Warwick Beacon Online - Warwick, RI
Insana pushing 'wild & scenic' designation for Buckeye Brook
by John Howell
Nov 13, 2008

Steve Insana is looking to give Warwick, and Rhode Island for that matter, something it doesn’t have – a nationally designated wild and scenic river.

The founder of the Buckeye Brook Coalition and its president, Insana has taken the first step to gaining that designation from Congress for the stream. Not only does Insana believe Buckeye Brook meets the criteria to gain the designation, but that as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System – 160 rivers or portions of rivers nationwide– funding and grants would become available for its conservation.

And in case there are those who think it is impossible that there is a wild and scenic river in the midst of the state’s second largest city, Insana is extending an open invitation to anyone with canoes and kayaks to join him Saturday. The group will assemble at Conimicut Point Park at 9 a.m. From there they will paddle along the shore up into Mill Cove and then under the bridge at Tidewater Drive until they reach the bridge at West Shore Road and turn back.

“It will take them through the pristine part. I want everyone to see what I’m talking about,” Insana said of the intended excursion.

One of those Insana had hoped would see it firsthand is Jamie Fosburgh of the National Park Service. Because of a prior commitment, Fosburgh, whose office is based in Boston, said Tuesday he couldn’t join the paddlers.

He said he has helped Insana submit an application to place the brook in the inventory, a first step for a study process to determine if the stream meets the criteria and to the development of a conservation plan to protect its free-flowing character and significant resources.

“We will work on our end,” Fosburgh said.

Insana believes Buckeye Brook is a perfect candidate for the designation.

The brook is one of the state’s uninterrupted natural herring runs; offers natural beauty and has a rich history from Colonial times as an encampment area for American Indians.

“There’s no way they can shoot this down,” Insana said of the designation.

According to the National Park Service Web site, it’s going to take some time. The site reports the study process typically takes about three years from start to finish. A benefit of the process, whether a designation is the outcome or not, is that a conservation plan has been developed that will help guide decisions that could potentially impact the stream.

One agency Insana expects won’t be especially happy with his efforts is the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. Insana is a vocal critic of the airport’s failure to capture all of the glycol used in de-icing aircraft, which eventually finds its way into the brook. In years past he has blamed the glycol for the dramatic reduction in the brook’s herring runs. There was a time 20 and 30 years ago when the brook would be teaming with herring from mid April to late May as the fish swam upstream into Warwick Pond to spawn before returning to the bay.

Herring runs have declined at all rivers and streams feeding into the bay with barely any fish recorded at Buckeye Brook some years. The taking of herring, often used by sports fishermen as bait, has been banned. And this year, Insana reported, there was a good run on April 29 when schools of fish were spotted throughout the three-mile course of the stream.

Insana, who was recently appointed by Gov. Carcieri to the Public Advisory Committee of the Rhode Island Bays, Rivers and Watersheds Coordination Team, is confident that Buckeye Brook can earn the designation he says it deserves.

For more information about Saturday’s trip, which is expected to last about two hours, contact Paul Earnshaw 401-739-6592 or Steve Insana 401-737-1342.