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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: May 26, 2011
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

DEM'S PARKS AND BEACHES READY FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
New Beach Parking Fees to Take Effect on July 1; Season Passes Must Be Purchased at Beaches

PROVIDENCE - Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer outdoor recreation season, and Rhode Island's state parks and beaches are ready for the crowds. Although some of the parks and beaches managed by the Department of Environmental Management have been open on a limited basis this month to accommodate early beach-goers and advance season pass sales, the Memorial Day weekend is when DEM recreational areas go into high gear.

Scarborough North, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Roger Wheeler, Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, and Misquamicut state beaches will be open daily, weather permitting, beginning this Saturday, May 28. Scarborough South and the beaches at the Burlingame picnic area and campground in Charlestown will be open weekends-only until June 11, and daily thereafter until Labor Day. The beaches at Goddard Memorial State Park and Lincoln Woods State Park will be open on a daily basis, weather permitting, beginning this Saturday.

Limited public parking will be available daily at East Matunuck State Beach due to a major construction project at the facility. Approximately 350 spaces in the western portion of the beach parking lot will be available each day. The parking area located in front of the existing bathhouse will be closed for the summer while the building is being demolished and construction of the new facility takes place. East Matunuck State Beach will remain open this summer and will be staffed with lifeguards and a park ranger. Restroom facilities will be provided via port-a-johns, but patrons will not have access to changing facilities, showers, or food services. DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation is advising that beach patrons use the remaining nine state saltwater beaches or four freshwater beaches located within state parks during the construction period, due to the limited availability of parking and amenities.

New Beach Parking Fees Take Effect on July 1

Regulations increasing the fees charged for daily parking and season passes at state beaches will be filed with the Secretary of State to take effect on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. DEM will continue to charge the 2010 rates for daily parking and season passes through June 30, in an effort to give the public adequate notice about the new fee structure.

Season passes are no longer being sold at the Division of Parks and Recreation headquarters in Johnston. Beginning Saturday, May 28, season passes will be sold only at state beach locations that require a parking fee. The Department provided an opportunity for the public to purchase season passes at the Johnston headquarters this year as a courtesy; passes will not be sold at this location in the future due to lack of staffing and public safety concerns related to traffic congestion on Hartford Pike.

Rhode Island state beach fees were last raised in 2002. The increases will enable DEM to maintain current services at the state's seven saltwater beaches in South County at a time when the state is facing severe budget constraints. The rates are comparable to fees charged by similar private and municipal facilities and Connecticut state beaches.

Effective July 1, daily beach parking fees for residents will increase from $6 to $10 on weekdays and from $7 to $14 on weekends and holidays. Non-resident beach parking fees will increase from $12 to $24 on weekdays and from $14 to $28 on weekends and holidays. Season passes will increase from $30 to $60 for residents and $60 to $120 for non-residents. Seniors age 65 and older receive half-price rates, and, as always, freshwater beaches at state parks remain free of charge for all.

Parking fees are based solely upon the registration (i.e., license plate) of each car entering the beach facilities. All RI-registered vehicles will be subject to resident rates for parking (daily and seasonal); all other vehicles without Rhode Island plates will be subject to the non-resident rates (daily and seasonal). The regulations define vehicle as any street legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over the road travel.

The Department is asking for the participation of all beach-goers in the voluntary program to help keep our beaches smoke-free, clean, healthy, and safe. Cigarettes are the number one source of litter on beaches. They can also sicken children and wildlife that may ingest butts left in the sand, thinking they are food. And a still-smoldering butt can cause a burn, if stepped on with bare feet.

DEM maintains a "carry-in carry-out" policy at all state parks and beaches, which is made simple for visitors through the availability of small "Keep RI Clean" trash bags that are handed out at entrance booths at most facilities; in day-use parks without entrance booths, the bags are available at rest rooms, dispenser boxes, and offices. Staff hand out 300,000 to 400,000 bags each year through this program.

Visitors are also reminded that for reasons of public health, no animals are allowed on any state bathing beach between April 1 and September 30. This includes after-hours.

DEM is still accepting applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry level and senior lifeguard positions are available. Lifeguard positions all require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving. Information about DEM and all lifeguard and seasonal positions, as well as a downloadable application form, is available online at DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov. Applications should be filled out completely. Applicants can also visit or call DEM's Office of Human Resources at 235 Promenade Street, Room 350, Providence, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or call 222-2775, ext. 4602.

Using equipment purchased for DEM by the Governor's Commission on Disabilities, DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation will continue to issue photo identification passes for people who are eligible under certain disability rules for free parking at state beaches. Fees will be waived for any vehicle in which a driver or passenger shows the photo ID. The photo identification pass will also allow disabled patrons to have the greens fee waived when playing golf at Goddard Memorial State Park, although they will be charged for equipment rentals, if any.

Anyone receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is eligible, as is anyone receiving Veterans Benefits who is 100 percent disabled through a service-connected disability. Eligible individuals under age 65 must apply for a pass on an annual basis, while those 65 and over are eligible for a lifetime pass. Specific documentation is necessary to receive the ID.

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