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Green Hill Pond
Claire Hodson Looks Below the Surface
Claire Hodson is an intern with the Salt Ponds Coalition and in charge of an environmental awareness campaign for Green Hill Pond. Claire and I met at the Green Hill boat launch on Ram Island Road in Charlestown under a shady spot under the pavilion. Here are highlights from our conversation:
Claire grew up in West Hartford, CT and is a summer resident on Ninigret Pond. In May she graduated from Boston College with degrees in sociology and environmental studies. Claire reached out to Salt Ponds Coalition [SPC] President Arthur Ganz and Executive Director Alicia Eichinger to ask if there were any summer internship opportunities over the holidays.
The timing of my call was great, because the SPC was actively looking for new ideas for building community awareness around the poor water quality conditions of Green Hill Pond. There are many beautiful salt ponds in South County Rhode Island, but Green Hill Pond is often overlooked. Speaking with Alicia and Art, I suggested that I combine my training in environmental science with my skills as a videographer to produce a video about Green Hill Pond. My vision is to inspire people to get involved and show them how to make a difference.
Some background insights: Claire, an accomplished ski racer, suffered a concussion which took her away from the sport she loved. Creating a silver lining all her own, Claire was determined to participate in a sport she loved however she could. So, she purchased a GoPro, honed her videography skills, and began filming ski race events.
Green Hill Pond Conditions
Green Hill Pond is a thickly developed residential salt pond that suffers greatly from the fact that it has no direct connection to ocean waters. The pond’s only access to tidal waters is through a slim breachway [Creek Bridge] to Ninigret Pond. Mother nature’s design here results in minimal tidal flushing. As a result, pollution problems in Green Hill Pond are magnified. The salinity of Green Hill Pond is also lower compared to other salt ponds. These factors and more contribute to Green Hill Pond’s elevated bacteria levels, which has resulted in the pond being closed for fishing and swimming for more than 2 decades.
Claire reflects on the pond today,
When you look at Green Hill Pond, it’s elegant and dazzling on the surface. But when you study what’s below the surface like I have, you see what bad shape it’s in. My video shows that it’s not too late to restore this beautiful salt pond to a swimmable coastal destination. But I remind my audience that it will require action from all of us.
When I’m kayaking on Green Hill Pond, I look at the homes pondside and hillside with impressive views of Green Hill’s salt pond. I want to reach these homeowners with the message that we need their passion and involvement to restore Green Hill Pond!
Green Hill Pond Video
Claire has completed detailed primary research for her video project, to include interviews with salt pond experts and attending neighborhood association meetings throughout summer 2015 to measure the pulse on the community’s level of motivation to save Green Hill Pond. She’s also studied the water testing process and landscape designs of homes on Green Hill Pond’s shores.
I’ve made the Green Hill Pond video, sponsored by the Salt Ponds Coaltion, to capture the attention of residents on and around the pond. I want them to be encouraged to take action. Sure, big costly fixes are needed, and together we will achieve that over time. But, we’ll never get there if we don’t show the elected officials of South Kingstown, RI that we care and are committed to making Green Hill Pond a safe and healthy place for future generations.
If you’re wondering what you can do, here’s my message: Choose to be a good neighbor to Green Hill Pond! It’s simpler than you think:
- Eliminate run off from your property to include septic discharge and dog dung.
- Minimize or preferably eliminate your use of lawn and garden fertilizers.
- Discourage invasive geese with shore side gardens and simple landscape plans (Rosa Rugosa for example) that absorb runoff and hide predators geese avoid.
Here is a poster, sponsored by SPC, that delivers a message even children understand: