Dunes & Buffer Protection Project
A major 2016 initiative is to protect the pond's buffers in highly vulnerable places like Beane Point and at the south end of Corn Neck Road near the Beachead. Supporting and replenishing these buffers is critical to the health of the pond. Since super storm Sandy in 2012, the dunes in this area have been severely impaired, due in part to poor re-vegetation when the road was rebuilt. The CGSP is concerned about a possible breach the next time there is another large storm. To strengthen the dunes & buffers for the pond, the CGSP has committed to funding the construction of “walkovers” for visitors to use rather than trampling the dunes. We are working closely with the town on the walkovers and other conservation groups to improve brush and grass planting.
To this end, the CGSP is establishing a special fundraising drive to partially offset the cost of constructing the walkovers, and are asking for your financial support from our Block Island friends, residents and visitors alike. Please join this conservation effort by making a generous donation now. Be a part of protecting the dune buffers, and thereby protecting our Island and the Great Salt Pond.
Champlin’s Marina Expansion
Nearly a decade ago, Champlin’s Marina submitted plans to expand the marina area approximately four acres, extending 240 feet beyond the current docks into the Great Salt Pond, with an additional 2,990 feet in fixed docks, for 140 more boats. The CGSP, the Town of New Shoreham, The Land Trust and The Block Island Conservancy, immediately joined forces to oppose the expansion. In a much awaited decision, the RI Supreme Court reversed Judge Netti Vogel’s Superior Court decision which, if allowed to stand, would have permitted Champlin’s Marina to increase the size of its facility by two-thirds by extending its docks 170 feet out into the Great Salt Pond. The Supreme Court decision comes in response to an appeal from the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, and other objectors, who argued that any decision to approve the marina’s expansion would have to come from the RI Coastal Resources Management Council which has sole authority to approve marina expansion applications, and that Judge Vogel’s decision to approve the marina’s expansion plans, without remanding the application back to the CRMC for reconsideration, was completely without precedent.
The ongoing hearings will allow new testimony to be introduced into the record. The Committee for the Great Salt Pond continues to be a powerful advocate for the protection of the pond.
Water Quality Testing
The purpose of the CGPS monitoring program is to ascertain the water quality in the Great Salt Pond by gathering information to determine the distribution and concentrations of contaminants in the water that are of concern. The results are used to track where the pollution is occurring and find ways to remedy it, as well as how to plan for the future. The results are also used to track changes in the water body over a span of time. Contaminants come from many different sources. On the pond, pollution comes from boats in the form of black water (raw sewage), grey water (water from washing boats, showers, dishes etc), and fuel leakage. From upland areas, sources include agriculture, failed septic and sewer systems, runoff from yards, and wildlife.
Non-Point Source Water Pollution
Based on our water-testing findings and those of many other island conservancy groups, it has become clear that non-point pollution has become one of the most challenging issues we face today. Non-point pollution is where there is not a major single pollution source but a collection of numerous smaller sources that amount to a large one. For example, typical non-point sources range from septic field leaching to fertilizers. As you can imagine, this requires a significant amount of work to track the pollution “up stream” in order to address and correct the “issues.” This will be a large and growing focus in order to further improve the water quality in the pond.