Conservation Commission


The Conservation Commission meets regularly on the first Tuesday of each month.  Meetings are generally held:
  • 5:30 p.m. 
  • Second Floor Conference Room, 9 Court Street, Bristol, RI 02809

Agendas & Minutes

Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
View Most Recent Agendas and Minutes


“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” – Greek proverb

The mission of the Conservation Commission is to promote and develop the natural resources and protect and preserve natural areas within the Town of Bristol including its watersheds, streams, wooded areas, coastal areas, wetlands, and green spaces.
 The Commission acts in an administrative or advisory capacity on environmentally sensitive project proposals, donations of private lands, green space plantings and a variety of environmental issues.



Members of the Conservation Commission serve at the pleasure of the Town Council and are appointed for a term of three years.

Current Members of the Commission:
Tony Morettini, Chair
Ray Payson, Vice-Chair
Jay Maciel, Secretary
Lindsay Green
Glenn Donovan
Craig Fisher
Lee Ann Freitas

Tree Planting / Tree City USA

The Town of Bristol, under the direction of the Conservation Commission, has been designated as a Tree City USA for the past 16 years!  The “Tree City USA” program is a national program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America. Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day. See the
Arbor Day Foundation for more information.  

The Town of Bristol Tree Ordinance, which regulates the protection, maintenance and planting of trees on public property, has authorized members of the Conservation Commission to act as the Tree Commission.  The Town of Bristol Tree Ordinance can be found in
Chapter 25, Article II of the Bristol Town Code of Ordinances.

The Conservation Commission and Department of Community Development oversee Bristol’s tree planting program.  The Town typically plants between 30 and 40 trees annually along Bristol’s roadways and within public parks and other properties.   The Conservation Commission invites the residents of Bristol to identify locations in public space and formally request a new tree to be planted in that designated location.  The tree species are selected by Conservation Commission members from a list of approved street tree species.  Members of the Commission will inspect and evaluate the locations designated in these requests for suitability of the location and tree species.  Typically species are selected which will provide a canopy of shade trees over public right of way.  Residents may request a public street tree planting by completing
this form on the web site or by printing and submitting this form to the Department of Community Development.    

The Conservation Commission also invites the residents of Bristol to identify locations on their private property, within 20 feet of an adjacent street, and that enhance the streetscape. Residents may formally request a new tree to be planted in that designated location for a fee of $100 .  The tree species can be requested from the list of approved private property tree species.  These species include both shade trees and some ornamental trees.  Members of the Commission will inspect and evaluate the locations designated in these requests for suitability of the location and tree species. Residents may request a  tree planting for their private property by printing and submitting
this form to the Department of Community Development.  

 Bristol Tree Guide - A
Self-Guided Walking Tour Of The Bristol, R.I. Historic District.

Frequently Asked Questions: Trees

How do I know which trees are public town-owned trees?

Town trees are typically located within the street right-of-way, in town parks, and on other town-owned properties.  If you are not sure whether or not a tree that needs attention is a Town tree, please contact the Town Administrator’s office. 

Whom should I contact if a town tree needs trimming?

Please contact the Town Administrator’s Office to report a Town tree in need of trimming.  Leave your name, phone number and location of the town tree.  The tree will be scheduled for inspection by the Tree Warden, and if the required work is confirmed it will be scheduled for trimming.  If the tree is on private property, the homeowner is responsible for tree maintenance. 

Whom should I contact if a Town tree looks unsafe or unhealthy?

Please contact the Town Administrator’s Office to report a tree that appears to be a hazard to people or property or is unhealthy.  Leave your name, phone number and location of the town tree and indicate the emergency nature of your request.  The Town Administrator’s office will contact the Tree Warden who will prioritize your request and the tree will be scheduled for inspection and remediation as required.  If, however, the tree is on private property, the homeowner is responsible for tree maintenance.

Whom should I contact about limbs down off of town trees?

The town is responsible for fallen branches from town trees on town property only.  The town will not retrieve fallen branches on private property. Please contact the Department of Public Works to report a Town tree with downed branches.  Leave your name, phone number and location of the town tree.  The work will be scheduled.

Will the Town remove a tree at the request of a resident?

The Town will promptly inspect requests for tree removal.  However, the Town does not remove trees without good reason.  A Town tree will not be removed because it drops leaves or acorns, because it has grown too large or shades your lawn, or because it is not conveniently located.  We will remove town trees that are hazardous.  A hazardous tree poses a threat to persons and/or property and meets the following three criteria:
1.  The tree is sufficiently large enough to cause damage should it fall;
2.  The tree has a target (that would be damaged should it fall);
3.  The tree has a condition that would make it likely to fall.

In some cases, a tree may be developing a condition that would ultimately make it a hazard, but not imminently.  In some cases, the entire tree may not be hazardous, but some maintenance work is required.  After an inspection by the Tree Warden, and it is determined that immediate or future action should be taken, a work order will be issued and scheduled based upon priority.  

How do I get a town tree stump removed?

Please contact the Town Administrator’s office to report a tree stump which needs to be removed.  Leave your name, phone number and location of the Town tree stump.  The work will be scheduled.

How do I care for a newly planted tree?
Helpful information is available from the
Arbor Day Foundation.  

