Cleanup at Georgiaville Pond garners community support

Cleanup at Georgiaville Pond garners community support

SMITHFIELD – Smithfield contains significant water and resources key to the Woonasquatucket River system, said Lisa Aurecchia of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, which is why the nonprofit organization selected Georgiaville Pond for an upcoming community cleanup.

Aurecchia, director of programs at WRWC, said it is partnering with Smithfield to beautify Georgiaville Pond next Tuesday, July 13, from 2 to 7 p.m. Cleanup will include mulching, painting picnic tables, benches and the recreation building as well as installing a sign at the boat ramp, and completing projects assigned by the River Ranger team.

The project is funded by a grant from the Narraganset Bay Commission, said Aurecchia.

Volunteers are needed, she said, who will be joined by WRWC staff and volunteers, the Smithfield Conservation Commission Youth Corps, and members of the Smithfield Boy Scouts.

“We are definitely hoping residents will come out and participate. I definitely feel when you’re working with people who are using the space, it helps them respect it and become stewards,” Aurecchia said.

She said it also allows WRWC to introduce volunteers to the many other programs and projects its offers. She said WRWC offers recreational hiking, canoeing, kayaking, biking and camping trips. Aurecchia said WRWC is also focused on educating residents of the industrial and Native American history of the river.

Aurecchia’s partnership with the town over the past several years brought several beautification projects, including last year’s Jewel’s of Smithfield that placed informational placards at several locations around town.

Georgiaville Pond is a “great spot,” said Aurecchia, and is used frequently over the past year. She said it is important to help the town clean it up and help provide additional resources there.

Speaking of Smithfield’s importance to the Woonasquatucket River system, Aurecchia said Smithfield was one of the first reservoir systems in the United States, created to form a permanent water supply to power downstream mill operations lining the river in Johnston, North Providence and Providence.

“It’s a tiny river, the significance is pretty amazing,” Aurecchia said.

Aurecchia said the purpose of beautification and education projects is to get people to understand the system, its connectivity to its surroundings, and to help people feel connected to its resources.

“We want people to learn how we’re behaving greatly impacts what’s going on in the watershed,” Aurecchia said.

She said although the Woonasquatucket Watershed is small in comparison to others, there is a significant amount of the state’s population living near it or using its resources.

“It impacts a lot of people,” she said.

The WRWC’s Clare Brown said beyond its historic context of industrial, fishing, and transportation uses, the present-day Woonasquatucket watershed area offers a great variety of recreational uses.

Brown said the river shares a history of mill use as well Native American use pre-and post-European contact.

Brown said the cleanup will also help people understand and respect Rhode Island’s natural resources. In the future, she said the WRWC would love to continue to work with Smithfield and potentially get out more signs and amenities along the river.

For more information on the Geogiaville cleanup, or other WRWC projects, visit www.wrwc.org.