DEM seeking public feedback on outdoor recreation in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning are conducting an online survey this month to gather public input on outdoor recreation opportunities in Rhode Island. Feedback from the survey will be used to inform the Rhode Island Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) to help create improved outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors and prioritize funding for future outdoor recreation projects over the next five years.

“We encourage residents across our state to participate in this important survey and share their insights about outdoor recreation in Rhode Island,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a press release on Monday. “Their feedback will help us create better outdoor opportunities for all Rhode Islanders and visitors. Providing people with places to get outdoors and enjoy nature is part of DEM’s core mission, is good for health, fosters our next generation of environmental stewards, and ensures Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to live.”

All Rhode Islanders interested in outdoor recreation are invited to participate in the survey and share their thoughts about outdoor recreation preferences and demand: Do you fish, camp, bike, hike, walk, or skateboard?  What kinds of outdoor activities would you like to do more often? What would get you outside more often? The SCORP Outdoor Recreation Survey takes only a few minutes to complete and is available on DEM’s website. The survey will be open through Friday, March 29. 

The survey is one of the final steps in the public outreach component of the SCORP. From October through January, eight listening sessions were held across Rhode Island to solicit feedback on specific focus areas such as boating/paddling/shoreline access; trails/mountain biking; parks/playground/urban recreation; health; general recreation; and biking. At these sessions, participants shared their thoughts and experiences about what is working, what could be improved, and what is missing in the state’s outdoor recreation network. 

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Enlisting public feedback for the 2019 SCORP update builds upon the work of the Outdoor Recreation Council convened by Governor Raimondo in 2016 to develop an actionable vision for promoting and growing outdoor recreation in Rhode Island.  The Council’s Final Report highlights the importance of the recreational network to Rhode Island’s economic and cultural vitality. Rhode Island is home to a wealth of historic parks, beaches, bikeways, and other recreational facilities. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs each year. A 2017 study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that State-managed parks and bikeways alone contribute $311 million to the economy annually and support over 3,700 jobs and nine million visits.

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