Fry Pond Conservation Area

Location: The 80-acre Fry Pond Property is located west of Fry School Road approximately 1.1 miles south of the intersection with Sharp Street in West Greenwich, RI. The property also contains a 40 foot wide right of way leading 1,700 feet to the north, ending near Sharp Street. The property was acquired by the town in 1999 with the assistance of the RIDEM Open Space Grants and the Rhode Island Nature Conservancy.

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Habitats: The site lies in a deep valley just north of the foot of Raccoon Hill (elevation 560 feet) with the elevation at the valley bottom, at the edge of the cedar swamp, at 390 feet. The panoramic view from within the cedar swamp is of high wooded ridges rising 170 feet in elevation on three sides to the north, west and south. The property consists of an upland forest and a portion of an Atlantic white cedar swamp and leatherleaf bog bordering the Nooseneck River that flows through the cedar swamp . There is a rich diversity of habitats found on the property, supporting rare plants and a diversity of wildlife.

The property contains an excellent example of a level bog. This bog lies in a well defined basin with a diverse flora typical of bogs in the glaciated northeast including such species as Atlantic White Cedar, Leatherleaf, Pitcher Plant, Sundews, Orchids, and large and small leaf Cranberry. The upland portion of the conservation area consisting of the western ridge is composed of mature deciduous forest dominated by Red and White oaks, American Beech, and Red Maple.

Fry Pond bog, locally known as "Cedar Swamp" is an area of outstanding wildlife habitat diversity. Small pockets of open water and backwater channels in the wetland are highly attractive to wood ducks, other waterfowl and wading birds like the Great Blue and Green-backed heron. The wetland supports enormous populations of various amphibians including bull frog, spring peeper, wood frog and green frog. Snapping and painted turtles are common as are various snakes including northern water snake, garter snake and ribbon snake. Songbirds of many types are found in this wetland including Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Tree and Barn swallows, Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat, Swamp and Song Sparrows among many others. Species of mammals that are common inhabitants include mink, muskrat, beaver, weasels, and river otter.

Public Use: Public access to the Fry Pond property is limited to foot traffic only. Access to the upland portion of the property can be had from the west at the rear of the West Greenwich Town Hall. At this location, parking is provided and there is a hiking trail that leads approximately 0.5 miles to the western boundary of the conservation area. A trail head sign will be developed at this location to inform visitors about the property. At the present the parcel is open to walking although no formal trail network exists. An internal footpath/hiking trail is being planned for better public visitation. The nature of the planned hiking trail will be a low impact blazed loop footpath that will bring the public through the upland portion of the property while avoiding sensitive areas and the bog. A second access point to the property is available on Fry Pond Road, which is marked with a land trust sign and a short trail to the bog. A small canoe or kayak can be launched to explore the bog from this point No motorized vehicles are permitted on the property.

The primary purpose of this property is for the passive enjoyment of the natural environment by residents and conservation of its natural resources and biodiversity. Public use permitted on the property will consist of hiking, nature study and observation, and environmental education. Camping and bicycle riding are not permitted on the property. The conservation area also observes a "Carry In-Carry Out" policy as far a trash and litter are concerned. No collecting of any vegetation is allowed on the property.

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