Human communities that have greater biodiversity are healthier and more prosperous.  This is true whether we are discussing inner cities or indigenous homelands.  And water is often a determining factor in biodiversity because without clean water there is limited life.  Using Nature Based Solutions to manage stormwater in urban communities can provide cleaner water. If we think about, water is used to maintain and increase biodiversity, which is very a good thing.  

Several years ago Friends of the Moshassuck stumbled upon a feral wetland that catches the rainwater runoff from several acres of Providence’s North Burial Ground, and began a long-term, video-oriented study of life in the Rainwater Pool. All of the rest of the stormwater in the 109-acre cemetery flows into the sewer system and directly into the Moshassuck River. It turns out that this 6000 square-foot wetland (1/7th of an acre) contains the only known breeding population of Fowler’s Toads in Providence, but is rapidly silting in and will lose its ability to host breeding toads in a very few years if the silting in is not addressed.  Here is a link to a recent video on the condition of the rainwater pool.


The City of Providence Parks Department and Friends of the Moshassuck agreed that a little routine maintenance of the site could preserve the toad habitat, and that it would be also a good thing to use it as a demonstration site to encourage the use of other places that capture stormwater with current or potential amphibian habitat to incorporate amphibian-friendly practices into the maintenance of the sites.

The RI Department of Environmental Management has a stormwater manual that supports green infrastructure in general but doesn’t consider the opportunities for restoration of stormwater systems for amphibians.  Friends of the Moshassuck worked closely with the RIDEM Restoration Team on the difficult task of applying for a permit to maintain the small urban wetland and protect the Fowler’s Toad habitat. 

After months of delay, Friends of the Moshassuck was able to obtain a permit, though the delays in the process meant that we lost an opportunity to do the work this past fall when the wetland went dry.  

We will continue to document the restoration process and hope our story inspires others to explore opportunities for using green infrastructure to enhance amphibian habitat in urban areas. 

Registration is now open for the March 10, 2018 Land & Water Conservation Summit.
There will be two excellent workshops on green infrastructure! Come join Rhode Island’s conservation leaders for a day of networking and workshops.
The Green Infrastructure Coalition is a project of the Environment Council of Rhode Island. We are made up of over forty organizations from around the state that work on projects to create nature based solutions for stormwater issues facing Rhode Island. Our projects and programs are geared towards educating the community on what is being done to address polluted runoff and flooding across the state. Our goal is to advocate for and help create new projects by using natural green infrastructure in Rhode Island. 
Greg Gerritt is the Administrator of the Environment Council of Rhode Island. Greg also leads the RI Compost Initiative, for which received a 2012 EPA Region 1 Merit Award, and is the researcher/writer for the blog He is the watershed steward for, and founder of, Friends of the Moshassuck, and helped found the Green Party of the United States and the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island.  He is the founder of the highly successful Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange. Greg is currently focused on making videos of wildlife, cleaning up stormwater management systems  to create amphibian habitat, and furthering the development of the environmental community in Rhode Island.
John Berard is the State Director of Rhode Island Clean Water Action. Clean Water Action is a member of the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition. 
RI-GIC Website