PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is inviting residents to #WalkOff2020 and celebrate the New Year by getting outdoors with their immediate household members during the holiday weekend. Starting New Year's Day, people are encouraged to visit any of our beautiful state parks with their household members -- physically distanced from other groups and masked up -- during regular park hours to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America's State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. Last year nearly 85,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 176,366 miles throughout the country on the hikes.
This year, instead of having a scheduled guided hike at a single location, DEM is encouraging people to visit state parks across Rhode Island to prevent crowding. If you arrive at a favorite park location and find that crowds are forming or the parking lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. A limited number of commemorative pins engraved with "Fort Adams State Park" will be available for self-pick-up at designated locations within the specified state parks, while supplies last. Prior to the Covid-19 public health crisis, DEM planned to host the annual Day Hike at this popular waterfront park. The list of RI state park locations is located at www.riparks.com.
The following state park locations will offer commemorative 2020 first-day hike pin pick-ups:
- Burlingame Campground, Charlestown
- Colt State Park, Bristol
- Fort Adams State Park, Newport
- Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick
- John H. Chafee Nature Preserve, North Kingstown
- Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln
Outdoor Safety There are many ways for residents to safely enjoy the outdoors, as long as they take the necessary precautions by adhering to the Governor's guidance on not gathering in groups and practicing social distancing. For details on safety guidelines, visit https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
DEM advises 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/
DEM urges the public to be respectful of the environment and our natural spaces by properly disposing of masks, gloves, and cleaning wipes. Help stop the spread of germs and protect our environment by disposing of these items properly. DEM reminds Rhode Islanders that all DEM properties have a Carry In/ Carry Out policy, and that visitors are responsible for their own trash.
With Rhode Island's small game and deer hunting season open, DEM reminds all users of state management areas, and all hunters statewide, that they must wear at least 500 square inches of solid daylight-fluorescent orange material through the end of the season, February 28. The fluorescent orange must be worn above the waist and must be visible from all directions. Visit www.dem.ri.gov/orange for more information about orange safety clothing requirements and for an interactive map of locations that allow hunting.
When in the outdoors, especially in low temperatures, dress in layers and wear a warm hat and gloves. Hypothermia is caused by exposure to cold weather, wind, rain, or submersion in cold water. It can set in when the body core temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit and is marked by shivering, dizziness, trouble speaking, lack of coordination, confusion, faster heartbeat, and shallow breathing. It is important to look for these symptoms in children and the elderly who may not be focused on this hazard. If hypothermia is suspected, call for help immediately; move the victim to a warm environment, remove wet clothing, and cover the individual with warm layers of clothing or blankets.
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.