PROVIDENCE, RI – Although the forecast is predicting unsettled weather with thunderstorms likely this Fourth of July weekend, it's going to be hot. And if Rhode Islanders are planning a day at state beaches, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is urging them to buy their passes online today to avoid getting stuck in annoying traffic tie-ups at beach entrances this weekend. Historically, Independence Day week is the peak of the beach season and depending on the weather, tens of thousands of residents and out-of-state visitors may flock to the eight state surf beaches.
"Our state beaches are such a special part of who we are as Rhode Islanders and I encourage beach lovers to visit their favorite sandy spot in Narragansett, South Kingstown, Charlestown, or Westerly this weekend," said Governor Dan McKee. "At the same time, I ask all beachgoers to be careful, only to swim within the designated swimming areas, and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Let's make this a safe and fun Fourth of July!"
"I grew up two blocks away from Narragansett Bay in the Gaspee Plateau neighborhood of Warwick, so I've been a water guy and a beach guy my whole life but still can't believe how lucky we are to have such an array of beautiful, accessible state beaches," said DEM Director Terry Gray. "We welcome you to hit the beach this holiday weekend and create new, happy memories with your family and friends."
Scarborough North, Scarborough South, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine state beaches in Narragansett, East Matunuck State beach in South Kingstown, Charlestown Breachway and East Beach in Charlestown, and Westerly's Misquamicut State Beach are open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and 8:30 AM to 6 PM on weekends and holidays, weather permitting. Other facilities open daily, weather permitting, including the beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, Pulaski Park, and Fort Adams State Park.
Once purchased, season parking passes do not go into immediate effect. It takes up to 24 hours during the summer months for a buyer's residency status to be verified to charge the correct fee and for the pass to be validated. DEM urges beachgoers to plan ahead and buy their passes earlier in the week if they're going to the beach on the weekend. Individuals may purchase resident, non-resident, or senior season beach passes online, as well as daily flex passes, which allow for one-day parking.
Prepaid customers may use the express lanes at beaches for speedier access. Purchasing season or daily flex passes online also will help DEM keep the express lanes open, as there have been past instances when the express lanes could not be used because too many people were paying for parking at the entry gates rather using pre-paid parking passes. Express lanes are available at all state beaches except for Salty Brine, Charlestown Breachway, and East Beach, which are one-lane facilities. DEM's parking vendor employs license plate recognition (LPR) technology at the express lanes whereby a scan is taken of the rear license plates of prepaid customers confirming that the customer has paid to allow for quick entry. Please allow space for the car at the gate so the reader can scan the license plate. Driving bumper to bumper will cause the system to fault, requiring an attendant to manually enter the plate, and slow the flow of cars. Season passes no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes are now electronically connected to an individual's license plate. DEM wants the public to know that they may see empty parking spots in the state lots, but this does not mean there is empty sand on the beach. This is related to waiting for enough cars to leave to ensure there is room for new vehicles, leaving a buffer so we don't have cars roaming around the lot with nowhere to park. Controlling the inflow of cars is the only way DEM can prevent overcrowding in the beach.
DEM continues to accept applications for seasonal positions including qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Positions are still available at many locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving. Swimming accidents and drownings can occur when lifeguards are present. As always, DEM urges parents and guardians to watch their children while they're swimming or near the water. Also, DEM urges beachgoers not to enter the water if they cannot swim.
Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy:
Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. All DEM properties have a carry-in/carry-out trash policy. This policy has been in effect since 1992. We ask all visitors to come prepared to secure their trash in their own containers and dispose of it properly when they leave. This simple measure helps minimize litter, reduces nuisance wildlife issues, and prevents trash and plastics from entering coastal waters. "The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences," said Director Gray.