DEM: All state parks are back open; 2 beaches set to reopen next week

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As of Monday, all state parks in Rhode Island are back open to the public, according to the Department of Environmental Management.

Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered all state parks and beaches closed back in March as part of her effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The DEM began reopening state parks last week. DEM Director Janet Coit said the staggered reopening allowed them to ensure that all the necessary steps were taken to prevent overcrowding.

Coit said the DEM recognizes the importance of spending time outdoors.

“Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, or fish is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with household members, and reduce stress while practicing physical distancing,” Coit said.

Coit said the DEM may close some of the larger parks at 6 p.m. and encouraged Rhode Islanders to not stay at the parks for long periods of time. She also asks that visitors who arrive at a crowded park opt for another location or to return another day.

All visitors must abide by the state’s social distancing mandates and must have a face covering on them just in case.

The following state parks are now open daily:

  • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown
  • Black Regiment Monument, Portsmouth
  • Brenton Point State Park, Newport
  • Burlingame State Park, Charlestown
  • Colt State Park, Bristol
  • Cocumcussoc Park, North Kingstown
  • Fort Adams State Park, Newport
  • Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown
  • Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick
  • 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
  • Rocky Point State Park, Warwick

Coit said all playgrounds, athletic courts, sporting fields located at state parks will remain closed for the time being. The Goddard Memorial Golf Course will also remain closed.

While all state parks are back open, only two state beaches, East Matunuck and Scarborough, are slated to reopen on Memorial Day. During her daily briefing Monday, Raimondo said parking lots will be open and parking will be free, though the number of parking spots will be limited.

“This is really a very limited reopening of these two beaches so that if you and your family typically have a tradition of going to the beach on Memorial Day, you can still do that,” Raimondo said. “We want people to go outside, get some fresh air … but all the rules will apply.”

Coit said the DEM hopes to have all state beaches open by the end of June.

Raimondo noted that portable toilets will be available in the parking lot, concession stands will be closed, and there will not be a lifeguard since the virus has stalled the DEM”s hiring process.

The DEM is actively recruiting qualified lifeguards and facilities attendants to fill seasonal employment positions at state beaches, parks and campgrounds this summer. Rhode Island residents 16-years and older are encouraged to apply.

Hourly rates for lifeguards range from $13.25 to $16.25 an hour, based on location and position level. All lifeguard candidates must have successfully completed courses and hold valid cards in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR including infant, child, and adult.

Hourly rates for park rangers range from $10.50 to $11.60. Applicants for facilities attendant and park ranger I positions must be 16 years of age or older, and applicants to park ranger positions at levels II and III must be 18 years of age or older.

For a complete list of seasonal employment opportunities and to apply, visit www.riparks.com/employment. Most positions are full-time and include weekend and holiday hours. Applications must be completed online, paper applications will not be accepted.

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