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6/6/2024 House OKs Edwards bill to prohibit development at Sapowet Marsh Management Area
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton), the Majority Floor Manager of the House of Representatives, that would protect the Sapowet Marsh Management Area in Tiverton.

The bill (2024-H 7060A) would prohibit any commercial development at Sapowet Cove, and authorize the Department of Environmental Management to allow and promote passive outdoor recreation at the management area and to enter into leases for the agricultural use of any portion of the land.

The Sapowet Marsh Management Area was originally created in 1948 under a grant from the Truman Administration to the Rhode Island Department of Natural Resources and has since grown to almost 300 acres.

“The original reason the area was purchased was to preserve this critical marsh area to keep it free of commercial and residential development, and to allow continued public access for hunting, fishing, shellfishing and general recreation for future generations,” said Representative Edwards. “Now, 76 years later, the area consisting of Sapowet Cove is being considered as an oyster farm location. Sapowet Cove is an integral part of what makes Sapowet Marsh Management Area unique in the Sakonnet River area; people can wade, swim, shellfish, kayak, sailboard and kiteboard in this beautiful, untouched cove.”

The Coastal Resources Management Council has drawn out the oyster farm’s application process for four years with no definitive answer or resolution.

Under the legislation, Sapowet Cove, an area of water that runs from Sapowet Point easterly to the bridge and then southerly, perpendicular to Sapowet Avenue, would not at any time be commercially developed or in any way modified from its current undeveloped state. The water at the mouth of the marsh, for a distance of 2,000 feet from the bridge to Sapowet Point, would not be used for any purpose other than passive outdoor recreation.

The bill defines passive outdoor recreation as “the use of land and water for the restorations, conservation, and management of fish and wildlife and their habitats and wildlife-associated recreation such as hunting and fishing.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2024-S 2415) has been introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903