Press Release: Clean Ocean Access Honored for Public Access Efforts as It Releases Quarterly Report

Clean Ocean Access (COA) recently released its quarterly public access report detailing the safety and status of 50 public rights-of-way across Aquidneck Island.

During the fourth quarter, COA says that 23 volunteers completed 151 site surveys and monitored all 50 public rights-of-way within the City of Newport and the Towns of Middletown and Portsmouth. Volunteers and staff monitored and performed marine debris removal at all 50 public rights-of-way. Volunteers also monitored water quality testing at select public access points that remain popular destinations for residents and visitors all year round.

“The ocean has given me more than I could ever give back,” says Eric Vienne, a Newport resident, surfer and longtime COA supporter in a press release. “A time has come when coordinated efforts are necessary to counter negative impacts of modern living against our oceans. I volunteer for COA so generations to come will have clean waves to ride.” Preserving and protecting shoreline access is critical to COA’s mission and lies at the foundation of the organization’s core programs. Without safe and available access to public rights- of-way, surfers like Eric would not be able to access the shoreline to enjoy their favorite ocean activities.

The third quarter assessment finds that most of the access points are in good status, and all require short, medium and long-term action plans to maintain access to the water for recreational ocean activities. One right-of-way in Newport and two rights-of-ways in Portsmouth are not clearly identifiable and require coordinated action with Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (RI CRMC) and municipal staff to remedy the situation.

In January, COA received an award from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) recognizing COA’s work to improve public access to the East Bay coastal areas, clean the shoreline, monitor rights-of-way, and to advocate for a clean Narragansett Bay. COA staff attended the 21st Annual Banquet, held at the Quonset O Club in North Kingstown, where RISAA honored organizations that promote and enhance recreational fishing through environmental efforts, fisheries management, public access, and more.

COA program manager, Eva Touhey, holding the RISAA award overlooking Green End Pond.

“We are honored to accept the environment award from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association for our work to improve public access and advocate for a clean bay and ocean,” says Jessica Frascotti, program coordinator at COA in a press release. “We are thrilled to collaborate with an organization that shares in our goals to protect and preserve shoreline access for all to enjoy and we look forward to continuing our hard work towards protecting public access, eliminating marine debris and improving coastal water quality in 2019 and beyond.”

COA extends its sincere appreciation to all its volunteers and citizen scientists, as well as to the staff and council of the City of Newport, Towns of Middletown and Portsmouth, and RI CRMC for supporting the organization’s current and future efforts to protect and preserve shoreline access for all. 

Protecting Access

Clean water and healthy oceans are definitely high on our list of priorities, but if we can’t get to the coastline to enjoy ocean activities, then we’ve got a major problem to solve. Limited access to the shoreline is how the organization started in 2006 and to this day it is the most important (but probably least understood) issue that we work on. What started as a simple program related to knocking down obstruction barriers has evolved into an effort that includes topics such as erosion, sea-level rise, invasive species and long term shoreline planning. If you would like to get involved in monitoring public access to make sure it lasts forever, or to learn more about opportunities to make a difference, contact info@cleanoceanaccess.org

Access Volunteers Needed

Clean Ocean Access monitors all 50 shoreline public access points on Aquidneck Island, including 23 in Newport, 10 in Middletown, and 17 in Portsmouth. We are currently in need of volunteers in Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth to help monitor these access points ongoing.

Our access volunteers visit these access points to monitor things such as: obstructions to the rights of way (ROW) that are  limiting access, such as overgrown vegetation, fences, and/or large debris items, encroachment to ROW, if the water physically accessible, if parking is available, if there is recent vandalism, such as graffiti or illegal signs, and if there marine debris or litter.

We are in need of volunteers that can commit to monitoring a designated access point one time monthly for approximately 30 minutes. For more information and to volunteer, contact eva.touhey@cleanoceanaccess.org.

Improving ocean health and protecting fishing!

The ocean serves as a vast source of fun, and more importantly, food! Pollution affects the health of the ocean and all marine wildlife living within, including fish! We want to protect fishing by monitoring water quality year-round to ensure that the marine ecosystem remains balanced and healthy, so everyone can enjoy fishing a clean ocean.