Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council Unveils Renovated Leo Bouchard Conservation Center With Community Celebration

Facility will serve as education hub and community resource for conservation and enrichment

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) officially unveiled the newly renovated Leo Bouchard Conservation Center at a community celebration and ribbon cutting this afternoon. 

The WRWC worked in partnership with the Town of Smithfield and the Smithfield Conservation Commission to obtain permission to share the Leo Bouchard Conservation Center. The WRWC will utilize the facility to provide educational programming to students throughout the Woonasquatucket River Watershed. 

“This innovative facility will bring environmental education and interactive learning to Northern Rhode Island and beyond. The collaborative project brought together the public and private sectors in the interest of bolstering climate resiliency and community awareness,” said Alicia Lehrer, WRWC Executive Director. “It is my hope that our success can serve as a model for future partnerships.”

Today’s event included a brief speaking program and ribbon cutting ceremony with community leaders and state legislators including Senator David Tikoian (District 22), and administrators from the Town of Smithfield. 

“I am so excited to unveil this incredible resource to the community,” said Randy Rossi, Smithfield Town Manager. “This center will support a robust environmental curriculum already implemented in all Smithfield elementary schools. It’s imperative that families learn about our watershed and its impacts on the entire state.”

The funding for the Leo Bouchard Conservation Center was provided through the WRWC. In addition, the Annenberg Foundation and the James M. Cox Foundation generously donated $125,000 for amenities such as indoor and outdoor classroom-style seating, a kayak and canoe rack, and hands-on educational exhibits.

The Center is located at 5 Waterview Drive in Smithfield, on the Stillwater Reservoir. In addition to serving as a key location for the WRWC’s environmental education programs in the northern part of the Watershed, the location is a wonderful destination for hiking on Wolf Hill, canoe and kayak trips, bird watching, and more.

“Through our educational programming both in schools and at the new Center, students will develop an appreciation for and understanding of nature, and hopefully develop into future environmental stewards,” said Amanda Peavey, WRWC Education Director. “They learn about local environmental issues and understand that what they do can affect the natural resources that surround them.”

This project is just the latest WRWC investment bringing conservation, education, recreation, and climate resiliency to Smithfield. Currently, WRWC has secured more than $2.5 million in federal and state funding for flood resilience, stormwater mitigation, and greenway development. 

About the the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works to create positive environmental, social and economic change by revitalizing the Woonasquatucket River, its Greenway, and its communities. WRWC offers year-round opportunities for the community to engage with the river and the watershed through paddle trips, bike tours, environmental education, festivals, and restoration projects