The Campaign to Save St. Mary's Church Land received a $400,000 boost from the state on Wednesday.
Governor Lincoln Chafee and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit awarded a total of $4.3 million in local open space matching grants to 15 communities, land trusts and conservation organizations.
Among the grants was a $400,000 award, which was presented to the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT). This open space grant will be used to fund the ALT's Campaign to Save St. Mary's Church Land.
“I am pleased to join with Director Coit to award these important open space grants,” said Governor Chafee. “Rhode Island is fortunate to enjoy unparalleled natural beauty. These grants will not only help us preserve and protect precious open space and farmland, but will also benefit one of our state’s key economic assets: our tourism industry. I am proud that we will be preserving these beautiful spaces for Rhode Islanders to enjoy for generations to come.”
DEM received 30 applications for the current round of grants, which were reviewed and ranked by the Natural Heritage Preservation Advisory Committee with final awards made by the State Natural Heritage Preservation Commission. The Commission then recommended awards to DEM Director Janet Coit for review and approval.
On May 25, the ALT, St. Mary's Church and the Trustees of the Sarah Gibbs Trust signed an Option Agreement. The pact gives ALT until May 24, 2013 to raise more than $3 million to conserve St. Mary's Church land between East Main Road and the St. Mary's Pond Reservoir.
With this state of Rhode Island grant award, ALT has raised about $2.6 million in grant awards and cash against the agreed upon $3 million purchase price for the nearly 70-acres conservation area.