The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging children, families, and individuals to get outdoors and enjoy the recreational resources that state parks and management areas offer – while adhering to all public health guidelines. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing are among the many outdoor activities that people can experience at state parks and recreation areas across Rhode Island.
“Our state parks and conservation areas are some of the best places to engage in winter sports, get fit, and have fun,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “I hope Rhode Islanders will visit Pulaski Park in Glocester or Lincoln Woods to trek through the snow on cross-country skis or snowshoes. These activities are terrific opportunities for families to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and participate in healthy activities. We just ask that people spread out and mask up!”
Hiking a trail at Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston
To protect public health during the COVID-19 public health emergency and particularly during Rhode Island’s current pause period, which lasts through Sunday, December 20, outdoor recreation activities should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity. The public is reminded to wear a face covering, follow social distancing practices, maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, and only recreate with people who you live with. If you arrive at an outdoor place 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. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
The ski trails at Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area are open daily from 8 AM to 3:30 PM, weather permitting. Trail maps are available on-site. Cross-country skiers must bring their own skis and equipment, as rentals are not provided at the management area. Parking is available for 200 vehicles, and heated restroom facilities are available while the recreation area is open for skiing. Skiers may call DEM’s 24-hour recorded telephone line at 401-568-2085 for up-to-date information about trail conditions at Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area.
Along with cross-country ski trails, Pulaski includes several hilly areas where the public may enjoy sledding, hiking, and snowshoeing. However, these activities, as well as animals, are not permitted on the ski trails. While Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area is the only state facility offering groomed and tracked ski trails, Colt, Goddard, and Lincoln Woods State Parks offer open areas where patrons can enjoy snow-related recreational activities such as hiking, sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
George Washington Management Area in Glocester provides designated trails for those operating snowmobiles. Snowmobiling also is permitted on the roadways in Arcadia, Burlingame, Wickaboxet, and Woody Hill Management Areas, Burlingame State Park and Campground, Lincoln Woods State Park, and on open fields at Colt State Park. All snowmobiles must be registered by DEM’s Office of Licensing and Registration, located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence. For registration information, call 401-222-3576 or visit the office’s webpage for a RV/snowmobile registration application. Be sure to review park and management area rules and regulations for restrictions and timing for snowmobiling at state parks.
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.
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.
Winter trout stocking started last week with several thousand brook and rainbow trout stocked in waterways across Rhode Island. For updates on winter stocking locations, follow DEM’s outdoor education page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rioutdooreducation, or call 401-789-0281. DEM does not monitor ice conditions in local communities. Anglers and others should contact their local recreation or fire departments about safe ice conditions on ponds before ice fishing, skating, or other ice- related activities in individual communities. DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation provides information about Lincoln Woods State Park in Lincoln, Meshanticut State Park in Cranston, and Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick on its 24-hour Ice Information telephone line, 401-667-6222.
There is currently no safe ice at any state parks. Ice must have a uniform thickness of at least six inches before it may be considered safe by DEM. It generally takes at least five to seven consecutive days of temperatures in the low 20s and is determined by several factors such as the size and depth of a pond, presence of springs or currents, and local temperature fluctuations. View DEM’s ice safety guide online at www.riparks.com/IceSafe for safety tips, information on ice strength, and guidance on what to do if a person were to fall through the ice. The first safety tip: never assume the ice is safe. Among the others: never skate alone or on an untested lake or pond; never use the ice for a shortcut; and never go out onto the ice after an animal or a toy.
Follow DEM on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM, on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), and Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.