The Napatree Point Conservation Area: Past, Present & Future

Illustrated talk by Peter V. August and Grant G. Simmons III, The Watch Hill Conservancy

Hosted by HLFM director Pierce Rafferty

This recorded illustrated talk was presented August 7, 2022 to review the scientific monitoring taking place now to guide future stewardship and management programs. The transformation of Napatree Point post-Hurricane of ’38 from barren sand to one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in southern New England is a dramatic story of ecosystem resilience. Care of Napatree Point took a fortunate turn in the 1990s when two unlikely partners, Chaplin B. Barnes and Grant G. Simmons III, recognized its unique ecological value and importance as a public resource and helped establish the Napatree Point Conservation Area.

Stewardship of the 86-acre preserve is an ever-changing challenge. The barrier spit is heavily used in the summertime by beachgoers and boaters anchored off its northern (bayside) shore. Keeping Napatree from “being loved to death” is no small feat, as is protecting its many rare and endangered habitats and species. The future of the Conservation Area is presenting brand new stewardship challenges on Napatree – climate change-induced nuisance tides, sea level rise, dune migration in heavy storms, and others. August and Simmons reviews the scientific monitoring they are doing at present to guide their future stewardship and management programs with the goal of keeping Napatree the pristine barrier spit that it is and ensuring that the public has safe and reliable access to this special place.

Peter August. Photo Credit Noelle Wolcin

Dr. Peter August is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Natural Resources Science at the University of Rhode Island. He has chaired the Napatree Science Advisors for 12 years and is President of The Watch Hill Conservancy.

Grant Simmons. Photo Credit The Watch Hill Conservancy

Mr. Grant Simmons has been instrumental in the establishment of Napatree as a public resource where data-driven science directs stewardship and management activities. Mr. Simmons has coordinated weekly water-quality monitoring off the bayside and ocean-side shores of Napatree for the past 15 years. He is Vice President of The Watch Hill Conservancy.