Editorial - In support of a 'Wild and Scenic' designation
Warwick Beacon Online - Rhody Beat
Sep 28, 2010

To the Editor:

As many of you know our friend Steve Insana started in 2007 an application to the National Parks Service to have Buckeye Brook designated to the National Rivers Inventory as "Wild and Scenic". Steve wanted to see federal protections given to Buckeye Brook to protect it from over-development. It seems the city is gradually closing in on the Brook's banks. There is so much cultural history, scenic value, and conservation resources within the Buckeye Brook corridor that needs to preserved for the sake of future generations, as well as the habitat for the wild life that this brook sustains.

At first, one may ask: "How could little Buckeye Brook be considered Wild and Scenic? There is no minimum size required to be designated. Buckeye Brook is 7 miles long from its head water, Spring Green and Warwick ponds. Tributaries, Lockwood Brook 3 miles and Warner Brook 2 miles. The brook sits within the urban city of Warwick. It has remained untouched by the development to this point. Designation to the National Rivers Inventory as a candidate for inclusion to the National Wild and Scenic Program will assure that this not change.

Buckeye Brook supports one of the largest herring runs in Rhode Island. The protection and restoration of river herring is an established state and federal priority, and the strong runs associated with Buckeye Brook have the potential to meet "outstandingly remarkable" threshold for Wild and Scenic designation. The brook also supports runs of American and Lamprey eel, contributing to anadromous and catadromous fishery significance.

Warwick and surrounding areas of Rhode Island are among the earliest settled areas in New England. Buckeye Brook was the site of the very first mill in Warwick, built in 1652 by Thomas Stafford. Although the tidal mill is gone, remains of the breached dam exists today. Located close by from this location is the Samuel Greene homestead which has a rich history as a base for smuggling during the colonial era, and part of the underground railroad which delivered slaves from the south up to the north where they would find freedom. Along the banks of Buckeye Brook near West Shore road sits the remains of the John Warner house, which was burned during King Phillips War. It was in the Warner house where the first declaration against slavery was drafted and signed. Within Buckeye Brook's embankments are the locations of Native American summer and winter encampments and burial grounds. Many historical homes and cemeteries abound the brook. Including the burial site of Ezekiel Holliman who baptized Roger Williams, presumably in Buckeye Brook. There is also the gravesite of General Nathanael Greene, who was second in command under George Washington. One of two grave sites of John Wickes who was beheaded, (his head later discovered was given a separate burial site) during an Indian uprising know as "King Phillips War. Chief Ponham's Fort of the Shawomet Indians was also located along Buckeye Brook. Remains of more modern days gone by are remnants of the Union Electric Railroad bridge which passed over Buckeye Brook.

What I would ask if you could possibly write a letter of support on behalf of your organization supporting our efforts. Presently we are petitioning to the Warwick City Council at the next meeting for their support. Councilwoman Helen Taylor and City Solicitor John Harrington are drafting the legislation. These letters of support will help us with our efforts in advancing our cause all the way to Congress.

We are also requesting support from Congressman James Langevin, his support is critical, as the only way we will receive Wild and Scenic status is through an Act of Congress.

Support from other groups, organizations, departments of the State, and individuals like yours will show solidarity for this effort we continue to pursue. Please help us make the smallest river in the smallest state become Wild and Scenic.

Paul Earnshaw
Buckeye Brook Coalition
P.O. Box 9025
Warwick, R.I. 02889

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