EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — Horse riders are fighting to keep an equestrian camping area all to themselves.
For more than five decades, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has allowed exclusive equine use of the LeGrand Reynolds Horsemen’s Camping Area.
The 52-acre space, located within the Arcadia Management Area, boasts a riding ring and miles-worth of trails.
But the DEM is now mulling whether to open the space up to the public for camping, hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.
Riders, including Cecily Westervelt of the Rhode Island Federation of Horse Clubs, are worried the unique space will disappear.
“I think that the reason for this exclusive use is important, because there are many places to camp in Rhode Island,” she explained. “There are many DEM sites that are already available to people who want to use them for recreation …. people who bike, hike or simply want to be at a campsite for their families. Those will not go away.”
Horse riders told the DEM that, if keeping the space exclusive is a financial issue, they would be willing to pay fees higher than $3 to stay overnight.
“For myself, I’d be willing to pay a yearly pass for state parks like we do in Massachusetts to utilize a facility like that,” Rehoboth resident Patricia Pike said. “I’d like to see its continued use exclusive for horses, because it would be a shame to lose such a great experience for people.”
In a statement, DEM spokesperson Mike Healey said the state’s intent is “not to expand this area for new recreational uses, but to simplify the regulations.”