Land Use

State to Purchase, Preserve Boy Scouts’ Land in Burrillville


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management plans to use the 900-acre Burrillville parcel for recreation. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

BURRILLVILLE, R.I. — The state Department of Environmental Management will acquire more than 900 acres of land in town from the local Boy Scouts of America chapter for $1.61 million, according to a purchase and sale agreement approved by the State Properties Committee.

The parcel on Buck Hill Road sits between the George Washington and Buck Hill Management areas and conservation land in Connecticut.

“Once acquired, it will result in a total contiguous protected area of over 7,000 acres,” DEM’s chief public affairs officer Michael Healey wrote in a statement to ecoRI News.

The land will be incorporated into the Buck Hill Management Area and managed by DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for recreational purposes.

“For Scouts, the outdoors is an essential part of our heritage and we were careful, thoughtful stewards of this land in Burrillville for decades,” Tim McCandless, Scout executive and CEO of the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement to ecoRI News. “That’s why we are very pleased to be able to transfer the ownership and care of this open space to the public, so that everyone can continue to enjoy it for years to come.”

About $1.2 million of the purchasing price was paid for by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program, with the remaining money coming from a Rhode Island open space bond, according to Healey.

The purchase and sale agreement shows the assessed value of the land is $3,498,100.

Before the state stepped in to buy the property, some local residents and environmentalists expressed concerns about its future following a class-action lawsuit directed at and bankruptcy filing from the national Boy Scouts organization, ecoRI News previously reported.

The Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America — which includes troops in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts — had previously planned to sell about 200 acres to Getaway, a “glamping” — glamourous camping — company, which had proposed building 65 cabins on the property. But those plans fell through earlier this year after the company withdrew its proposal, citing concerns about financial viability.

This is not the first time the state has purchased land from the Boy Scouts. DEM, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, bought 189 acres of land in Burrillville, also near the Buck Hill and George Washington Management areas, from the Boy Scouts of America Narragansett Council in 2012.

“The property consists of high-quality forested upland, mostly oak and maple, and an important cedar swamp,” Healey wrote about the 900 acres, adding that it “presents a unique opportunity to significantly increase the acreage of protected forestland in R.I.”

Paul Roselli, president of the Burrillville Land Trust, had called the land particularly valuable from an environmental perspective, and had sought a conservation easement when the Getaway plan was being discussed “so the property is never, ‘never’ with a big ‘N’, Never broken up into house lots and developed into single-family residences. Never,” he said at the time.


Join the Discussion

View Comments

Recent Comments

  1. It is terrible that this property is going to be incorporated into the Buck Hill Management Area which DEM has been clearcutting in. While I am glad the property won’t be developed, I don’t want to see its pristine native forests being destroyed by DEM. A management area is basically just a large woodlot. There is nothing natural about it. It is not comforting that the property will be managed by DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife which has been heavily involved in clearcutting the state’s native forests which in many cases are not even growing back. The fact that it was partially funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Restoration Program is also alarming since the “restoration” they often do is usually clearcuts for unnatural gaming species while destroying the habitats for natural native species in the process. If the property is for recreation, it should be left in its current state. Most people prefer walking in mature forests than clearcuts full of tick filled briers. This property should be designated as a Natural Area Preserve as defined in the Natural Areas Protection Act of 1993 so its natural forests can be permanently protected from logging. Under DEM, this property is not protected, it is a clearcut wasteland in waiting.

  2. Gratifying news!. Especially for those whose tireless work fighting the Invenergy power plant over four years brought this forest to the attention of thousands of outdoor loving Rhode Islanders who had only the vaguest notion of this area. This acquisition is the final keystone piece that combines six state forests in three states into a contiguous north-south corridor of publicly owned forest of over 27 square miles in extent, generally along the axis of the North-South and Mid-state trails.

    Bravo to everybody who defended this area and did their part to make this happen.

  3. Win for Rhode Islanders! Best use of the land, indeed. Keep large tracts of land unfragmented. Thanks for publishing this story, great news!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your support keeps our reporters on the environmental beat.

Reader support is at the core of our nonprofit news model. Together, we can keep the environment in the headlines.


We use cookies to improve your experience and deliver personalized content. View Cookie Settings