Benefits of Our Southern Rhode Island Salt Ponds

Clams and other shellfish can’t travel very far from where they begin their life, so if water conditions become unfavorable, they’re in trouble.  They need healthy conditions to thrive and maintain stocks.  They are also filter-feeders and siphon large volumes of water through their systems (up to 50 gallons per day for adult oysters!).  If the water has high levels of bacteria, shellfish are likely to harbor it, posing a risk to humans.  The SPC water testing programs help identify degraded areas and we work with the appropriate agencies to turn things around.  We are also active in shellfish restoration programs and in restoring important habitat.  If you love shell fishing, investing in an SPC membership makes good sense.

The ponds are incubators to juvenile game fish as well as millions of bait-fish. A clean, functioning ecosystem, with plenty of natural habitat, is crucial to attracting and holding strong runs of game fish. Elevated nutrient levels in the ponds, driven mainly by increased housing density, threaten these nurseries with reduced oxygen levels that can retard growth and even result in fish kills. The SPC has a strong long-term testing program in place, but needs your help to keep it going and press officials for pond- and fish-friendly policies.

The ponds offer sheltered, warmer waters, that in many places are great for swimming—particularly for young kids. However, high bacteria levels can make it unsafe to swim in some of the ponds, especially in the hot summer months. SPC testing programs help to identify problem areas so that corrective action can be taken. Please join the SPC and help ensure clean waters for current and future generations. (Note that most areas in the ponds do not have lifeguards, so precautions should be exercised.)

Clean water and an abundance of marine life are two key ingredients in boating enjoyment. Development pressure around the watershed can produce dangerously high bacteria and nutrient levels, which jeopardize the vitality of the ponds. The SPC offers you a way to make a difference –please join us today and help ensure the quality of boating on these idyllic waters.

Hooded MergansersBirding
Birds are attracted to the habitat and food found in the salt ponds. During the summer, many species nest in protected areas and feed on abundant marine life. During the migrations, an amazing variety of species stylize the ponds as a stop-over. SPC efforts to promote clean water and healthy conditions for marine life help to ensure that migratory and resident birds will find the resources they need, now and in the future. Without citizen involvement, nutrient levels could continue to rise to the detriment of critical forage species that shore birds rely on. Please join us in the ongoing struggle to protect these critical resources.

The fun of beach-combing is exploring high-quality waters and finding a wide variety of fascinating marine life. Whether it’s shells, birds, crabs, or small swimming creatures, clean waters help ensure that there are natural treasures to discover. SPC programs help keep the pond environment vibrant. We also run fun and educational outings that introduce participants to all sorts of often-overlooked natural gems.

Ducks and geese are drawn to the salt ponds because they offer sheltered waters, as well as food supplies. Clean water and healthy marine habitat are fundamental building blocks to ensure the birds find what they need to maintain healthy populations. SPC works to ensure that water quality and habitat are maintained, and when needed, restored, so that the whole food web can remain viable and sustainable.

TubingWater Sports
Isn’t it nice to know, as junior achieves separation and heads for face-first re-entry, that someone is keeping tabs on bacteria levels in the pond water? SPC has conducted bacteria testing in the south-shore salt ponds since the mid-1980s and reports results and observed trends to local, state, and federal regulators. Our objective is to help ensure water that is good for the wildlife—kids included.

Salt Ponds Coalition P.O. Box 875 Charlestown, RI 02813 (401) 322-3068 saltpondscoalition@gmail.com