Previously, Bald Eagles seen at Salter Grove have been rare and solitary. It was therefore a great surprise to see five of them around North Cove the morning of December 15, 2021.
During 90 minutes of observations from the causeway the eagles were mostly at rest, enjoying the sunshine on the large rocks and breakwater near Marsh Island, or roosting in two very tall tree crowns above houses on the western shore. They must have dined well recently because none of the eagles bothered to steal fish from gulls busily feeding nearby. Despite their majestic bearing, Bald Eagles are well-known kleptoparasites!
A good start to improving the appearance of the parking area was made with plantings of evergreen conifers in a damaged lawn area and the addition of rocks and winterberry to the rain garden by Atlantic Lawn and Garden. We are grateful for a grant from The Champlin Foundation, which funded this project.
We are waiting on DPW’s schedule to remove the unsightly signage around the flagpole at the top of the parking area and to pour concrete pads for replacement signage and an additional waste receptacle. These components of the parking safety and esthetics project have been funded by a grant from the Vivian J. Palmieri Charitable Trust.
Come spring we’ll replace the plants that did not survive, fill in the gaps to more quickly establish ground cover, and seed the bare patches on the perimeter of the parking lot. Meanwhile, the latter are protected from erosion by jute mats.
Low plants were selected to preserve the view of the coves. Please help the plants grow healthily by not crossing the temporary barrier placed around them.
FoSG volunteers Marina Wong and Joan DiSanto gave a tour of Salter Grove on October 16th to members of the Environmental Action Club from La Salle Academy (Megan Chan, Kendall Leishing, Leya Mohan, Aidan Murray, and Mia Swenson) so they can assess how to dedicate their community service hours to help mitigate the environmental problems of the park. Several of the students were particularly interested in coastal and marine environmental issues.
Students quickly realized that they cannot distinguished native plants from introduced plants just from looking so they were shown specific examples and readily learned to recognize poison ivy—a native even if noxious species! Of the 17 climbing plant species in the park, they examined how three of them used different techniques to reach the tops of trees. The students were also challenged to describe the arrangement of leaves, a key character used to identify woody plants.
The budding environmentalists from La Salle Academy also walked the length of the breakwater from the southern tip of Rock Island northward to Marsh Island while pondering how the breakwater and causeway have created three aquatic habitats where there used to be just one. They also saw first hand how some recent visitors like to leave trash behind to mark their visit on the breakwater.
Little did these students realize how much effort had already been expended in trash removal during 2021 by numerous Save the Bay cleanups spearheaded by Andy Lohmeier, and frequent litter patrols by Jason Major, both FoSG members. The breakwater has actually not been so clean for a while!
Nonetheless, and unsurprisingly given their concern for the environment, EAC members found the trash so unsightly on the breakwater that they would like to get the litter load even lower. So besides helping to manage invasive plants at the park, they would like to schedule a school-wide cleanup of the breakwater in November to close out the year.
Salter Grove plays an important role in the struggle for the health of the oceans as one of the settings of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) organized by the Ocean Conservancy and Save the Bay.
Each year, volunteers around the world join together in both cleaning beaches and documenting the waste and pollution that they find. The Ocean Conservancy launched this project over 30 years ago.
Salter Grove is the site of three of the 30 ICC events this year planned by Save the Bay as the Rhode Island State Coordinator. The first took place on September 11, which also coincided with the National Day of Service and Remembrance commemorating the 2001 terrorism attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Another public volunteer cleanup is scheduled for September 25, and a corporate group will do a cleanup in October.
This year’s total is one event shy of the 2019 record, when Salter Grove hosted four ICC cleanups and over 70 volunteers.
Additional ICC events are happening around the state. Last year, even with the partial shutdown of activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 600 volunteers joined in the ICC, collecting more than 4,000 pounds of trash from Rhode Island Shores.
Top three trash items collected in 2020 RI International Coastal Cleanups: 11,662 cigarette butts 5,250 plastic pieces (under 2.5 centimeters) 2,623 plastic bottle caps Source: 2020 International Coastal Cleanup / Rhode Island Report & Call To Action.
The efforts of individual volunteers and Save the Bay groups have improved the trash control situation at Salter Grove, but more needs to be done. Food and beverage packaging left behind by recreational visitors and washed in by the waves still pollutes the area and poses risks to wildlife.
Volunteer efforts are gradually bouncing back with the reopening of normal activity in the state. The number of volunteers per cleanup has returned to a little more than 60% of the 2019 average.
There has been a number of surprising sightings at Salter Grove this summer!
Immature Bald Eagles have been sighted now and then during the winter months over the park. However, in early August, a few visitors got to see a mature adult perched in the black oak southeast of the entrance to the causeway. It was photographed as it flew off by Ian Ohara, a graduate student in the Environmental Studies Department of the University of Rhode Island.
Friends of Salter Grove member Jason Major was on scene as well and captured cell phone video of the eagle perched in a tree just east of the causeway path entrance:
Salter Grove isn’t just a great place to picnic, play, and go fishing—you can also find it artistically inspiring like Pat Perry did in July! Pat set up her portable easel for a bit of “plein air” painting, capturing the beauty of the cove, causeway, and breakwater from the eastern shore under a bright summer sky.
Pat came “all the way” from West Greenwich to paint a view from Salter Grove.
And earlier today on the west side of the park, “sidewalk artists” Sabrina and Adam created quite an impressive display of magical beasts, national flags, and planets to explore in chalk on the paved path to the playground.
You never know what may inspire you at Salter Grove!