2012-03-08 / News

Environmental summit Saturday at URI’s union

One of the largest environmental events of the year in Rhode Island, the ninth annual Rhode Island Land and Water Conservation Summit, will be held at the University of Rhode Island’s Memorial Union on Saturday, March 10, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The day is filled with workshops ranging from learning how to preserve access to your local stream, the legal aspects of land conservation, and how to play “geocaching,” an outdoor treasure hunt game gaining wide popularity recently.

“The summit has become one of the prime networking days in the region’s environmental and green business community,” said Meg Kerr of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, and one of the summit’s co-organizers. “It provides workshop sessions on a variety of topics that members of the public, civic organizations and state agencies address on a daily basis, and we hope it can provide insights and education about how to effectively deal with those issues.”

The summit’s keynote speaker is the mayor of Fitchburg, Mass., Lisa Wong, who gained prominence by turning the Nashua River from one that could be walked across in the summer on the pulp from nearby paper mills, to being cleaned up and becoming the focus of the city’s redevelopment and serving as an economic driver for the city.

Under Wong’s leadership, Fitchburg has protected and opened to the public more than 2,000 acres of watershed lands through a combination of state-funded purchases, institutional grants and private donations. Private developers have purchased and are rehabbing mills along the river. Residents and visitors have returned to the river for hiking, fishing and hunting. New parks along the river are now central focus points for community: farmers markets, movie nights and art festivals

Wong’s address will be on urban conservation as a revitalization strategy. It will kick off the summit at 8:30 a.m. For more information, call 874-6482.

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