Around the Valley: Campground reservations, COVID restrictions eased

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State campgrounds to open April 9

The Department of Environmental Management has announced that beginning April 9, the following state campgrounds will be open daily: Burlingame State Campground, Charlestown Breachway, Fishermen’s Memorial Campground and George Washington Memorial Campground in Glocester. The campground at East Beach in Charlestown will remain closed this year.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Environmental Management has made several operational changes at Burlingame State Campground in Charlestown for the 2021 season, restricting the main camp to tent-only campsites for those making new reservations. Individuals with current reservations will not be affected by this change in policy.

Also, three cabins along the waterfront of Watchaug Pond have been relocated to ensure that all campers have convenient access to the shoreline in this part of the campground. A few parking spots will be added in this area for the convenience of campers.

The rules on campground visitors and vehicle passes that were implemented previously in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency will remain in place this season. These policies are as follows:

  • Visitors are prohibited.
  • Vehicles passes will be limited to two passes per site.

DEM reminds campers of the current refund policy for the 2021 season. For cancellations, refunds will be issued as follows:

  • Eight days or more before arrival date – full refund less non-refundable reservation fee and an $8.75 cancellation fee.
  • Two to seven days before arrival date – camper will be charged for one night along with the non-refundable reservation fee and an $8.75 cancellation fee
  • Less than two days before arrival date – no refund

Campers may cancel their reservation online by logging into their Reserve America account or by contacting the Reserve America Call Center during their operating hours.

For outdoor recreation updates, visit http://riparks.com/covid19

Restrictions eased

State officials announced this week that with the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing starting today, Friday, Feb. 5, some restrictions will be lifted at Rhode Island’s restaurants and gyms.

Capacity for indoor dining will remain at 50 percent, but up to eight people from two different households can share a table. For outdoor dining, parties can consist of people from up to three households.

At gyms and indoor sports facilities, spacing between people has been reduced from 14 feet to 6 feet, and the capacity limit will go from one person per 150 square feet of space to one person per 125 square feet.

Catered events can have up to 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Offices can also bring back up to 33 percent of their workforce in person.

Dale J. Venturini, president/CEO of the RI Hospitality Association, issued a statement regarding the change.

“The RI Hospitality Association has continued its efforts to safely open our industry and ease current restrictions,” said Venturini. “We are pleased that these baby steps forward regarding easing restrictions on restaurants and catered events are moving ahead. We will continue our focus on eliminating bar-seating restrictions, an integral aspect of helping our industry recover.”

BRVNHC announces new board appointments

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor has announced appointments made to its board of directors following its annual meeting in January.

The Board of Directors elected new officers as follows: Chairman, Richard  Moore; First Vice-Chairman, Dennis Rice; Second Vice-Chairman, Lee Dillard Adams; Treasurer, Yvonne Chita; and Secretary, Todd Helwig. BRVNHC’s immediate past chair is Richard Gregory.

Directors re-elected for a three-year term on BRVNHC’s board include Richard Gregory III, Dennis Rice, and Gary Furtado. Directors on the board include Bill Beitler, Robert Billington, Michael Cassidy, Bob Contursi, Robert Dandrade, Gary Furtado, Pieter de Jong, Jeannie Hebert, David Kellogg, Thomas Kravitz, Harry Whitin and Donna Williams.

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor works with community partners to preserve and promote the Valley’s historic, cultural, natural, and recreational resources for current and future generations. Learn more at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.

DEM seeks feedback on use of conservation lands

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is conducting an online survey to gather input on how the public uses and values state lands. Feedback from the survey will be used to shape the future of nature-based recreation in Rhode Island including fishing, hunting and boating, and management of state owned/operated conservation lands and management areas. Survey data will also help prioritize funding for future conservation efforts and support the growth and management of outdoor recreation.

The survey takes only a few minutes to complete and is available on www.dem.ri.gov/naturesurvey.

The effort is part of a broader project DEM is conducting to assess the Division of Fish & Wildlife and the Division of Forest Environment’s strategic priorities, oversight, and stewardship of state-owned/operated conservation and management areas, including fishing access areas and boat ramps. The project includes lands that are directly managed by DEM’s Divisions of Fish & Wildlife and Forest Environment; state parks and beaches are not included. Visit the list of state-owned/operated conservation and management areas by clicking here.

With more than 60,000 acres of state of land, including 25 state management areas, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, 200 fishing spots, and over 200 public boat ramps in Rhode Island, recreationists of all kinds have plentiful options of places for hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, photographing wildlife, watching birds, or just enjoying the outdoors.

DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for managing thousands of species of wildlife, including freshwater species. Revenue generated from fishing and hunting license and permit sales supports Rhode Island fish and wildlife conservation programs. A critical source of funding, these monies are leveraged to match federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program dollars that support nature-based recreational opportunities for fishing, hunting, and boating in Rhode Island.

A steward of forest-based recreation, DEM’s Division of Forest Environment manages 40,000 acres of state-owned rural forestland including the Arcadia and George Washington Management Areas. The Division also works across the state with property owners along with rural and urban communities on a wide range of forestry topics including forest health, forest fire prevention, community tree planting, and private forest land management to maximize the positive benefits forests bring to all Rhode Islanders.

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