April 6, 2007

Whitehouse, in Charlestown, Speaks Out for Conservation

Visits to Kettle Pond Visitor Center and YMCA Camp Watchaug Underline Senator's Commitment to Environmental Protection

Providence, R.I. – Emphasizing the importance of preserving Rhode Island’s wilderness spaces, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) visited the Kettle Pond Visitor Center and YMCA Camp Watchaug this week to learn more about the sites and discuss ways to help them grow.

“Our open spaces and our wilderness spaces are under more pressure than almost anywhere,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. “It merits, and will take, a significant effort to try to acquire as much property and as many conservation rights as we can.”

Kettle Pond Visitor Center, part of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, opened in fall 2005. The center is managed by Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island, a nonprofit association devoted to the conservation and development of land and wildlife habitats at the state’s five refuges. Other sites include Trustom Pond in South Kingstown, the only undeveloped coastal pond in the state; Sachuest Point in Middletown, home to the largest winter population of harlequin ducks on the Atlantic coast; the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge at Pettaquamscutt Cove in Narragansett; and the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.

30-acre YMCA Camp Watchaug opened in 1948 on the shore of Watchaug Pond and serves over a thousand campers each year. Whitehouse met with YMCA officials and local volunteers to discuss the camp’s master plan, which envisions a series of major improvements to the facility to help it better meet the needs of the children it serves.

A proven and passionate fighter to protect our environment, as Rhode Island Attorney General Whitehouse argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to protect public wetlands from development, and sued to block Bush administration efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act. As the state’s federal prosecutor, he led the investigation into a devastating oil spill in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, and made sure the fine – the largest in the state’s history – was used for conservation. In 2003, Save the Bay gave Whitehouse its Environmental Advocacy Award.


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