Sites at Stake

A map of the Narragansett Bay watershed, marking the threatened sites listed in this blog.
Sites around the Narragansett Bay watershed are at risk due to sea level rise, pollution and more.

Sites at Stake

Highlights of the watershed’s most threatened natural locations

by Save The Bay’s Policy Team

From salt marshes to beaches, popular and familiar sites around Narragansett Bay face myriad challenges in the coming decades as pollution, climate change and rising sea levels threaten valuable habitats, public access sites, and more. 

 


  1. A warning sign next to one of Roger Williams Park ponds cautions visitors of a cyanobacteria bloom.
    A warning sign next to one of Roger Williams Park ponds cautions visitors of a cyanobacteria bloom.

    Location: The Ponds at Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I.
    Threat: Stormwater Pollution
    About the Site: Roger Williams Park ponds, like so many throughout our region, are threatened by stormwater pollution. Nutrients run off lawns and paved areas and into the ponds with each and every rainstorm. In recent years, this pollution has contributed to toxic algal blooms called “cyanobacteria.” Cyanobacteria is impacting not only urban ponds, but ponds throughout the state, from Almy Pond in Newport (see #6) to Slack Reservoir in Smithfield. Over the last decade, Providence’s Stormwater Innovation Center and community partners have been making efforts to direct stormwater into rain gardens or infiltration areas at the park. These initiatives have resulted in a significant reduction of stormwater pollution, but there is more work to do.


    A cedar tree in Broad Cove marsh has died off due to salt water.
    A cedar tree in Broad Cove marsh has died off due to saltwater, a sign that marshes are migrating inland.
  2. Location: Broad Cove, Dighton, Mass.
    Threat: Habitat Loss
    About the Site: Broad Cove is a salt marsh on the Taunton River in Dighton, Massachusetts. Like all of the salt marshes in Narragansett Bay and throughout the watershed, it is threatened by accelerated sea level rise, as drowning marsh plants are inundated by higher tides. We are working with the Town of Dighton to protect low-lying uplands so that the marshes can migrate as sea levels continue to rise, and so that the species that depend on the marsh habitat, like the threatened salt marsh sparrow, can survive for decades to come.


  3. Walls and roads collide with an eroding beach in Stillhouse Cove, depleting horseshoe crab spawning habitat.
    Walls and roads collide with an eroding beach in Stillhouse Cove, depleting horseshoe crab spawning habitat.

    Location: Stillhouse Cove, Cranston, R.I.
    Threat: Habitat Loss
    About the Site: Every May and June, horseshoe crabs take advantage of high moon tides to travel up on the beach to lay their eggs. For hundreds of millions of years, horseshoe crabs have been repeating this cycle, but, as sea levels rise, much of their spawning habitat is threatened by erosion and shoreline structures, like bulkheads and walls. Stillhouse Cove in Cranston offers a perfect example of this, as erosion has left only slivers of beach, all of which are bordered by walls protecting roads and buildings. Save The Bay and the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association have been working to regrade the steep bank at this site, adding natural materials and native plants to stabilize the bank. Adaptation efforts like these can provide an alternative to hardening the shoreline and further threatening horseshoe crab spawning habitat.


    An explosion of fiddler crab burrows has accelerated salt marsh loss throughout Hundred Acre Cove where sea level rise has stressed the marsh plants.
    An explosion of fiddler crab burrows has accelerated salt marsh loss throughout Hundred Acre Cove where sea level rise has stressed the marsh plants.
  4. Location: Hundred Acre Cove, Barrington R.I.
    Threat: Habitat Loss
    About the Site: Salt marshes in Hundred Acre Cove have been disappearing due to sea level rise. Fiddler crab burrows are making a bad problem worse by exacerbating erosion. As the marsh dies off, fiddler crabs are finding more areas to create their burrows in the marsh soil, furthering the deterioration of the marsh. Where healthy Spartina grasses once grew along the edge of Hundred Acre Cove, the banks are now bare. Chunks of salt marsh can sometimes be seen floating in the cove.


