Around the Valley: Twilight on the Blackstone, virtual owls & open space grants

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The following are briefs and news from around the Blackstone Valley.

Twilight on the Blackstone

The Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative has announced that tickets are now on sale for Twilight on the Blackstone, featuring a gourmet meal on the city’s Court Street Bridge. The event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. and tickets cost $75. View the menu and buy your tickets at
2021 Twilight Tickets — DWC | Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative (dwc02895.org)

There are also sponsorship opportunities for the event with more information at  
Twilight Sponsorship — DWC | Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative (dwc02895.org)

Free virtual owls

Ever wonder whooooo’s flying around Rhode Island at night? Join the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island on Thursday, Aug. 12 for a virtual program on Rhode Island’s owl species. DEM staff will be sharing information about the state’s owls and the data collected by volunteers for the RI Breeding Bird Atlas, followed by a meet and greet with one of Audubon’s ambassador owls.

“We’ve received many requests from the public to host a virtual program on owls and are so excited to be partnering with Audubon for this unique event,” said Wildlife Outreach Coordinator Mary Gannon. “Owls are fascinating and ecologically important birds, but most people have probably never seen one in the wild because they are so secretive. At this program, folks will learn about Rhode Island’s owl species through the lens of the RI Breeding Bird Atlas, with a special visit from Audubon’s Kim Calcagno and one of Audubon’s feathered friends. This is a fun opportunity to get all of your owl questions answered.”

The free all ages event will take place via Zoom starting at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required at  https://forms.gle/NH5FDhbbF97zFKGj7

New public awareness campaign aims to reduce underage alcohol consumption

A recent study on youth behavior revealed that almost 59 percent of alcohol users aged 18-20 in Rhode Island reported obtaining alcohol from a friend or relative who is over the age of 21. Among the youth surveyed, 35 percent reported obtaining their alcohol from a parent or guardian.

To support the health and safety of their communities, six regional prevention coalitions; representing the Blackstone Valley, East Bay, Kent County, Newport County, South County and the Southern Providence region, including Cranston, Johnston and North Providence; have collaborated to launch Rhode Rules for Rhode Island, a public awareness campaign to educate and inform Rhode Island residents about the state’s Social Host Law. 

“Rhode Rules for Rhode Island is a public health awareness campaign aiming to educate and inform Rhode Islanders about the Social Host Law, which states it is illegal to buy, provide, or supply alcohol, or to provide a place to consume alcohol, to anyone under the age of 21,” said North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi. “The campaign also raises awareness of the social consequences for underage individuals who consume alcohol.”

Rhode Island is one of more than 40 states that maintain a Social Host Law. The law states it is illegal to buy, provide, and supply alcohol, or provide a place to consume alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. This means adults are held responsible even if they don’t know youth are consuming alcohol on their property. Consequences of breaking this law include fines up to $1,000, a prison sentence of six months for first-time offenders and mandatory educational programs approved by the Department of Health.

“Underage drinking harms the short- and long-term health of our young adults. It can also have devastating impacts on families and our communities, but it is 100% preventable,” said Tri-County Community Action Agency PFS Coordinator Kate Manning. “The goal of our new campaign is to encourage adults of legal drinking age to think twice before they provide alcohol to a minor and to store all alcoholic beverages out of reach.” 

Campaign materials are available for download and community members and prevention partners are welcome to share the materials with their communities. 

$3 million available for open space

The Department of Environmental Management has announced that $3 million in matching grants is available to help communities and local organizations protect green space throughout Rhode Island. The grant round is now open, with a deadline of October 29.  Funding provided through the 2016 Green Economy Bond and the 2018 Green Economy and Clean Water Bond – which Rhode Island voters approved by a margin of almost 80 percent last November – is capitalizing the grants.

In addition to these grants, funding is available to cover some costs associated with appraisal, title and survey services.  Restrictions apply, and applicants are encouraged to review the grant guidelines available at www.dem.ri.gov. 

Electronic applications are encouraged and should be forwarded to Michelle Sheehan in the Division of Planning & Development at michelle.sheehan@dem.ri.gov by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29.  Proposals and supporting materials may also be mailed to Sheehan’s attention at DEM, Division of Planning & Development, 235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908. Municipalities, land trusts, and nonprofit land conservation organizations are eligible to apply. Applications will be reviewed and ranked by the Natural Heritage Preservation Advisory Committee, with final awards to be made by the State Natural Heritage Preservation Commission.  

Rhode Island’s wealth of historic parks, bikeways and green spaces provide for public enjoyment – in addition to improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state’s climate resilience, and supporting the economy.  Since 1985, over 12,000 acres of land have been protected.  As part of this grant round, awards up to $400,000 – which may cover up to half of the project cost – will help preserve lands that offer significant natural, ecological or agricultural value by direct purchase or conservation easement. Projects that connect or expand existing protected lands will be prioritized.  And climate change-related impacts of a project will be considered.  

DEM’s Green Space programs – which include Local Open Space, Outdoor Recreation, and Recreational Trail grants – fund land conservation, recreational land acquisition and development, and recreational trail development and improvement statewide.

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