PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that improvements to freshwater boat ramps at Watchaug Pond in Charlestown and Indian Lake in South Kingstown are complete. Construction on the projects began on April 16 with work wrapping up in time for Father's Day weekend – a popular time for fishing and boating.
The new boat ramps will provide boaters and anglers with improved access to two of Rhode Island's most popular boating and fishing areas. The existing ramps at both sites were replaced by new concrete boat ramps, measuring 12 feet in width. As an added amenity, DEM also installed a new, six-foot by 20-foot timber floating dock at each site.
A third boat ramp improvement project, at Echo Lake in Glocester, is planned for the fall. The existing ramp will be replaced with a boat ramp identical to those installed at Watchaug Pond and Indian Lake, along with a new timber floating dock.
Recreational boating and fishing are ingrained in the culture of the Ocean State. They also are important economic drivers: 54,000 boats use Rhode Island waters each year, including more than 40,000 registered in Rhode Island. As part of a larger network of recreational opportunities in the state, fishing plays an important role in connecting people with nature, promoting health, and attracting tourism. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are approximately 175,000 recreational anglers (age 16+) in Rhode Island. And recreational fishing contributes more than $130 million to the economy each year.
The freshwater boat ramp improvements were designed by DEM Planning and Development and The Nature Conservancy staff. The contractor for the three projects is Beausoleil Bros. Inc. of Cranston.
Funding for these improvements is being provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration program. The total cost of construction for the three projects is $420,000. The Sport Fish Restoration Program is a user-pay, user-benefit program that is derived from taxes on motorboat fuel, fishing equipment and the purchase of some boats. The Watchaug Pond, Indian Lake, and Echo Lake boat ramp projects are excellent examples of how those taxes are used for public benefit to improve and increase boating access to the waters of the state. A portion of the national funding is dedicated to Rhode Island DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife, specifically for boating access.
For a list of public boat launching sites in Rhode Island, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM for more information on boating in Rhode Island as well as other timely updates.