  5. High tides and storms contribute to the erosion at the southern end of Sea View Drive, and flooding throughout the nearby neighborhoods.
    High tides and storms contribute to the erosion at the southern end of Sea View Drive, and flooding throughout the nearby neighborhoods.

    Location: Sea View Drive Waterfront, Warwick, R.I.
    Threat: Flooding, Erosion
    About the Site: Signs of sea level rise are evident in Warwick’s Oakland Beach neighborhood. Erosion and flooding have been worsening along Brushneck Cove over the past decade. During coastal storms, waves erode the edge of Sea View Drive and, during moon tides, Bay waters flood the nearby, low-lying Strand Avenue. Save The Bay is working with the City of Warwick and the Oakland Beach Neighborhood Association to move these two vulnerable roads inland, enhance public access, and plant native coastal plants to slow erosion and treat polluted road runoff.


    Almy Pond
    Nestled among neighborhoods just north of Ocean Avenue in Newport, Almy Pond is prone to some of the most severe pollution in the State of Rhode Island.
  6. Location: Almy Pond, Newport, R.I.
    Threat: Stormwater Pollution
    About the Site: Almy Pond is a 50-acre inland pond located on the southern tip of Aquidneck Island, just north of Bailey’s Beach and Ocean Avenue. The pond has some of the highest measured levels of phosphorus of any pond in the state, with fertilization being a major contributor in this mostly residential watershed. These high levels of phosphorus—combined with increasing temperatures—lead to frequent algal blooms which trigger warnings to avoid contact with the water. Save The Bay is working with nearby residents to monitor the City of Newport’s progress in capturing stormwater pollution at the storm drains, and also exploring options to reduce over-fertilization in the area.


  7. Sandy Point Island
    Sandy Point Island’s beautiful landscape will eventually be lost to rising seas.

    Location: Sandy Point Island, Westerly, R.I. and Stonington, Conn.
    Threat: Sea Level Rise
    About the Site: Sandy Point is a beautiful, one-mile-long, 35-acre island in the middle of Little Narragansett Bay. Since the landfall of the 1938 Hurricane, the island has been migrating northwest, moving nearly 300 feet over the past 30 years alone. The site is accessible only by boat and is a refuge and breeding ground for horseshoe crabs, piping plovers, American oystercatchers, and least terns. This low-lying island provides an example of how an undeveloped shoreline naturally changes over time. Unfortunately, the fate of this island will be eventually sealed by rising seas and stronger coastal storms, but for the time being, it is an absolute ecological gem.

 


 

*Please note:  Be sure to access the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus through the main entrance on Harborside Blvd. Your GPS may suggest taking Ernest Street to JWU’s Shipyard Street entrance, but that route requires a key card for entry.  

From Route I-95 North or South, take Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Head downhill on Thurbers Avenue to US Route 1A (Allens Avenue). Turn right onto Allens Ave. Continue southbound on Allens Ave. into Cranston, where Allens Ave. becomes Narragansett Blvd. Turn left onto Harborside Blvd. at the traffic light by the Shell gas station. Follow Harborside Blvd. through the Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus. At the end of Harborside Blvd., turn right onto Save The Bay Drive. Save The Bay Drive becomes a circular, one-way roadway as you approach the Bay Center. Parking is available in four guest lots after you pass the main building. Enter the building through the main entrance.

Map

March 1, 2021

Dear Friends, Supporters and Community Members, 

At this time, Save The Bay’s facilities in Providence, Newport and Westerly remain closed to the public in response to COVID-19.

Save The Bay’s Seal Tours resume March 6, 2021, and we will hold outdoor public programs when Rhode Island’s COVID-19 state positivity rate is at or below 5%. In accordance with Rhode Island Department of Health travel guidelines, guests from states identified with a positivity rate of 5% or higher will not be able to join our programs. A complete list of our Seal Tour COVID-19 procedures and policies is available on our Seal Tour page

Save The Bay is offering limited volunteer and internship opportunities with new policies and procedures for the health and safety of all involved.

Our staff remains dedicated to working on our mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay from home. As always, we are accessible via email (listed on our website), or on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.