DEM invites Rhode Islanders to explore the outdoors during February School Vacation Week

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The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that they are hosting a series of events throughout February school vacation week to encourage families to get outdoors and explore Rhode Island.

Opportunities include daily guided tours of Fort Adams, an open house at Eisenhower House, birdwatching, guided nature expeditions, letterboxing, youth fly-tying, and a tree ID walk at Arcadia Management Area. The program is part of the State’s broader efforts to promote outdoor recreation and exercise and offer young Rhode Islanders an alternative to smart phones, social media, and video games.

“Rhode Island state parks and conservation areas are some of the best places to explore diverse ecosystems, see native flora and fauna, and have fun,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a statement. “We’re excited to offer this full lineup of activities for school vacation week. I encourage children and families to come out and learn about the fascinating natural world all around them. Terrific!” 

Scheduled events include:

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WHAT:          Guided tours of Fort Adams

WHEN:             Saturday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 23| 12 PM and 2 PM

Fort Adams State Park, Newport

Guided tours of Fort Adams will be offered daily at noon and 2 PM during school vacation week. Tours begin at the park visitor center. Tickets/ admission fee required for entry. Tours are weather-dependent; patrons may call the Fort Adams gift shop at 401-619-5790 for schedule updates.

WHAT:              Self-guided tours of Eisenhower House

WHEN:             Monday, Feb. 17| 10 AM-2 PM

Fort Adams State Park, Newport

Explore this stately mansion in Fort Adams State Park that served as the summer White House of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Built in 1873, Eisenhower House commands breathtaking views of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. For more information email Bruce.thompson@dem.ri.gov.

WHAT:              Winter nature expedition at Goddard Park

WHEN:             Wednesday, Feb. 19| 10 AM-2 PM

Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick

Whether snow or shine, join DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation for a winter nature expedition at beautiful Goddard Park, home to 300 varieties of trees and beautiful scenic vistas. Discover new ways to identify plants and animals using free apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone. Bring your camera to capture the beauty of nature in winter. If there’s snow, feel free to bring cross-country skis or snow shoes! Enter through the main entrance gate and drive straight to parking area near the beach and Carousel Performing Arts Center. For more information email Cynthia.elder@dem.ri.gov.

WHAT:              Youth fly-tying workshops

WHEN:             Wednesday, Feb. 19| 9 AM and 2 PM

Lincoln Woods State Park Nature Center, Lincoln

Designed for youths 10 and over, each 2-hour session will immerse participants in the arts of knot-tying and fly-tying for freshwater fishing. All equipment and fly-tying materials will be provided. Registration is required and each session is limited to 20 participants. To register send your name and contact information to Madison.proulx.INT@dem.ri.gov.

WHAT:              Nature hike and tree identification at Arcadia Management Area

WHEN:             Thursday, Feb. 20| 10 AM-2 PM

Arcadia Management Area, Hopkinton/Richmond/Exeter

DEM’s Division of Forest Environment will host a guided hike in the 14,000-acre Arcadia Management Area, which is the state’s largest recreation area for hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Participants will learn about forests, hiking and trail etiquette, warm water fisheries, wildlife, and how to identify trees in winter. The guided hike will depart from the parking area at Browning Mill Pond off Arcadia Road. For more information email William.walker@dem.ri.gov.

WHAT:              Winter nature expedition at Burlingame Campground

WHEN:             Friday, Feb. 21| 10 AM-2 PM

Burlingame State Park, Charlestown

Snow or shine, join DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation for a winter nature expedition at Burlingame State Campground and catch a rare glimpse of this 3,100-acre campground in winter, with stunning views of Watchaug Pond and rocky woodlands. Discover new ways to identify plants and animals using free apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone. Bring your camera to capture the beauty of nature in winter. If there’s snow, feel free to bring cross-country skis or snow shoes! Participants will meet in the parking lot near the front office at the main entrance. For more information email Cynthia.elder@dem.ri.gov.

WHAT:          Come Birding with Me!

WHEN:             Saturday, Feb. 22| 10 AM-11:30 AM

                   Beavertail State Park, Jamestown

Join the RI Division of Fish and Wildlife for its 4th annual, family-friendly, winter birding adventure at Beavertail State Park. Novice and experienced birdwatchers will learn all about Rhode Island’s migratory sea ducks and how to identify these super cool birds. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and warm clothes with lots of layers including mittens, hats, and scarves, and bring binoculars if they have them.  Registration is required. To sign up, visit https://forms.gle/bnvk1bKCPMnEQpNTA.

WHAT:              Self-directed activity – Letterboxing in State Parklands

WHEN:             Ongoing starting on Friday, Feb. 14

State Parks across Rhode Island

Discover the fun of letterboxing with your family. This intriguing “treasure hunt”-style outdoor activity challenges you to find hidden letterboxes in publicly accessible places, like parks. There are around 90,000 letterboxes hidden across North America. Starting Feb. 14, RI State Parks will join the fun by hiding letterboxes in many state parks. All you need is a notepad and a rubber stamp. You’ll find the clues for each letterbox at www.letterboxing.org; enter “RI State Parks” in the “Search by Letterbox Name” to find letterboxes in state parks. Each letterbox contains a log book, a rubber stamp, and an ink pad. When you find the letterbox, use your stamp to leave your mark in the letterbox log book, and stamp your own log book with the letterbox stamp. Try to collect all the state park stamps! For more information email Cynthia.elder@dem.ri.gov.

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 found that State-managed parks, beaches, campsites, and other assets infuse more than $310 million into the economy. They also add almost $40 million in state and local taxes and support nearly 4,000 jobs a year. Our natural and public assets – including 8,200 acres of parkland, 1,000 campsites, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, 200 fishing spots, 25 parks and nature preserves, and 8 saltwater beaches – are magnets, attracting more than 9 million visits from Rhode Islanders and tourists a year.

Rhode Island’s small game hunting season is now open. All users of state management areas and all hunters statewide are reminded to wear at least 200 square inches of solid daylight-fluorescent orange material through the end of the season, February 29. The fluorescent orange must be worn above the waist and must be visible from all directions.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.