Spring Cleaning with Save the Bay Volunteers

One sign of spring at Salter Grove is the flocking of volunteers to clean up the park and help make it more enjoyable for visitors and safer for wildlife.

For many consecutive years, Save the Bay in Providence has organized groups for two-hour shoreline cleanups on evenings and weekends.

On April 2, 28 enthusiastic volunteers braved a sunny but cold and windy day for the first cleanup of 2022. They gave the season a great start by hauling out 376 pounds of refuse. Items ranged from small plastics, such as water bottle tops and cigar tips, to large foam pieces of boating equipment that weighed more than 20 pounds.

The first cleanup of the year is typically a large haul because so many items accumulate during the winter months. Anything that wind and waves can move end up trapped in vegetation of the park or mired in the mud of the shoreline.

A second group came out on May 23, an event that was part of the Earth Day and Earth Week initiatives planned by Save the Bay at many locations around the state. On a chilly morning, 25 volunteers removed about 110 pounds of trash. The teams did painstaking work in the northwest corner of the park between Narragansett Parkway and the waterline. This area of the park was recently cleared of brush by a separate group of FoSG volunteers. This project revealed years’ worth of accumulation of small plastics — not heavy, but great in number.

This year, a number of new cleanup leaders are training at Salter Grove, a good sign that the efforts will be sustainable for years to come. Salter Grove is an important site for cleanups, both because of its rich ecological diversity and the number of anglers it attracts each year.

The next spring cleanup will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 9 a.m. Interested volunteers should register at volunteer.savebay.org before attending. 

Photos by Save the Bay

Playground Safened

A thick layer of Rec Mix (thrice-ground wood fiber) purchased from Thompson Native Lumber was applied to the playground on Saturday, April 30th to restore safe play conditions. 

A hard-working group of FoSG members and volunteers spread 40 cubic yards of fiber in three hours.

From left to right and front to back: Jason Major, Matt LaMountain, Mark Weiss; Matt Dickinson, Pat (Milo’s mother) Stark, Marina Wong, Billie McGovern, Andy Lohmeier, and Carolyn Hardie. 
OK, we took a few breaks!

Not pictured in the group photo, but still contributing mightily were FoSG member Rep. Joe McNamara, and a visiting family that volunteered on the spot: Sean, Ben, and Maggie Rogan. (Sean P. Rogan is a member of the local Salter’s Groove band.)

The Rogan family pitched in to help. It’s great when parents involve their children in community work from an early age!

When the playground was first constructed in 2019, too little wood fiber, especially in the swing area, and exuberant use led to exposure of the underlying geotextile and gravel.

This was both unsafe and unsustainable. 

Two City administrations failed to address these hazardous play conditions despite FoSG’s repeated requests, so we acted to fill the breach.

Rubber swing mats have also been ordered to prevent excessive wear under the swings and slide for a total cost of $4,061.

We thank the Vivian J. Palmieri Charitable Trust for a generous grant that enabled this project. 

The ADA swing is not meant for adults so the sticker should not be tampered with. 
Gravel left in the play area could hurt a child. 

The playground and its plantings have cost more than $134,000, which took three years and considerable effort to raise. We need to make this last!

As guardians, let’s be sure that equipment is used responsibly and children are kept safe. Dogs must be leashed and under their owner’s control. Children should be coached on how to behave in a shared space. 

Added May 20, 2022: Neighborly volunteers Jay (L) and Jared (R) Reminder and FoSG volunteer Matt Dickinson (not pictured) installed the new swing mats.

Filling In the Gaps

Volunteers plant more prostrate conifers to take advantage of upcoming rain. 

All the plants in the parking area survived the winter, but there was still a lot of open space. So two dozen conifers (Blue Rug, Bar Harbor, Blue Pacific, and Nana) were added to more quickly cover the ground, which is expected to take 3-5 years.

Meanwhile, a barricade reminds visitors not to walk through the planted area until it is well established. A foot path has been provided at the northern end.

A thick layer of large wood chips has done a great job of retaining soil moisture where no water standpipe is available. Let’s keep this area clean and attractive! 

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Not Just One Bald Eagle, But Five!

A second-year Bald Eagle (left) and a third-year bird (right) overlooking North Cove on December 15, 2021 

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!

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Making a Better First Impression

Newly-planted parking area 

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. 

Artist’s rendering of planned new signage 

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. 

New rocks challenge energetic young visitors