PROVIDENCE -The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is hosting a series of events throughout February school vacation week to encourage families to get outdoors and explore Rhode Island. Opportunities include guided hikes, seal and birdwatching, and a visit to a trout hatchery. The program is part of the State's broader efforts to promote outdoor recreation and healthier lifestyles among Rhode Islanders.
"Rhode Island abounds with beautiful parks, forest and shore-side trails, scenic bikeways, and so many other incredible places to explore and observe a diversity of wildlife," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "These experiences are available for free, year round. We also offer special opportunities throughout the year for families to get outside and join us for a fun adventure at our state parks, campgrounds, and other recreational areas. And we're thrilled to offer this exciting lineup for school vacation week. I encourage all to come out and learn about the fascinating natural world all around them. What fun!"
Scheduled events include:
Tuesday, February 21: 12:30 p.m.: George Washington Management Area, 2185 Putnam Pike, Glocester DEM's Divisions of Forest Environment and Law Enforcement will host a guided hike in this 4,000-acre management area. Participants will learn about wildlife, trees, and conservation practices. The guided hike will depart from George Washington Management Area headquarters office building. Space is limited to 30 registered children and their families. To register, send the name and ages of participants to Bruce Payton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants are encouraged to bring a t-shirt that can be used for wildlife footprint stamping.
Tuesday, February 21: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.: Lafayette Fish Hatchery, 424 Hatchery Road, North Kingstown DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife will host an open house with continuous tours of the trout hatchery – one of three facilities where DEM raises fish until they are stocked in state waters. There will be arts & crafts, and participants will learn about the life stages of trout, fly-casting and fly-tying, and fish-feeding.
Wednesday, February 22: 10:00 a.m.: Arcadia Management Area, Hopkinton/Richmond/Exeter DEM's Division of Forest Environment will host a guided hike in the 14,000-acre Arcadia Management Area, which is the state's largest recreation area for hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, mountain biking and horseback riding. Participants will learn about forests, hiking and trail etiquette, warm water fisheries, wildlife, and how to identify trees in winter. The guided hike will depart from the parking area at Browning Mill Pond off Arcadia Road.
Thursday, February 23: 1:00 p.m.: John H. Chafee Nature Preserve at Rome Point, North Kingstown DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation will host a walk at the 230-acre nature preserve which is home to a variety of wildlife, beachfront, and hiking trails. Participants will learn about the different plant and tree species within the preserve and view the seals hauled out on the rocks just offshore. Warm clothing, sturdy shoes, and binoculars/cameras are recommended. The guided walk will depart from the parking area on Boston Neck Road. Participants are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early. Rain date is Friday, February 24.
Saturday, February 25: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Beavertail State Park, Jamestown DEM's Division of Fish & Wildlife will host a birding workshop on sea duck identification. Participants will learn to identify the various species of sea ducks that call Narragansett Bay home during the winter. Binoculars and field guides are suggested; participants may also download the Merlin app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology prior to the workshop. Registration is recommended. Participants should assemble in the parking area to the right of the main drive just before the lighthouse.
Rhode Island is well known for its outstanding network of historic parks, beaches, bikeways, and other recreational areas, including more than 400 miles of hiking trails. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 local jobs. Last year, Governor Gina Raimondo tasked the Rhode Island Outdoor Recreation Council with advancing an actionable vision for growing and managing the state's recreational system and promoting public health. In its Final Report, the Council cited the wealth of recreational opportunities available and the need to better support and promote them. For more information on outdoor recreation in Rhode Island, visit www.riparks.com.
Rhode Island's small game hunting season is now open. All users of state management areas, and all hunters statewide, are reminded to wear at least 200 square inches of solid daylight-fluorescent orange material through the end of the season, February 28. The fluorescent orange has to be worn above the waist and must be visible from all directions.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.