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Governor Chafee, RI DEM Celebrate State's Acquisition of Rhode Island's Highest Point

Foster, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit joined state, local and Brown University officials, as well as members of the Highpointers Club this morning celebrated the state's acquisition of Jerimoth (Jer-I-moth) Hill, Rhode Island's highest point at 812 feet. The 5.58-acre parcel of land on Route 101 in Foster was acquired by DEM from Brown University.

In 2008, the State purchased the abutting Mosley property, which provides the legal access to Jerimoth Hill. Obtaining legal public access to the high point and liability concerns over the public use of the Brown University property has been a constant concern for the State, Brown University and for hikers. DEM has been working on this project for more than five years, and the acquisition of the Brown University site provides final resolution to these issues.

"I am pleased to see the culmination of an effort I started as a U.S. Senator. I wanted to ensure that Rhode Islanders and the 'highpointers' will have access and be able to enjoy our state's highest elevation," Governor Chafee said. "I commend Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management for working hard to secure the deed to Jerimoth Hill. With this deed, Rhode Island gains another great natural asset."

"Jerimoth Hill is the highest natural point in our state, and thanks to the efforts of Governor Chafee, it now belongs to the people of Rhode Island," DEM Director Janet Coit said. "As Rhode Island's U.S. Senator and Governor, Governor Chafee took an active role in ensuring that our state's highest point became a natural open space to be enjoyed by Rhode Islanders and visitors. Without his efforts, we would not be standing here today."

Jerimoth Hill is immediately open to the public, and DEM will be making improvements at the site to provide for increased public access. The abutting Mosley property will be developed to provide for a permanent entrance to Jerimoth Hill, signage, and a small parking area for the site.

Dave Targan, PhD, Associate Dean of the College for Science, Brown University and Director of the Ladd Observatory said, "We look forward to continued collaboration with state and local officials so that this area can be preserved for anybody wishing to experience the splendor of the night sky, unimpeded by light pollution. The astronomy staff and faculty of Brown's Department of Physics are committed to helping visitors to this site take advantage of the dark skies that this site has to offer, for viewing comets, meteor showers, or other objects that are invisible from the city. This is an exciting moment for Rhode Islanders and for both the amateur and professional communities of the state."

As part of the agreement, the State will allow Brown University to continue to utilize a 2,000 square foot portion of the property for astronomical study for a 50-year period. An additional non-exclusive easement area will be retained by the University as a "No Obstruction Zone" to prevent obstructions for night sky observations.

The purchase price for the parcel was $100,000, with $80,000 in funding provided from the RI Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Enhancement Program (SAFETEA-21). The remaining $20,000 comes from the State's Open Space Bond program.

Stony Burk, Highpointers Club state liaison and Highpointers Foundation board member and projects director said, "I've been to Jerimoth Hill 49 times since May 1992 including the open access days we had in the early and mid-2000s as a club representative. We used those open access days to talk to visitors about the history of Rhode Island's highpoint, the importance of preserving good relations with public and private landowners of all the state highpoints, and our club's goal of reaching the 50 state highpoints. Thanks to everyone's collaborative effort to ensure public access to Rhode Island's highpoint, our club can use this example to promote further developments at other privately held state highpoints."

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