Arcadia Archives 1

Introduction to the Big Park in the Little State

An image taken on my way home as I was driving by the pond. 

The ocean state has more to offer than just its gorgeous beaches. It also has wooded paths, rolling fields, mountain bike trails, horseback riding, and fishing and boating areas. The sunset at the beach may be mesmerizing, but very little compares to watching it fall behind a large pond while sitting beneath a large pine tree. The Arcadia Management Area in Rhode Island is a very rarely talked about gem that most people have passed or entered. It spans more than 14,000 acres, making it the largest recreational area in the state. Arcadia covers land in West Greenwich, Exeter, Richmond, and Hopkinton (including Browning Mill Pond, Breakheart Pond, and Frosty Hollow Pond). There are numerous trails and one can spend an entire summer (or longer) investigating all of the territory it covers. It is a place set aside for the community to enjoy the outdoors and to spend quality time with one another without the input of technology. Here, wild life and people converge.

Currently, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is trying to claim a portion of this state park as its own. They wish to place a 13,000 square foot building at Browning Mill Pond. It will cost the state seven million dollars to create the building and there is no promise that it will be maintained by the group as other buildings under their care have become rather rundown. The building would be placed directly on the hill where many people meet to have picnics and also watch the sunset. 

By placing a building here, it would be ruining more than just a perfect sunset spot. It would be destroying the natural environment entirely. Trees would be cut, the terrain would need to be altered. The habitat of many animals in Rhode Island would be changed, and not for the better. On top of this, there would be run off into the pond which is home to many aquatic species (fish, turtles, frogs, and snakes). DEM is supposed to protect the environment, but placing such a building here, they would be causing unavoidable pollution. 

Let's take a look at the human element of Browning Mill Pond as it has been a large part of the Exeter/Richmond community for generations. It has been the location of many family outings for a large portion of the community. People from all across Rhode Island travel to the area to enjoy seasonal activities. 

Even in the winter, families can be seen here. The hill that DEM wishes to build on is perfect for sledding; children and adults alike can be seen in their snow gear, lugging sleds as their legs ache from the climb. As they zip down the hill though, smiles on their faces, all you hear is their laughter. The pond is a place of peace for many people, granted to us by the whispering water and the trees that all seem to have their own stories to tell. 

In the spring and summer, many families come here for picnics. Blankets are set up in the grass, on the hill where RIDEM plans to place their building, and families gather here with their snacks. Little children run along, weaving between the giant old trees that stand in a line. Parents sit reading their books, discussing life, and watching their children enjoy the same activities they did when they were young.  

Browning Mill Pond is an open space that is needed in today's technology-crazed culture. It is one of the few places left for families to enjoy together, especially in Rhode Island. It has been a staple of this community for generations. All ages enjoy the scenery, whether they are walking, jogging, or simply sitting in reverie. 

I have heard people speak of the pond as though it were a dear loved one. I have seen people break down in tears when they heard of the plan of the building. Browning Mill Pond, though it is a fixed location, has rooted itself in the hearts and memories of many. It is important that it remains there, with its hills and streams, its trees, fish, and turtles. People come here for peace and an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern New England life, they want an escape from walls and ceilings. 

Improvements are sometimes necessary. Changes are things that are simply unavoidable. However, Browning Mill Pond, as a part of nature, doesn't need to have man-made changes heaped upon it. 

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