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Rhode Island Restoration Site to Receive Coastal America Award
Date Posted: September 1, 2006Coastal America is presenting a Partnership Award on September 11, 2006 to agencies and individuals in recognition of the collaborative success of the Lonsdale Drive-In restoration project in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The Coastal America Partnership is a collaborative effort of federal, state and local agencies working to protect, preserve and restore U.S. coastal resources.
Located within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor near the Valley Falls marshes, the Lonsdale Drive-In site was one of the most highly valued freshwater wetlands in Rhode Island. The land was used as a pasture for many years until the early 1950s, when 23 acres were paved to construct the drive-in. The theatre was closed in the early 1980s.
To restore the area, twenty acres of asphalt and assorted debris from the drive-in were removed, creating a 7-acre wetland, and restoring 13 acres of upland riparian habitat along the Blackstone River. Some of the excavated material was kept on site and graded to provide a natural, aesthetically pleasing landscape with rolling hills. The area now provides shelter to waterfowl and habitat for declining grassland bird species. The scattered trees and shrubs that were planted on the property provide shelter and nesting habitat for songbirds. In addition, he area now provides considerable recreation value, including a segment the Blackstone Valley Bikeway which was constructed through the upland portion of the site from John Street to Lonsdale Avenue.
The restoration plan was developed by an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, hydrologists, engineers, and economists, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rhode Island's Natural Heritage Program and Department of Environmental Management, University of Rhode Island, the US Army Corps of Engineers New England District Office, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The bulk of the $2.6 million restoration funding came from the Army Corps of Engineers, who matched funds provide by the Service, State of Rhode Island, and Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. The Service and the State contributed $200,000 the agencies received as compensation for the destruction of wetland habitat at the Landfill and Resource Recovery, Inc (L&RR) Superfund Site in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. L&RR is a 28-acre former landfill facility that operated from 1920 until 1986. When the landfill was closed, it was covered with a synthetic cap. This process caused the destruction of nearby wetland habitat.