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DEM: Parks Open, Crowds Out

[CREDIT: DEM] Hikers at Lincoln Woods State Park.

[CREDIT: DEM] Hikers at Lincoln Woods State Park.
[CREDIT: DEM] Hikers at Lincoln Woods State Park.
PROVIDENCE — Fifteen state parks open today with the raising of Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s stay-home order and Rhode Island’s Phase 1 relaxed COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, with the Department of Environmental Management reminding people to keep their distance from others.

Raimondo, following the guidance of the RI Department of Health, has set a limit of no more than five people in a group to continue to restrict the spread of COVID-19 as more people begin to move through the state, which also applies to the opened parks.

“Many diverse and varied outdoor spaces will be open for Rhode Islanders to safely enjoy while adhering to the Governor’s guidance on not gathering in groups and practicing social distancing, said DEM Director Janet Coit. “This year, as we’re dealing with the public health emergency, we’re also asking park visitors to take additional steps to protect themselves, their families, and the people around them so everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors.”

DEM is reopening state parks in a graduated manner and is staggering park openings, reducing the size of parking areas and restricting hours of operation and activities to prevent crowds.  DEM hopes to reopen all parks by the end of May.  A second phase of the reopening plan will include the saltwater beaches, which will open later this spring with new restrictions in place.

The following State Parks are now open daily:

  • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown*
  • Black Regiment Monument, Portsmouth
  • Burlingame State Park, Charlestown*
  • Cocumcussoc Park, North Kingstown
  • Fort Adams State Park, Newport*
  • Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown*
  • Haines Memorial State Park, East Providence
  • John H. Chafee Nature Preserve, North Kingstown
  • J.L. Curran State Park, Cranston
  • Lehigh High Grove, Portsmouth
  • Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln*
  • Meshanticut State Park, Cranston
  • Pulaski State Park, Glocester*
  • Purgatory Chasm, Middletown
  • Snake Den State Park, Johnston

*Parking capacity has been reduced to limit the number of visitors at the park to limit crowding and support social distancing.

Large parks, namely Fort Adams and Lincoln Woods,  will close at 6 p.m.

DEM: distance guidelines in effect:

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, visiting parks should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity. Keep recreation activities to walking, hiking, biking and others that can be done in small groups. Park visitors must follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.  If you arrive at a favorite park and find that crowds are forming or the parking lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas.

While enjoying outdoor spaces, people must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread COVID-19: 

  • If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
  • For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you and wear it in public areas and if you are within 6 ft. of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions from these rules are for anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering, or any children under 2 years old.
  • Avoid close contact with others outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
  • Bring and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
  • Maintain distance from others while in parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.

  • Park visitors should keep to recreation activities such as walking, hiking, biking.

  • Avoid picnicking, cookouts, gatherings, or games and activities that require contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.

  • Bring a suitable trash bag and leave no trash behind in order to protect park workers and avoid litter.

  • Public restrooms in parks are closed. Porta-johns may be available in some areas. Visitors are encouraged to carry hand sanitizer and plan a short, local visit that’s close to home.

Additional park operation notes:

  • DEM has closed most indoor spaces including visitor centers, nature centers, and historic houses.

  • State campgrounds, including all campsites, cabins and pavilions/shelters are closed and will not open earlier than June 1st. All visitors with reservations through May 31 will be issued a full refund. DEM has suspended all new camping reservations through June 30, 2020.

  • All State Park playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields are closed to ensure public safety and stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • The Goddard Memorial Golf Course remains closed. All public programming and events have been canceled until further notice.

  • Rhode Island state beaches and swimming areas at state parks remain closed to swimming until further notice. DEM asks the public not to drive to state beaches and closed state parks with shoreline access. The entrances are blocked, there is no public parking, and these facilities are closed to vehicular traffic. DEM is not prohibiting Rhode Islanders from walking to parks and beaches if they are congregated in groups of five or less and are adhering to social/physical distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. DEM will be patrolling these sites and dispersing groups of people.
Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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