Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 07-12-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JULY 12-18, 2018 NORTH SMITHFIELD 15 Once used as a hunting preserve, the property is home to dragonflies, deer and wood ducks and offers an oasis of wildlife just beyond the border with Woonsocket. It's an area Soares and other members of the Conservation Commission hope to make accessible to members of the public for hiking and other activities, but a number of chal- lenges stand in their way. "We're trying to get this to the point where the public can have some decent access. It's been a long struggle, and so far the beavers are winning," said Soares. The first challenge is getting there. The property has two access points, a public easement through private land on Greenville Road and a gate used by National Grid directly off the exit ramp from 146 south. Neither point has convenient parking, and both points eventually end in small ponds of water backed up from the beaver dams that line the swamp. One puddle stretching across the road beneath the power lines ranges in depth from about four inches to a few feet and effec- tively blocks access to the rest of the property to everything except all-terrain vehicles and perhaps a person in a very tall pair of waders. "When the flooding is at its worst, this is all underwater," Soares explained. "People can't walk through here, and there's 40-some acres of beautiful high- lands you can't get to." When The Valley Breeze first checked in on the property in 2016, Soares was supervising the installation of one of two "beaver deceivers," water diversion sys- tems costing about $1,200 apiece. Since then, the beavers have built another dam downstream, raising water levels beyond the systems' ability to lower them. Conservation Commission members have tried other methods to control the flood- ing over the years, breaking up dams and building a bridge of logs that was washed away in the rising waters, but the beavers continue to rebuild. "If I had an unlimited amount of money, we could build a board- walk all the way from Greenville Road to the high country, but we're talking 600 or 700 feet," said Soares. "I can't imagine the cost of that. We're talking tens of thou- sands of dollars to build a board- walk across the swamp." A few months ago, he request- ed an increase of $460 in the Commission's annual town budget to bring in rock and gravel to raise the level of the access road. He's hoping a higher road will solve some of the issues, but there's no guarantee the beavers won't build another dam and raise the level of the water again. "Beavers are very invested little rodents and they just continue to cut things down and build dams and there's really nothing you can do to stop them," he said. There is one solution the Conservation Commission hasn't tried yet. State law allows the trapping of nuisance beavers with a permit, provided they are not moved to another location where they could cause problems for someone else. Instead, the beavers must be killed, a measure Soares said the Conservation Commission is trying to avoid. "We have that option, but we're trying not to go that route. If we get this road repaired, we're hoping that that solves the problem," he said. For now, he and other members access the back section of the property by unlocking a gated area normally closed to vehicles and driving straight through the half- foot puddle to where an old log- ging road climbs out of the swamp on the other side. After passing a marker where Soares buried his Jack Russell terrier, Lucy, when she died in 2016, the road winds off into the woods, looping through 40 acres of heavy forest. It's land that's rarely seen except by members of the Conservation Commission who maintain the road and the occa- sional ATV rider trespassing on town property. At the back edge of the forest, where town property gives way to farmland off Woonsocket Hill Road, the road passes close to where Soares says a hunting cabin used by the former owner once stood. He has been hiking the area with permission for close to 30 years and was glad when the estate's inheritors decided to donate the property to the town, under the supervision of the Conservation Commission, in exchange for a small tax agreement. As it turns out, the adjacent swamp that made the property useless to develop has also, with the assistance of some beavers, blocked access to the pub- lic to whom the land now suppos- edly belongs. "They just keep expanding their range and causing problems," he said. Soares said work on the road would likely begin in August when the water levels are low. Until then, Cedar Swamp will remain as it is, a secluded patch of public land undisturbed except by nature's own builders. SWAMP From Page One 'We're trying to get this to the point where the public can have some decent access. It's been a long struggle, and so far the beavers are winning.' PAUL SOARES North Smithfield Conservation Commission chairman Blackstone Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Exceptional Care, In A Home-Like Setting 8 Butler Street, Blackstone, MA (508) 883-5818 • 24/7 Nursing Coverage • Consistent high marks on State Health Surveys • Private & Semi Private Rooms • Meals Prepared On Site • JCAHO Accredited • Short Term Rehabilitation •-In House Physical Therapists • Respite Stays Welcome • Short & Long Term Health Care Services

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