Buckeye Brook Watershed
Buckeye Brook starts at the Spring Green Pond near the intersection of Airport Road and Warwick Avenue. From there it runs west and then south, crossing Airport Road and draining into Warwick Pond. For most of its three-mile journey, the little brook is hidden beneath a canopy of scruffy red maples and stunted pine trees, hemmed in on both sides by fenced-off backyards, paved roads, pizza places, drugstores, and parking lots.
The brook is one of the few remaining undammed fish runs on the Bay-alewives and blueback herring migrate from the sea into Warwick Lake to spawn, unaided by fish ladders. The brook's fresh and saltwater wetlands play a vital role as natural pollution filters for Narragansett Bay, and serve as spawning grounds for many Bay inhabitants.
Each year, thousands of alewives and blueback herring make their way from the ocean into the brook and eventually Warwick Pond where they spawn. In autumn, the newly-hatched fish swim downstream to Narragansett Bay. These species are an important component of the Bay's ecosystem and the local fishing industry as bait fish for larger sport fish. The US Fish and Wildlife Service have designated herring as a "federal trust fish" because of its economic and natural resource values. The Brook is listed as a Clean Water Act §303(d) impaired water body. CLF and the Buckeye Brook Coalition, a local advocacy group, are advocating for greater protection of the Brook. T.F. Green is RI's largest airport. During normal operations, the Airport generates many pollutants. During wet weather, these pollutants combine with stormwater runoff, which is ultimately discharged into a wetland and tributary of Buckeye Brook. These discharges seriously threaten the health of the brook.
CLF's persistent advocacy has forced the state to issue one of the most advanced and stringent pollution discharge permits for an airport in the nation at T.F. Green. While this groundbreaking victory is a significant step toward preserving Buckeye Brook, CLF remains committed to ensuring the rules are strictly enforced.
Water quality in the Buckeye Brook is monitored by volunteers through the URI Watershed Watch program. Monitoring occurs from May through early October at four sites within the watershed.
Organizations & Links
Buckeye Brook Coalition
The Buckeye Brook Coalition (BBC) was established in August 2002, and recognized by the Rivers Council as the official Buckeye Brook Watershed Council in 2004. The BBC is a membership organization governed by elected officers and supported by volunteers. It consists of 129 contacts, including 29 paid memberships and 100 "friends" who are contacted either by email or telephone.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management has identified stormwater from T.F. Green Airport as the major source of pollution to Buckeye Brook. In 2003 and 2004, the BBC, supported by the nonprofit organizations Conservation Law Foundation and Save the Bay, advocated for a stringent stormwater permit for the airport, which was eventually issued by the state. The airport appealed the permit, delaying protection of Buckeye Brook until the dispute is resolved.