Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 11-06-2019

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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14 THE VALLEY NOVEMBER 6-12, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION so either people are working and don't have recreation time, or maybe there's less hunters." Alves and his son, Matt, are both active hunters, but accord- ing to data gathered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, they're part of a declining trend. From 2000 to 2017, the number of licensed hunters living in Rhode Island fell from 10,530 to 6,291, a 40 percent drop. The number of deer permits purchased by hunters showed a simi- lar drop, from 17,827 in 2000 to 14,391 in 2017. That's concerning news for anyone involved with wildlife conservation, according to Dylan Ferreira, senior wildlife biol- ogist for the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife. In 1937, Congress passed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, ensuring that the vast majority of state conservation efforts are funded through hunting and fishing activities and firearms sales. Better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act for its spon- sors, the law places an 11 percent federal excise tax on long guns and ammunition and a 10 percent tax on handguns, ear- marking the proceeds for conservation and hunter education. "You have a pot of money that's then distributed to the state and the state agencies from the federal government," Ferreira explained. Interest in shooting sports and firearms sales have remained strong, but the decline in hunters impacts the amount of money Rhode Island is eligible to receive, he said. Pittman- Robertson funds are distributed in part based on the number of licensed hunters in the state, so states with more hunters can receive more funds. On top of that, states are required to pro- vide a 25 percent match, funds primarily generated through license and permitting fees for hunting and fishing. The end result is that small states such as Rhode Island, which don't generate as much income as larger states with active hunting populations, are sometimes limited in how much they can match and have to turn away federal funds. "Essentially, we're leaving money at the table that we're not using, so it just goes back to the federal government," said Ferreira. Pittman-Robertson funds are the primary driver of conserva- tion programs in Rhode Island. This year, the state purchased 103 acres abutting Glocester's Durfee Hill Management Area for just over $350,000 and another 16 acres abutting Burrillville's Round Top Management area for $120,000, all with federal and state conservation funds. The act also funds conservation programs for game and non-game species, including the threatened New England Cottontail. Once the primary rabbit species in Rhode Island, the New England Cottontail has since been replaced by the more common Eastern Cottontail and fallen prey to development and lack of new forest growth. "With a lot of the urbanization of Rhode Island and the fire management that we have, there's just less and less habitat for these rabbits," said Ferreira. In addition to funding conservation programs, he said, deer hunting can actually benefit the environment by helping to keep the state's thriving deer population in check. Though it might be difficult for someone outside the hunting community to understand, he said, permitted hunting is all part of a man- aged conservation program statewide. "I think that's one of the main things we have to kind of overcome, is it's hard for someone who's not intimately involved in the process to think that someone who's hunting and maybe harvesting a deer or two deer a year is actually benefitting deer in general and other species." That's one of the reasons the state offers a long list of hunter education programs, also funded by the Pittman-Robertson Act. In addition to the basic course required to get a hunting license, the Division of Fish and Wildlife offers workshops on everything from marksmanship to wild game cooking, most of them free of charge. Young people aren't hunting much One of the areas of focus is educating young hunters ages 12 to 14. According to Michael DiPietro, the state's hunter safety education coordinator, many teenagers today don't have a family background in hunting, so the free programs allow potential new hunters to try out the sport. "Not every kid today has a family member who is into hunt- ing to mentor them and show them the way," he said. DiPietro, a Hopkinton resident and longtime hunter, spent many years as a volunteer hunter safety instructor and envi- ronmental police officer before taking over the position this year. Like Alves, he described hunting as a rite of passage in his family. His own son got his first hunting license just after his 12th birthday, but now, at 16, rarely has the time to head out into the woods. "He plays sports, he plays football, he wrestles and runs track," said DiPietro. "He doesn't have a lot of time for hunt- ing. He hasn't taken it to this point as seriously as I would've HUNTING From Page One Continues on next page Those active talks are happening with mul- tiple potential buyers, he said. "It's very exciting," he said of the poten- tial revenue from the two buildings, which are no longer needed after public safety employees moved to a new safety complex and Marieville students were moved into two other new schools. The mayor is intending to soon bring the proposed Marieville building lease to the Town Council for approval. Lombardi has estimated a combined windfall to the town and its taxpayers of up to $5 million from selling or leasing the two properties, though he declined to discuss how much money is being discussed in the current talks. On a separate effort to gain new revenue through a town-owned property, the mayor says he's decided against taking an offer of $10,000 from Brad Aubin of the Hopscotch Room and Tumblesalts Café to purchase the former E.A. Brayton School at 2 Thomas St. in Centredale. He said officials are having a sign painted announcing that the property is being put up for sale or lease, but "mostly for sale." Given the strong interest in the other buildings, and the town's overall shortage of available commercial properties due to new development, the mayor said he'd like to see whether officials can secure a larger sum of money by marketing the building. The town hasn't yet gone public for a sale or auction, he said, so it makes sense to explore the possibility of more revenue. The old school building off Mineral Spring Avenue has been the target of local preservationists and the North Providence Historic District Commission who want to see it saved and converted into a mixed-use commercial hub. The Historic District Commission previ- ously sought letters of interest from develop- ers looking to restore the property, receiv- ing only a response from Aubin. PROPERTIES From Page One Butler Hospital launches Alzheimer's campaign PROVIDENCE – The Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital, a global leader in Alzheimer's disease research, is calling on Rhode Islanders to make Alzheimer's history through its #2020by2020RI campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise the number of participants in its Alzheimer's Prevention Registry to 2,020 by the start of 2020. The registry matches people who may be willing to participate in research with studies or trials for which they may qualify. Joining does not mean that partici- pants are required to be part of any study, just that they are willing to be contacted if it appears they may be a good match for one. The registry is open to anyone ages 40 to 85 with normal memory or mild memory loss. Those interested can join online at butler.org/ALZregistry, or by calling the Memory and Aging Program at 401-455- 6402. To learn more, visit butler.org/mem- ory or call 401-455-6402.

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