In 2015 I began to ponder if deepening the rainwater pool would make it more likely to hold water for a complete toad breeding cycle while still allowing it to go dry often enough to keep out the bullfrogs and fish. In 2015 and 2016 Bullfrogs from the neighboring pond dispersed to the rainwater pool during the summer, though in both cases after most of the toadlets had dispersed. In each case the bullfrogs disappeared when the pond went dry several weeks later, so they were not in the pool when toad mating began the next spring.
Early in 2016 I convened some Rhode Island experts on toads, stormwater, and related topics for a day at Providence College to ponder how we might use the new interest in Nature Based Solutions for stormwater to benefit amphibians. We all agreed that it was possible and that there were probably a few places in RI in which doing so might be useful. We also discussed some of the obstacles we might find in the wetland and stormwater regulations. I continued to study the rainwater pool with eyes open wider each day as the evidence of transformation and the need for restoration became more apparent.
In 2017 I decided it was time to act. The first thing to do was secure buy in from the City of Providence Parks Department, since the North Burial Ground is a city owned and managed cemetery. The City agreed to partner with me, and have been excellent partners in all of the expanding community work in the North Burial Ground. At the suggestion of a Green Infrastructure Coalition colleague who worked for RIDEM, I asked for a meeting with the DEM Wetland Restoration Team. I was not quite sure what to expect from the Wetland Restoration Team, but I approached the project this way:
The Parks Department and I were both of the mind that the restoration i proposed could be considered routine maintenance, that a rainwater system that was silting in and had excessive vegetation needs regular maintenance. We strongly suggested this to the Wetland Restoration Team. I also prepared a series of pictures and some fairly detailed explanations of the changes I observed in the pool and what I thought that meant. The WRT seemed a bit at sea. They could not quite remove their regulator hats when faced with something out of the ordinary. Here is what I prepared for the WRT (16)