Restoring Warwick wetlands after airport expansion

By: Chelsea Priest

Buckeye Brook is a four and a half mile area of wetlands running through Warwick and out into Narragansett Bay.

Over the years T.F. Green's needs have cut into some of the brooks surroundings. Now, with the expansion underway, some safety improvements will fill in about 3 acres of wetlands.

Paul Earnshaw is the President of the Buckeye Brook Coalition, a group that has been protecting and restoring Buckeye Brook for years. He explains, “well, when they fill in an area of wetland and it's been allowed and permitted, they have to make up for this.” And the airport is planning to do that on a part of its' current property. Earnshaw says that the Rhode Island Airport Corporation has been open to their ideas but also thinks the plan for wetlands compensation isn't enough.

An area along West Shore Rd. in Warwick has been the focus of the coalition for the past 3 years. The restoration of the marsh area is ongoing. What the coalition is hoping for is that the airport will help support that restoration project.

A statement from President and CEO of RIAC, Kelly J. Fredericks says, “We are excited to move forward with this project as we believe it allows us to make some significant environmental improvements.”

Earnshaw goes on, “This is something that has to be collaborated on amongst stakeholders and we believe we are a major stakeholder. After all, we were created to be the voice of Buckeye Brook.”

The airport plans are currently under review by the DEM which will make the final decision on where the airport will make up for the wetlands. A decision is expected by June.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014