WEST GREENWICH, R.I. -- Conservationists have purchased the final tract of land needed to complete an 805-acre preserve that will ensure environmental protection and sustainable drinking water along the heavily developed Queen River.
The Nature Conservancy paid owners Dennis Almonte and Anthony DellaGrotta $865,000 for a 98-acre parcel in this forested, rural area. It was the fifth purchase in four years and completes the Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve.
The preserve contains forests and wetlands and will be off-limits to development.
Lee Alexander, the Nature Conservancy's South County landscape manager, told The Providence Journal that the purchase was exciting. ''The condition of the water that flows downstream affects the downstream plants and animals," she said. ''We needed to preserve forested land because it acts like a natural filter."
DellaGrotta said that he and Almonte originally decided to develop the property, ''but as you get a little older and wiser, you realize there are more important things in life than making money off a development," DellaGrotta explained. ''We knew that the Nature Conservancy would protect the land and its beauty."
Alexander said the parcel features brook trout and otter, native species that will be protected from hunters. The land will be open for research and activities such as nature walks and bird-watching.
Underneath the Queen River is groundwater that provides drinking water for much of Exeter. The area is part of the Pawcatuck Basin Aquifer, which provides drinking water for more than 60,000 residents in South County.
''The Queen River is one of the most pristine in New England, very clean and cold," Alexander said.
The preserve borders the 108-acre West Greenwich Land Trust, meaning that more than 900 acres of land in the Queen River area is protected.
The Nature Conservancy has 24,000 acres of protected land in Rhode Island, including almost 1,800 acres in the Queen River watershed.