Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has announced that beach season kicks off this month in Rhode Island, with reduced parking fees in effect at state facilities. Again this year, daily beach parking for residents will be $6.00 on weekdays and $7.00 on weekends and holidays. A season pass is $30.00 for residents.

Beginning on Saturday, May 13, Scarborough North and Roger Wheeler State Beaches in Narragansett and Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly will be open on weekends, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All state beaches will be open daily, beginning Saturday, May 27.

“Rhode Island is known for its spectacular stretches of beachfront and beautiful waters,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a press release. “These natural resources are the lifeblood of our state, and they are beloved by residents and visitors alike. The opening of the beach season is always a special time in Rhode Island. Even on a cooler day, I can think of little more relaxing and magical than watching the waves roll in or taking a walk along the water’s edge. Incredible!”

Rhode Island’s network of historic parks, beaches, bikeways and recreational facilities continues to promote quality of life and attract people and businesses to locate in the state. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs each year. A recent study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that State-managed parks and bikeways alone contribute $311 million to the economy and support 3,700 jobs and nine million visits annually.

Last year, Governor Raimondo convened the Rhode Island Outdoor Recreation Council – with membership from state and local government, industry and community – to develop an actionable vision for promoting and growing outdoor recreation in Rhode Island. The Council released its Final Report last December, highlighting the importance of the network to Rhode Island’s economic and cultural vitality and the need for additional investment. In anticipation of this year’s summer season, improvements are underway across several State recreational facilities, including:

– Lincoln Woods State Park – The new “green” beach pavilion, offering fully accessible restrooms and showers and an expanded nature center and concessions, will be open for Memorial Day weekend. In addition to modernizing visitor amenities at the beach, the pavilion will greatly improve energy efficiency and enhance water quality in the lake. Three new buildings, connected by a central plaza, were constructed. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 26 at 10:30 a.m.

– Scarborough North and South State Beach – New restroom and shower facilities at Scarborough North will be open, beginning Memorial Day weekend. And new plantings have been installed in flower beds at Scarborough North and Scarborough South.

– George Washington Memorial Campground – New restroom and shower facilities will be open as of Memorial Day weekend.

– Fisherman’s Memorial Campground – Tennis and basketball courts are being resurfaced. And new tennis nets, hoops and backboards will be installed. The new facilities will be available, beginning May 14.

All weekend openings are weather permitting. Other non-surf state beaches – including Burlingame State Park and Campground in Charlestown, Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area in Glocester, Fort Adams State Park in Newport, and Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick – will be open daily, beginning Saturday, May 27.

Daily beach parking for residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. A season pass is $30 for residents and $60 for non-residents. Passes can be purchased on weekends at Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut State Beaches. From May 27 through September 4, passes are available for purchase at all state beaches. A 50-percent discount on daily parking fees and season passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older.

Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e. license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. By law, a “vehicle” is defined as any street-legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.

DEM continues to accept applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry level and senior lifeguard positions are available at numerous locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving. For more information about available positions, visit www.riparks.com.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).