Beaches and parks open, enjoy responsibly

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 6:15pm
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The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced last week the temporary closure of Rhode Island state parks and beaches, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the public. The state parks and beaches, including their parking areas, closed on Friday, April 3.

When asked if R.I. D.E.M.’s closure to the state parks and beaches applies to the island community, Interim Town Manager Jim Kern said “The answer is no. Our beaches are open until we decide otherwise. And I don’t expect a change in the foreseeable future.”

Executive Director of the Block Island Conservancy Clair Stover-Comings said “The [trails] are currently open. We’re monitoring them and the parking lots to make sure everyone’s complying with CDC guidelines.”

The Nature Conservancy Great Salt Pond scientist Diandra Verbeyst also mentioned the trails “have friendly reminder signage to be safe and keep social distancing.”

Block Island is home to many diverse trails, preserves, and beaches that provide island residents access to quiet recreational use, which in turn, benefit our mental health and capacity. Spending time outside each day can help alleviate stress and cluttered minds while everyone continues shelter in place and practice social distancing (until at least May 8).

Here’s a sampling of the island’s treasures:

EDWARD PAYNE OVERLOOK AT MOHEGAN BLUFFS

The Mohegan Bluffs, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, provides the best island view of the Wind Farm. You can see Montauk on a clear day. Stairs on the bluffs lead down to the ocean, offering access to the beach and fresh air.

NATHAN MOTT PARK

It’s like a little bit of New England countryside on the island. Nathan Mott Park has trails leading through trees and brush, looping through the Enchanted Forest and beyond. The park is located across from the Block Island State Airport on Center Road.

RODMAN’S HOLLOW NATURE PRESERVE

Rodman’s Hollow is a vast nature preserve; plants and animals abound. Block Island’s own Central Park. Trails lead to the edge of the bluffs and overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Rodman’s Hollow can be found off Cooneymus Road on the south of the island, with parking available at the beginning of the trailhead

NORTH LIGHT

The North Light can be found at the northern tip of the island at the end of Corn Neck Road, where Settler’s Rock can also be found. Seagulls, swans, egrets, swallows and other birds can be spotted resting in Sachem Pond. If you leave your car or bike in the parking lot, you can walk out to the lighthouse, where bricks etched with the names of donors comprise the small patio. Further past the lighthouse, you can find the North Light Refuge, a protected environment of nesting seagulls, swallows and sparrows.

OCEAN VIEW

The Ocean View Pavilion, is a high spot in Old Harbor behind the Post Office Building where there is a great view of Crescent Beach, or to take a rest under the wood pavilion. The site is open to the public, and has held programs to increase the public’s awareness of environmental issues. The Ocean View Hotel, late 19th century Victorian Hotel, once stood on these grounds; all that remains are its foundation.

FRED BENSON TOWN BEACH

Fred Benson Town Beach, named after the island’s most famed resident, is easily found on Corn Neck Road (a mile from town). It’s a series of beaches that stretch along the eastern side of the island. Of course, don’t walk on the dunes.

GREENWAY TRAILS

The Greenway Trails cover more than 30 miles of the island. They are for walkers only. No bikes or motorized vehicles of any kind. No horses, either. These trails offer walkers an opportunity to listen to the sounds of nature.