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PIC-WIL is a 17 acre Nature Preserve located on the east shore of the Providence River in Barrington, Rhode Island. The land was donated to the Nature Conservancy by Catherine Picerelli in December of 1986, and was subsequently deeded to the Barrington Land Conservation Trust (BLCT) in November of 1987. A formal dedication for the preserve was held on November 11, 1987. The donation was made in memory of the families of Peter J. Picerelli and Clifford M. Wilson; thus the name “PIC-WIL.” The land is protected by well defined restrictions on its use and may be visited by contacting the Barrington Land Trust. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island functions as the enforcing agency for the restrictions.
The principal habitat types within the preserve are deciduous forest, cultivated fields, salt marsh and coastal dune. A zone of tall shrubs borders the forest edge, and in some areas widens into a dense thicket. The distribution of habitats and features within and surrounding the preserve is presented on the map on the center page.
Deciduous Forest – Forested land covers 34 % (5.8 acres) of the preserve. It occurs chiefly in one large stand in the south-central portion of the area, though narrow strips are present along the north, east and west boundaries. The forest is dominated by Black Oak (Quercus velutina); sub-dominant tree species include White Oak (Quercus alba), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Whita Ash (Fraxinus americana), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), and American Elm (Ulmus americana). Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Gray-stemmed Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) and other shrubs dominate the forest understory. Shrubs and trees of the forest border and associated shrub thickets include: Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), briars (Smilax spp.), Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), Arrowwood (Viburnum recognitum) honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) and Seaside Rose (Rosa rugosa). Nesting birds of the forest and its shrub border include Song Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Blue Jay, Flicker, Cardinal, Goldfinch, Robin, Red-eyed Vireo, Mockingbird, Catbird, Brown Thrasher and others.
Salt Marsh – Tidal Marsh occupies 19% (3.3 acres) of PIC-WIL. The dominant salt marsh communities include grass-dominated “high marsh” (that part of the marsh above the level of mean high water) and patches of the shrubby plant, High-tide Bush (Ivafrutescens); tidal creeks and poois are also present. All three of the common high marsh plants are present: Salt Marsh Hay (Beach grasses), Spike Grass (Distichlis spicata) and the rush, Black “Grass” (Juncus gerardi). Iva occurs as islands within the high marsh; it grows on sites that are of higher elevation or that are better drained than the surrounding marsh. A narrow band of the tall Salt Marsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) grows on the banks of the tidal creeks within the intertidal zone (the zone flooded by tides daily); this community is referred to as the “low marsh”. Other plants of the salt marsh include Glasswort (Salicornia europea) and Sea Lavender (Limonium carolinaeum). Common birds of the marsh and tidal creeks include Mallards, American Black Ducks, Snowy and Great Egrets, Green-backed Herons, Great Blue Herons, and Osprey. Sharp-tailed Sparrows, Belted Kingfishers and various shorebirds are other likely visitors of the wetland.
Coastal Dune/Sandy Shore (10.9% cover; 1.9 acres) – The salt marsh at PIC-WIL has grown behind the protection of a barrier spit comprised of unvegetated sandy shoreline and, adjacent to that strip, vegetated sand dune. The dune is gently sloping and is dominated by typical dune plants of the northeast including Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) and Beach Rose. Other dune plants include Beach Plum (Prunus maritima) and Beach Pea (Latheris japonica); Salt Marsh Hay, a grass more typical of the salt marsh, grows in abundance on the sandy soil of the dune’s marshward slope. Song Sparrows nest in the dunes, while shorebirds, gulls, Brant and other waterfowl forage on the sandy shoreline.
PIC-WIL is a biological complex providing habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals, and in addition, scenic and scientific values. Already, three plants given “special interest” status by the state of Rhode Island have been identified on the preserve; they are: Creeping Spikerush (Eleocharis rostellata), Maritime Seablite (Suaeda maritima) and Robust Bulrush (Scirpus robustus).