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DEM Positions Echo Lake Property for Future by Removing Docks from Lake Shoreline

PROVIDENCE, RI The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will start work on removing docks at the former Echo Lake Campground in Burrillville next week, weather permitting, the agency announced today. DEM acquired the 235-acre property, located on the west side of Echo Lake, in January 2021 for $2 million using financing from open space bond funds. The project entails permanently removing 44 dock structures along more than 2,000 feet of shoreline and is expected to be completed by early-February 2023.

DEM purchased the property to benefit the public and has begun developing a master plan to evaluate site conditions, consider habitat values, and conceptualize its best future use. If the future development plan for the site includes public water access, DEM will design a public dock or boat ramp meeting all codes and guidelines. Since there is no need for the dozens of existing docks that were installed by prior users of the campground, DEM is removing them.

"At this property and in this project, DEM is aiming to provide superior recreation opportunities for public enjoyment while stewarding natural resources, in this case protecting the water quality of Echo Lake and its wetland ecosystems," said DEM Director Terry Gray. "Our agency's purchase of this tract was made possible by the generosity of spirit of Helen Moroney, who owned the former campground, and by financing made possible by green bonds. Voting yes on Question No. 3, the 2022 green bond, will ensure that Rhode Islanders will have clean water to drink and clean water in ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams long into the future."

Until DEM finalizes its master plan and completes any needed updates to the property, only passive use of this property will be allowed and all rules and regulations for DEM properties will apply. Since the acquisition, DEM staff have frequently visited the property to maintain it, especially monitoring the docks, some of which had fallen into disrepair. Any debris, whether from these formerly used docks or vegetative debris, is regularly monitored and removed to protect swimmers and other water users. After an open solicitation process and securing required permits, the state awarded the contract to Norfolk, MA-based MAS Building and Bridge.

In accordance with the required permits, construction and demolition will take place during the typical "low water" period, between November and March. DEM is cooperating with the Pascoag Reservoir Dam Management District (PRDMD) on the project's timing. PRDMD conducts the drawdown of the reservoir, and DEM's work plan is tied to the drawdown schedule.

The contractor will access the docks via the former boat ramp toward the south end of the property and demolish the structures by working on the exposed lake bottom. Debris will be stockpiled safely away from the water while work is taking place, then properly disposed offsite. Project questions can be directed to DEM.Projects@dem.ri.gov.

Properties of this size are increasingly rare in Rhode Island. Preserving this land adds to the existing 15,100-acre corridor of conserved forestland in the northwest corner of the state that filters air and water, providing innumerable benefits to wildlife as well as recreational opportunities. Rhode Island's wealth of historic parks, bikeways, and green spaces provide for public enjoyment along with improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state's climate resilience, and supporting the economy. Since 1985, over 10,000 acres of land have been protected.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 11-04-2022

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