PROVIDENCE – Given the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is pausing walk-in service at the offices with the most frequent lines and crowds. DEM encourages its customers to use online, telephonic, or mail-in services whenever possible. Across the Department, DEM remains fully operational and committed to serving customer needs.
The pause in walk-in service adjusts the following interactions with DEM: submitting permit applications, taking a blue card test, obtaining whelk pot and tautog tags, and purchasing fishing and hunting licenses and registering boats.
DEM's outdoor spaces remain open to the public, and DEM encourages people to enjoy them while adhering to the Governor's guidance on not gathering in groups and practicing social distancing. All indoor parks and management area spaces are closed. For more information on parks and management areas, call: DEM Parks Headquarters at 401-667-6200, Fish and Wildlife Headquarters at 401-789-0281, and Forestry Headquarters at 401-539-2356.
"These are challenging times, and Rhode Islanders appreciate the opportunity for fresh air and a walk in the park," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "DEM parks and open spaces are open for visitors, and people should be practicing social distancing both on and off our properties."
Submitting Permit Applications
The Permit Application Center (PAC) at DEM Headquarters located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence is still accepting and processing applications and honoring all scheduled in-person appointments, but walk-in service is paused at the PAC until further notice. Applications can be dropped off directly outside the PAC, and the team will respond within one to two business days.
Contact DEM at 401-222-4700 ext. 7265 with questions or to set up an appointment for other services. If you are seeking assistance for wetlands or OWTS/septic systems, please call 401-222-4700 and ask for the person on-call for the specific program.
Taking a Blue Card Test
Blue card tests are not currently available at the PAC or at the Division of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters at the Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston, but the tests are still available at other locations. Blue cards are presented to firearm dealers to certify that the applicant has successfully passed the State's requisite safety exam. For a list of testing locations visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pdf/blue-card-testing-locations.pdf.
Obtaining Whelk Pot and Tautog Tags
Commercial fishermen are advised that beginning yesterday and until further notice, whelk pot and tautog tags will not be available for pickup at DEM's Divisions of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Resources offices. Because some fishermen have not received their tags yet, and the rules requiring these tags begin on April 1st, DEM will delay the commercial tagging requirements for whelk pot and tautog tags until May 1, 2020. The rules to date have required tags be on all commercial pots deployed beginning April 1, 2020 and all tautog commercial harvested and sold beginning April 1, 2020; these specific requirements are postponed until May 1, 2020.
DEM's Marine Fisheries Division is developing a plan to issue the tags via mail. Further guidance will be sent to stakeholders via a listserv message. To sign up for the fisheries listserv, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/marine-fisheries/ and click the link on the right side of the page; or send an email to Peter.Duhamel@dem.ri.gov and request to be added; or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the words "subscribe rimarinefisheries" in the body of the email.
All reporting requirements and other marine fisheries regulations remain in effect. DEM's Marine Fisheries and Coastal Resources staff are currently serving all customer needs by phone, mail, and email. For questions, contact the Division of Marine Fisheries at 401-423-1923 or DEM.MarineFisheries@dem.ri.gov and the Division of Coastal Resources at 401-783-5551.
Purchasing Parking Placards for the Galilee State Parking Lot G
Walk-in service at DEM's Coastal Resources office in Galilee has been paused and applications for seasonal parking placards for Galilee State Parking Lot G are available online at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/coastal/pdf/seasonal-parkg.pdf Please follow the instructions on the application for submittal. We will process your application and mail the completed placard back to the address listed on your application.
Purchasing Fishing and Hunting Licenses and Registering Boats
DEM is encouraging anglers, boaters and hunters to purchase their 2020 fishing and hunting license and renew their boat registration through DEM's Licensing and Registration portal. This online service provides customers with streamlined, on-demand access to the licensing and registration process from the comfort of home – eliminating the need for an in-person visit to DEM offices. All walk-in service at the Office of Boat Registration and Licensing is paused until further notice.
Boaters are encouraged to renew their registration through the online portal. Upon completion of the online renewal, boat owners will be able to print a temporary registration that allows the vessel to be used during the two-week period while the registration is being processed and the decal mailed.
New vessels can be registered by mail by filling out a registration application, outboard motor registration application and title application. Required registration documents are located on this information sheet. Boaters may also deposit their applications in the drop-off boxes outside the Boat Registration and Licensing office at DEM Headquarters at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.
For more information, call the Boat Registration and Licensing office at 401-222-6647.
DEM encourages everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island's response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
For 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.