Prudence Island

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State Land Spotlight

Prudence Island Management Area

By Tanner Steeves, Wildlife Biologist, RIDEM

Rhode Island DEM’s Management Areas provide hunting and fishing opportunities to the public, and protect wildlife habitat and exemplary natural communities. Prudence Island is the third largest island in Narragansett Bay, and is home to a significant amount of protected conservation land including the Prudence Island Management Area. In 2015, the 93-acre Eugene Chase Farm was purchased from the Little family and added to Prudence Island Management Area using funding from: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), State of Rhode Island Open-Space bond monies, the Town of Portsmouth, Prudence Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and The Champlin Foundation. Part of the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR), Prudence Island Management Area now totals 2,223 acres and comprises more than 60% of the island.

A variety of habitats occur within Prudence Island Management Area including tidal salt marsh, rocky shoreline, coastal shrubland and oak forest. The Eugene Chase Farm acquisition is particularly important given the relatively large patch of pitch pine barren which can support several beetles and moths of conservation need. Management efforts throughout the island include invasive plant management, saltmarsh adaptation projects, and prescribed fire aimed at sustaining coastal shrubland and pitch pine communities.
Prudence Island is accessible via ferry out of downtown Bristol, or by private boat. Prudence Island Management Area can be accessed by many trailheads throughout the island marked along the network of public roads. The NBNERR Learning Center is located at the south end on Roberta Avenue, and offers educational opportunities and visitor information. Prudence Island Management Area is open to archery deer hunting and located within Deer Management Zone 3. Given the relatively high white-tailed deer density on the island, providing deer hunting opportunities to the public is an important management strategy the Division of Fish and Wildlife uses to help protect the ecological integrity of these natural areas and alleviate negative human-related outcomes. Upland game hunting is permitted within North Prudence; and waterfowl hunting is permitted along the coastline no greater than 10 ft above mean high water. Take a trip out and enjoy Prudence Island Management Area!