Each Spring, along with the return of ospreys and Florida license plates, comes the disappearance of public access signs. Surely it pays to do your homework before you double click the alarm and push through bayberries and bull briers to launch your new kayak. When properly maintained, legal points of access to the shoreline are marked by a sign stating such. Often though, they seem to get vandalized or just up and leave as days get longer and parking near the water becomes impossible.
Back in 2014, a guide to legal access points was compiled by RI Sea Grant which remains accurate. “Public Access to the Rhode Island Coast” can be found at Sea Grant’s website and is a handy guide. The Coastal Resources Management Council has done a wonderful job identifying and promoting public access points. You can go to their website to view the ArcGIS map.
Generally, if there are no No Parking signs, it’s okay to park there with common sense prevailing. If you are at a place where you believe you have a right to fish, swim or launch a boat but there’s no signage, you should contact your town or send me an email. I see lots of signs torn down or defaced. Most often, neighbors who feel their water view should not include you or your canoe will allow vegetation to grow unchecked, making good use of Spring rains and warm days to obscure access signs. It’s classic passive aggressive obstructionism. Summer is next on the calendar so knowing your rights is key as we gear up for another wonderful season.
To honor Earth Day, Middletown’s Saltwater Edge fishing shop sponsored a Shore Clean Up Contest. Any fishing groups involved with picking up trash that day could upload pictures to the shop and win one of three shop gift certificates. Trash is a problem that causes us to lose rights. There’s no charm in smashed Schaeffer cans or used up plastic bait bags drooling pogie oil where some cottager walks little Fifi. Losing access is as easy as a town meeting; Middletown’s Peckham Avenue Right of Way is a prime example of how disregarding neighbors and the basic tenants of being a responsible fisherman leads to a loss of access.
April 29 is the RI Environmental Police Officers Association’s Pig Roast and Sporting Clays Shoot. This will be a big day at the Peace Dale Shooting Preserve and you can enter as a single shooter, a junior or as a team.
The main goal of this shoot is to raise awareness of the International Wildlife Gamestoppers group. IWG works to stop poaching and in their own words is, “a non-profit membership organization created by wildlife resource officers dedicated to reducing the illegal taking of the world’s fish and wildlife resources through the global exchange of information with anti-poaching organizations.” The short story is that our enforcement officers very much want to have another tool to protect our state’s wildlife but of course, with our government focused on building oil pipelines, blessing the dumping of poisonous coal mining spoils into streams and the sanctioning shooting bears sleeping in winter dens or while nursing their cubs, there are insufficient funds to initiate such a defensive program here in the Ocean State.
Our DEM officers can’t be everywhere. They are resource and manpower limited so participating in an organization like IWG is a best option. The big door prize at this shoot is getting closer to membership, which will give sportsmen a place to report poaching, stealing, illegal killing and the wasting of the wildlife we love.
Much like the stocking debate, there might be mumbles and mixed feelings about environmental police officers but from this desk, it’s crystal clear they’re working their damndest to protect what we all share and keep those who take more accountable to the rest. The shoot starts at 9 a.m. at 130 Pearl’s Way, South Kingstown and you can register with Officer Mike Schipritt at firstname.lastname@example.org.