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RI Division of Statewide Planning
235 Promenade Street, Suite 230
Providence, RI 02908

RI WRB Policy


BRMA Land Use Plan

The Big River Management Area (BRMA) consists of approximately 8600 acres of open space. It is the largest, publicly owned, land parcel in Rhode Island. Its borders extend through portions of the towns of West Greenwich, East Greenwich, Coventry, and Exeter. Largely undeveloped, the land was originally condemned for water supply purposes. Some two hundred, single-family dwellings were once located there. Today the Board maintains leases on 39 residential properties, 3 commercial properties as well as the state-owned portion of Maple Root Corporation, a mobile home park. A survey of the BRMA to legally define and monument the boundary is nearly complete.

Today, the land is managed as Open Space, yet the BRMA’s intended use remains water supply oriented. The property is largely managed according to recommendations put forth in a 1996 land use study. The report established guidelines for uses that would not impact future water supply including wildlife management, sustainable forestry, historic preservation, environmental education, and passive recreation. This year, Brown University developed a baseline inventory of the natural communities in the BRMA, the first phase of developing a management plan for the area.

The Water Resources Board maintains a solid relationship with nearby communities and residents living in the area by providing a broad range of educational and recreational opportunities. A multi-year, habitat restoration project on twenty acres is ongoing with help from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and a local farmer. Elementary school students have taken field trips to learn first-hand about the biology in the BRMA. The agency continues to take an active role in the planning, zoning and administrative decisions of the towns as they pertain to the BRMA.

Map of Big River Management Area

Big River Management Area Policies (PDF)

Big River Management Area Land Use Study (PDF)

Big River Management Area Forestry Report (PDF)

Field Characterization and Numerical Simulation of Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions in Rhode Island Wetlands: Big River Watershed Case Study

Big River Management Area Wells Project


Big River Management Area Annual Volunteer Clean Up

In the spring of each year, the West Greenwich Conservation Commission, with the support of numerous other local and state volunteer organizations, coordinates a volunteer clean up of the Big River Management Area with the Water Resources Board.

To be notified of the next clean-up, please contact us.

The Volunteers Get Organized

Removing a junk car from the woods

Removing dumped tires

Discussing how to remove the junk Jeep

Pulling the junk Jeep out of the woods