Warwick Beacon Online - Warwick, RI
Editorial: Wild and scenic in our midst
Jun 26, 2008

The words "scenic" and "wild" aren't usually the first to come to mind to describe Buckeye Brook.

Rather, for those that know the brook that flows under Warwick Avenue , more descriptive adjectives might include: overgrown, littered with debris and barely more than a trickle during summer's hot and dry spells.

That's unfortunate because there's a lot more to Buckeye Brook than what's visible from Warwick Avenue . One gets a better perspective of this waterway from West Shore Road or further to the east from Tidewater Drive .

On June 21 more than 40 people from children to senior citizens gained an even closer glimpse of the brook as they paddled a flotilla of kayaks and canoes from Conimicut Point Park into Mill Cove and then upstream to the West Shore Road bridge.

What they saw and learned from representatives of the Buckeye Brook Coalition that guided the excursion would surely surprise those who are convinced we live in a suburban wasteland of concrete and asphalt.

Along the way they heard of how the American Indians once camped on the banks of the stream and they saw the remnants of the trolley trestle that once provided a connection to Rocky Point. They heard about the colonial settlers of Warwick and they saw some of the older houses along the way. They also found a bit of wilderness in our midst. At times there were no signs of habitation and it wasn't that difficult to imagine being transported back to another era, if not, a place far from Warwick .

Buckeye Brook Coalition President Steve Insana, who since he was a boy has explored the brook and knows it intimately, calls this the "pristine" part of Warwick . He's right for wanting to showoff this jewel and broaden support to save this resource.

A major part of what the coalition is seeking to do is to ensure the brook continues to be a herring run. This year's run was better than the past several years but nothing like those of 30 years ago when for weeks the stream was filled with the spawning fish.

The coalition has initiated efforts for the National Park Service to designate Buckeye Brook as a scenic and wild river. It's a long shot. No Rhode Island river carries the designation that would make brook conservation programs eligible for federal grants.

But even should the application not succeed, there's much to be gained. The nomination includes development of a conservation plan and with heightened awareness not only will people realize there's much more to the brook than immediately meets the eye but it is also a place to be cherished.