Portsmouth’s Oakland Forest joins Old-Growth Network

First forest in R.I. to join network that aims to connect people with nature

Posted 10/21/21

PORTSMOUTH — A small forest in Portsmouth will become the first in Rhode Island to be part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN).

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Portsmouth’s Oakland Forest joins Old-Growth Network

First forest in R.I. to join network that aims to connect people with nature

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — A small forest in Portsmouth will become the first in Rhode Island to be part of the national Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN).

The Aquidneck Land Trust’s (ALT) Oakland Forest will be formally inducted into the national network on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Sarah RobbGrieco, OGFN’s northeast regional manager, will present a plaque to ALT Executive Director Chuck Allott to celebrate the dedication of the forest. 

Oakland Forest, located off Carriage Drive on the west side of East Main Road, includes a regionally ecologically unique old-growth American beech forest, with trees estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old based on tree coring carried out in 2000. It was conserved by ALT with the support of the community in 2000. 

In addition to beech, the forest includes old growth tree forms of other species including white oak and red maple. 

The property was once part of a “gentleman’s farm” owned by the Vanderbilt family in the 1800s and 1900s. There is a row of 100-year-old rhododendrons running through the forested part of the old estate. The property includes a short 0.6-mile loop trail that traverses a 10-acre meadow and 20 acres of the old-growth beech forest. 

More information on the trail rules and other ALT trails can be found on their website: www.ailt.org.

“The story of Oakland Forest is a true grassroots conservation success story and one of the first properties ALT worked to save over 20 years ago,” said ALT Conservation Director Alex Chuman. “Once slated for development into condominiums, ALT worked with the community to purchase the land to forever protect this unique resource. It is a truly special thing to have an old-growth forest here on Aquidneck Island, one that is now recognized to be part of a national network.” 

The mission of OGFN is to connect people with nature by creating a national network of protected, mature, publicly accessible, native forests. The organization’s goal is to preserve at least one forest in every county in the United States that can sustain a forest, estimated to be 2,370 out of a total of 3,140 counties. 

OGFN works to identify forests for the network, ensure their protection from logging, and connect people to these properties to experience old-growth forests. The OGFN also educates about the extraordinary ecological and human wellness benefits of old-growth forests, and speaks out regarding immediate threats to specific ancient forests. Founded in 2012, OGFN has over 145 forests in 27 states currently in the Network. 

A first for R.I.

Oakland Forest will be the first Rhode Island forest to join OGFN, which includes other northeast forests such as Mohawk Trail State Forest in Franklin County, Mass., Belden Forest in Hartford County, Conn., and Zoar Valley Unique Area in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. The full list of forests in the network may be viewed at www.oldgrowthforest.net. 

“We are thrilled to be welcoming this beautiful and important forest to the network as the forest representative for Newport County and our first Rhode Island forest,” RobbGrieco said. “We applaud Aquidneck Land Trust for their work in preserving this special forest for generations to come.” 

OGFN depends on a volunteer in each U.S. county to help identify and induct forests into the network. Nathan Cornell of Warwick and Rachel Briggs of Chepachet are volunteer supporters of OGFN and county coordinators for Newport County. Interested volunteers are welcome to contact OGFN through www.oldgrowthforest.net. 

ALT, a nonprofit, has conserved 2,641 acres on 85 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. For more information, visit www.ailt.org.

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