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ACWS Team Completes Rain Garden at Fort Adams

The project aims to control invasive plant species and enhance the water quality in Brenton Cove.

America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) sailors, staff, media, and volunteers planted Rhode Island native trees and shrubs at a newly constructed rain garden at  This green infrastructure project is designed to mitigate storm water runoff from paved areas at Fort Adams State Park, enhance water quality in Brenton Cove, control invasive plant species, and enhance the park’s landscaping with native Rhode Island vegetation.  

The rain garden was constructed entirely by volunteers as part of a collaborative effort organized by the Department of Environmental Management, in conjunction with the ACWS Host Committee and Sailors for the Sea. DEM is working with Sailors for the Sea and other private sector groups including Louis Berger Group, Inc. of East Providence, GLA Division of BETA (formerly Gates, Leighton & Associates) of East Providence, and the RI Nursery and Landscaping Association to improve the park through projects that will improve its environmental footprint. 

The 34th America's Cup is committed to delivering a model sustainable sporting event and to leave a positive legacy in the local communities it visits. The 34th America’s Cup is committed to hosting environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable events in the World Series venues, as well as the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup Finals in San Francisco. 

“The rain garden is yet another example of the America’s Cup trying to leave the environment in better condition than they found it through this volunteer project,” noted DEM Director Janet Coit.  “This project is also important because it demonstrates a best management practice that can be replicated throughout Rhode Island.” 

The 600 square-foot native rain garden is located on the left side of the main parking area at FortAdams State Park near the park entrance from Harrison Avenue. The garden will capture surface runoff from the parking lot and treat the storm water using a combination of filtering, biological activity, plant uptake, and adsorption onto soil grains. 

The Fort Adams rain garden features native Rhode Island shrubs and plantings generously donated by local nurseries including Blue Moon Farm Perennials of Wakefield, Rhode Island Nurseries of Middletown, Stewart Nursery of Wakefield, Briden Nursery of Cranston, and All Island Landscape of Portsmouth. Serviceberry trees, Witch hazel, Summersweet, and Seaside Goldenrod are among the varieties of native plants that will be installed in the garden.  As part of the rain garden construction, non-native species were removed from the site and replaced with native plants that provide many benefits – from being in tune with native wildlife, to being in tune with our region’s climate.   Landscaping with native Rhode Island shrubs and plantings also supports local nurseries. 

Rain gardens are increasingly being used as a best management practice to help avoid, reduce, and mitigate storm water runoff into nearby waterways.  Stormwater is a significant contributor of pollution sources to our state’s waters. Retrofitting old paved areas and incorporating new swales and rain gardens into design will improve water quality and can be incorporated in numerous public sites across Rhode Island.

“This rain garden project is important because it will improve conditions at Fort Adams State Park and demonstrates measures that people can take to lessen impacts from storm water. So, while the location and effect of our specific project will immediately improve water quality in the cove, the true impact will be seen when our project influences other actions at parking lots across RI,” added Director Coit. 

“DEM is encouraging greener events at its facilities, and the ACWS sets a new high water mark for sustainable events at Rhode Island state parks,” noted Director Coit.

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