Open Space

The Bristol Conservation Commission assists the Department of Community Development and the Department of Parks and Recreation to advise on open space preservation and acquisition efforts, act as a resource for other agencies with open space concerns, and advise the Planning Board on open space elements of the Comprehensive Plan.  Bristol’s Comprehensive Plan places a strong emphasis on the preservation of open space and sensitive natural areas.  The Comprehensive Plan recognizes the value of natural open spaces to the character and cultural heritage of the Town.  Though the Town of Bristol — along with several private conservation organizations — has succeeded in preserving many critical open space parcels in recent years, the Comprehensive Plan acknowledges the need to prioritize open space and recreation needs and to advise Town leaders on preservation and acquisition decisions.  

As Bristol’s population continues to increase, protected open space land will be needed to provide the public with additional opportunities for both active and passive recreation.  The Comprehensive Plan also recognizes the need to protect ecologically sensitive areas, direct development away from flood prone areas, and provide greenbelts of open space as relief from development.  The protection of open space enhances and protects a community’s character and leads indirectly to an increase in property values over time.  

Importantly, found within the Comprehensive Plan is the imperative to provide open space and recreation programs and facilities to serve the full range of present and future residents’ needs; include policies that (a) ensure access to the waterfront and bays that surround the town; and (b) increase and/or improve land areas reserved for recreation, conservation, and open space.  Sustainable plans for recreation, conservation, and open space can be achieved by using a coordinated approach to include multiple uses of single sites, and diverse forms of ownership, management, and financing mechanisms to ensure benefits for future generations. The Conservation Commission is designated to assist in the continued acquisition of additional acreage to help fulfill these objectives and to identify parcels which would contribute to these goals.

The Conservation Commission plays an active role in managing Town-owned open space parcels and implementing the goals and recommendations of the Town’s
Open Space Plan.  The Commission reviews requests from the public for the Town to acquire open space and ranks each request according to criteria found within the Open Space Plan.  


The Conservation Commission has actively promoted public access to our shoreline and waterways, and assisted with the development of several “Blueways” maps depicting popular routes for kayak and small boat recreation around Bristol.  These maps can be found at
Explore Bristol


The Conservation Commission actively promoted public access to our open space and recreation areas, including Town-owned parks and natural areas.  The Conservation Commission has spent numerous hours and worked with several volunteer organizations (including the Boy Scouts, Roger Williams University, and employees of National Grid) to open recreational trails through the Perry Farm Conservation Area.  This natural area, located in the north-central part of Bristol, contains nearly 100 acres of woodlands and trails that are open to the public.  This Town-owned property is most easily accessed from Jameson Drive or from Elmwood Drive where the Public Works Department recently completed construction of a pedestrian foot bridge to provide access.  

Perry Farm Sign at Jameson
Entrance to Perry Farm open space from Jameson Drive.
Entrance to open space from Elmwood Drive foot bridge

On December 21, 2016, the Conservation Commission unveiled a sign at the newly acquired “Tavares Farm East” property located off Metacom Avenue at Kane’s Way.  This 14 acre property, combined with other Town-owned land in the Perry-Tavares Farm open space, creates an eastern trail head access to this 100+ acre tract of undeveloped public open space.  Since acquiring the property this past spring, the Conservation Commission, with the help of numerous community volunteers, has been busy clearing walking trails and improving a small parking lot to enhance public access to the area.  The new sign will improve public awareness and access to this property and provide enhanced opportunity for outdoor passive recreation in our community.  Find a printable trail map here.
Bristol Conservation Commission Unveils New Open Space Sign
Perry/Tavares Farm Trail Map
Information on paths and outdoor recreational opportunities throughout Rhode Island can be found at the following link:  Explore Rhode Island's Blueways and Greenways

Plastic Bag Ordinance

Recognizing that single-use plastic bags negatively impact our community by creating litter, polluting the marine environment, and endangering wildlife, the Town Council adopted a Plastic Bag Ordinance in February 2018. 

This ordinance is a step towards making a difference with a larger plastic waste problem and sends a strong message about what Bristol values.  Please help reduce our plastic footprint and keep Bristol beautiful. Here are some helpful tips:

TIPS for Bristol Shoppers 

  • Keep reusable bags in your car.
  • Tuck a small, collapsible bag into a cup holder or your purse for quick shopping trips. Pretty soon, bringing your own reusable bags into stores will become second nature!
  • Reusable bags are widely available at select retail stores, grocery markets, and nonprofit organizations – and they’re very inexpensive, if not free.  Don’t overlook the bags you already have in your home, such as tote bags made of canvas. 

TIPS for Bristol Businesses 

  • Please review the full plastic bag ordinance available here on the Town of Bristol website at this link.
  • Explore promotional opportunities of the new policy through reusable bag giveaways (consider adding your name and/or logo) with certain qualifying purchases. Some businesses in town are already doing this. 
  • Consider offering a small discount or other incentive to customers who remember to bring their reusable bags.  This will save your business the cost of a bag, and encourage use of reusables.
  • Bristolians can be proud to be joining a growing number of cities and towns in Rhode Island who have enacted similar ordinances, increasing environmental awareness and stewardship, and helping to preserve the beauty of our town.