Point Judith Pond
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Point Judith Pond

Point Judith Pond is one of the largest and most heavily used of all the salt ponds.  There is a diverse mixture of development around the shores of the pond, ranging from commercial to residential and open areas.  In the urban center of Wakefield at the head of the pond, and at the port of Galilee at the mouth of the pond, there is intense commercial development.  Galilee is Rhode Island’s largest commercial fishing port and terminal for the ferry to Block Island.  In addition, it is a center for charter boats and recreational boating facilities.  Marinas are also located in the upper basin and around Snug Harbor in the lower pond.  The harbor is dredged approximately every five years by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a dredged channel extends from the harbor up the western side of the pond to provide access to marinas in the northern basin.  Harbor Island, Great Island, Jerusalem, and Snug Harbor are developed residential communities.  State ocean beaches at the mouth of the pond attract thousands of tourists each summer.  North of the beaches are areas of relative open space, including state wildlife refuges of salt marshes on the tidal flats.  Rhode Island’s most intensively fished recreational shellfish area is located in East Pond tidal flats.  Politically, the pond is divided down the middle.  The eastern side is under the jurisdiction of the town of Narragansett and the western side is under the jurisdiction of South Kingstown. 

The natural configuration of Point Judith is distinct from the other ponds.  A drowned valley its axis is perpendicular to the ocean shore instead of parallel to it, and it is the only pond with a relatively large river, the Saugatucket, flowing into it.  It is also the only pond with sizable islands within it.  The combination of the river flowing into the upper pond and restricted circulation through the narrows around Harbor Island make the upper basin very susceptible to pollution.  This is evidenced in the routinely high bacteria concentrations measured there by pond watchers and by DEM.  The upper basin has been closed to shellfishing for years.  Point Judith is an important spawning ground for winter flounder and for bay scallops and supports abundant fish and shellfish populations.

This text is from Salt Pond Watchers Summary Data Report 1985 – 1987, Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island Technical Report No. 10, October 1990, by P. Kullberg, V. Lee, and M. Platt.

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