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Beaches open early: 2 Rhode Island beaches open for the weekends, starting today

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Photo: Scarborough Beach, RI DEM provided photo

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that Scarborough North and Roger Wheeler state beaches in Narragansett will be open Saturdays and Sundays only, weather permitting, from Saturday, May 11 until Memorial Day to accommodate early beachgoers. DEM will have sufficient lifeguard staffing in place, and bathrooms and amenities will be open on weekends at both locations starting May 11. 

State beaches will officially be open daily from Saturday, May 27 – the traditional start of the summer outdoor recreation season – until Labor Day.  “Rhode Island’s spectacular state beaches are part of what makes living in the Ocean State so special, and I encourage beachgoers to enjoy beautiful Scarborough North and Roger Wheeler this weekend,” said Governor Dan McKee. “At the same time, I remind beachgoers that keeping our natural spaces clean is everyone’s responsibility. This weekend and throughout beach season, let’s protect our natural heritage by helping keep Rhody litter free.” “We welcome everyone to enjoy swimming, relaxing, and gathering with friends and family at beautiful, accessible Scarborough North and Roger Wheeler state beaches this weekend,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “The more beachgoers who buy their parking passes ahead of time, the faster we’ll all be able get on our beautiful beaches during the busy summer ahead.” 

2024 state beach season parking passes are available for the 2024 beach season. Individuals may purchase beach passes online. Visit www.beachparkingri.com to purchase your state beach parking season pass. For a step-by-step guide on purchasing your state beach parking pass online, click here. Resident passes are $30, non-resident passes are $60, resident senior passes are $15, and non-resident senior passes are $30. Discounted senior citizen state beach parking passes are available to individuals who are 65 or older. An eligible senior must be present in the vehicle and may be required to present identification as proof of age. If a senior is not present in the vehicle, the car will be required to pay the day-use parking fee.

Season passes are non-refundable. Purchase the correct pass based on your residency and/or age. No-cost disability beach parking passes are available for those who are eligible. Please contact RI State Parks Headquarters at 401-667-6200 for questions on how to obtain a disability beach parking pass. 

Along with the online option, state beach season parking passes may be purchased in person at the Scarborough South State Beach overflow lot on the weekends of May 11/12 and May 18/19 from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM, then Monday through Friday at the same hours starting Tuesday, May 28 through Friday, August 9. Season passes are not for sale at state beach entrance booths. DEM urges customers purchasing day passes at the entrance booths or customers purchasing a season pass at the overflow lot to have their money and documents ready to show the attendant to allow for these transactions to occur quickly and efficiently. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Payare all accepted as payment methods, allowing quicker “scan to pay” transactions. Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80.  To help reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths during beach season, DEM is urging visitors purchase their beach season passes well in advance of their plans to go to the beach.

Once purchased, season passes do not go into immediate effect. It takes up to 24 hours during the summer months for a buyer’s residency status and age to be verified to charge the correct fee and for the pass to be validated.  

Season passes allow entry into parking lots at all eight of Rhode Island’s state beaches: Charlestown Breachway, East Beach in Charlestown, East Matunuck in South Kingstown, Misquamicut in Westerly, Roger Wheeler, Scarborough North and South, and Salty Brine in Narragansett. However, it does not guarantee admission on high-capacity days or provide preference over other passes. Entry is on a first-come, first served basis at all locations. Resident and non-resident status are based solely upon the state in that the vehicle is registered. If you purchase a resident pass, your vehicle must be registered in Rhode Island. The only exception to this regulation is military personnel who are stationed in Rhode Island and provide proof or permanent duty papers. All others are required to purchase a non-resident pass. If the pass does not match the state registration status of the vehicle, the pass will be voided, and the occupants will be required to pay the day-use parking fee. Passes are non-transferable. A parking pass is tied to the specific vehicle. Note that if you are purchasing a pass for a second vehicle, you will need to use a different email address. Only one email address can be used per vehicle.  

Season passes no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes are now electronically connected to an individual’s license plate. DEM’s parking vendor, LAZ Parking, uses license plate recognition (LPR) technology at the express lanes whereby a scan is taken of the rear license plates of prepaid customers confirming that the customer has paid to allow for quick entry. Prepaid customers may use the express lanes at beaches for speedier access. Express lanes are available at all state beaches except for East Beach, Charlestown Breachway, and Salty Brine, which are one-lane facilities. 

Beach Jobs!

DEM is continuing to recruit to fill a wide range of seasonal jobs for critical summertime positions like lifeguards, park rangers, visitor services assistants, natural resource operations assistants, and other key staff to work at state beaches, parks, and campgrounds during the busy outdoor recreation season. With only 52 full-time employees managing 22 major parks, eight surf beaches, and dozens of other properties, DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation relies hugely on seasonal employees.

Being active outside, building lifelong friendships with workmates, and serving our communities are some of the big benefits of spending the summer working with Rhode Island DEM. Hundreds of talented seasonal employees work hard each summer alongside our full-time staff to make it possible for millions of people to enjoy Rhode Island’s beautiful natural places. Full-time lifeguard positions are available at all state swimming areas, including surf beaches such as Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut, non-surf beaches such as Goddard Memorial State Park, and freshwater beaches such as Burlingame Campground and Lincoln Woods State Park.

Lifeguard pay ranges from $17.75 to $19 an hour based on location, experience, and position level. All lifeguard candidates must receive state certification and hold valid cards in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR, including infant, child, and adult. Lifeguards hired by June 28, 2024, can receive a one-time, $500 sign-on bonus. Lifeguard staff who remain in good standing throughout their employment, have not taken more than five unapproved days off over the summer, and stay employed until Sept. 2, 2024, will be eligible for a one-time, $500 retention bonus.

Trash – do your part!

Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy. Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. All DEM properties have a carry-in/carry-out trash policy. This policy has been in effect since 1992. We ask all visitors to come prepared to secure their trash in their own containers and dispose of it properly when they return home. This simple measure helps minimize litter, reduces nuisance wildlife issues, and prevents trash and plastics from entering coastal waters. “The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences,” said Director Gray.  

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.

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