property also has significant agricultural, wildlife habitat, watershed protection and scenic values, ALT says. Located within ALT's Center Island Greenway, the property is contiguous with approximately 294 acres of land previously conserved by ALT, including farmland to the north and Sisson and St. Mary's ponds to the east.

"Development in our watersheds has increased over the years, adding more houses and roads where forests and fields once were,” said Chuck Allott, the ALT’s executive director. “Maintaining this property as open space, and others like it, is critical to protecting the quality of our drinking water supplies on Aquidneck Island. This conservation easement also protects prime farmland, so much of which we have lost on Aquidneck Island."

A representative of the Faria family stated, "We are certain that our parents would be proud to know that we have worked with ALT to preserve the land they loved so much. We all worked together as a family on this land, and the decision to keep it as farmland was the right choice for all of us."

ALT thanked its partners in the project: the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the Town of Portsmouth, “both of whom have made a lasting difference by supporting the conservation of this important watershed parcel.”

The conservation easement on the Faria's land is a perpetual legal agreement that will ensure the property is not further subdivided or developed, while allowing sustainable, productive agricultural use of the land, according to ALT. The Trust will be responsible for ensuring that the terms of the conservation easement are upheld with current and future owners of the property.

For more information about the nonprofit ALT, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.