Pratt Conservation Area

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Location: The 56-acre Pratt Conservation Area is located 0.2 miles north of the intersection of Plain Meeting House Road and Saddle Rock Road, north of Saddle Rock Road and southwest of Welsh Hollow Road, West Greenwich, Rhode Island. The property was acquired by the Land Trust in 2001 with the assistance of the RIDEM Open Space Grants and the Rhode Island Nature Conservancy.

Habitats: The Pratt Conservation area is situated on the west-side of Bald Hill (elevation 629 ft) and contains moderate to steep slopes, comprised of the Canton-Charlton rock outcrop complex of soil types that terminate in a swamp along Acid Factory Brook. These soil types are steep and well drained with frequent exposed bedrock outcroppings. The site is not suited for farming or community development. The conservation area is forested and supports deciduous trees including, red and white oaks, red maple, hickory and beech, ideal for woodland wildlife species. The forested habitats of the conservation area further protect sensitive wetlands located along Acid Factory Brook, which forms the west boundary of the parcel. The Pratt Conservation Area itself borders the permanently protected forest habitats of the State-owned Wickaboxet Management Area that abuts it to the west, bringing the combined area of protected public open space to over 700 acres. The conservation area shares a 3,100-foot common border with State land.

The Pratt property contains a beautiful mixed age deciduous forest dominated by several large Red and White Oak trees and comprised of many other tree species including White Ash, Hickory, Black Birch, Large-toothed Aspen, Sassafras, American Beech, White Pine and Red Maple. The understory is likewise diverse comprised of Highbush Blueberry, Spicebush, Flowering Dogwood, Blue Beech and Sweet Pepperbush. The herbaceous layer contains a wide assemblage of plants including plants as different as Skunk Cabbage, Christmas fern and White Wood Aster.

A wide diversity of wildlife species inhabits the subject property. A large variety of invertebrates (butterflies, moths and beetles) and many other species commonly found in high quality woodland habitats live there including game animals and birds such as cottontails, fox, raccoon, mink, otter and white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and the wild turkey. Many non-game birds including hawks, owls and non-game songbirds and small mammals also inhabit the site. During migration, many passerines including some neo-tropical migrant species of wood warblers, thrushes (Wood thrush, Veery and Hermit thrush) and wood pewee can be found on the property. The conservation area provides important habitat for these wildlife species.

The Pratt property is geologically interesting and presents several good examples of Rhode Islands past geological history. The upland slope and ridge on the property is strewn with large surficial boulders, known as glacial erratics, remnants of past glaciation 10,000 years ago. Many of these surface boulders may have traveled great distances before being deposited there by the melting glacier. The property is a good example of a glacial till upland found in the western part of the state. Several interesting erratics occur on the property, many are large (10-15 feet long/high) and are covered with lichens, primitive plants. Areas of exposed bedrock on the slope above Acid Factory Brook add to the interesting nature of the area geology. Small cliffs and outcroppings of bedrock form prominent lookouts and places to examine the areas rock formations and geology. Many of the outcroppings are fern, moss, and lichen covered providing interesting plant habitats.

Public Use: Public access to the Pratt Conservation Area is now available at the small cul-de-sac on Saddle Rock Road off of Plain Meeting House Road. The trail head offers a new informational kiosk and property sign. Parking is limited within the cul-de -sac of this residential area. Please respect our adjoining neighbors. The new trail is limited to foot traffic only. All West Greenwich Land Trust properties are "Carry In Carry Out" conservation areas and we ask that you take all trash home for recycling. A new property and trail map will be available in the near future at the informational kiosk and our web site.

The primary purpose of the property is for the conservation of its natural resource values, wildlife habitats and for low impact use by the public. 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. No motorized vehicles will be permitted on the property . No collecting of any vegetation will be allowed on the property. Limiting the types of recreation allowed and where the public has access will minimize disturbance to wildlife and plant communities.

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