Protect and Preserve Shoreline Access

Clean water and healthy oceans are 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.

Overview of active efforts

Monitoring of rights of way – Every month the community monitors all fifty rights of way on Aquidneck Island and reports on obstruction, encroachment, vandalism, erosion and other pertinent variables. The data is used either to immediately take action for high priority issues or to keep a constant awareness of the health of the rights of ways. To learn more on how to get involved, please visit our community scientist page.

Adoption of rights of way – Thirty-one of the fifty rights of way on Aquidneck Island have been adopted by Clean Ocean Access in partnership with the Coastal Resources Management Council and the local government, along with Friends of the Waterfront in Newport for the harbor rights of way. Efforts are now underway to adopt the two remaining rights of way in Middletown and the seventeen rights of way in Portsmouth. To learn more on how to get involved, please visit our community scientist page.

Expansion of rights of way – Many rights of way exist on Aquidneck Island that were not officially designated by the Coastal Resources Management Council in their efforts in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We are keenly aware of numerous of fishing locations around Ocean Drive, the west side of the Island, and dozens of town rights of way in Portsmouth. As the Restoration Advisory Board finishes the environmental remediation on the west side of the island, it is imperative that we establish ample public rights of way and adequate parking.

Education and Outreach  Our education and outreach activities are aligned with our community scientist efforts so that a hands-on student-led experience can have the greatest chance of fostering environmentally responsible behaviors and promoting stewardship in our community via action. For complete information about education and outreach opportunities, please visit our education page.

Analytics and Reporting Data becomes information and information becomes knowledge that informs our decision making to protect and preserve shoreline access. With over fourteen years of access monitoring we have amassed an incredible data set that empowers our organization. All of our data is available for the public and our annual Access and Cliff Walk report can be found on our reports page.

Advocacy – Our main goal is to bring about systemic change is to connect the community with the environment, educating, inspiring, and empowering to foster environmentally responsible behaviors. However, some forms of shoreline access issues require advocacy and policy. From our founding efforts of a parking dispute in Newport, to adopting Tuckerman right of way in 2008, we have carefully built respect, recognition and moral integrity that allowed us to resolve the Cliff walk repairs issue in 2013 with a gentle touch rather than a legal approach. In 2020 new legislation was introduced and we are excited to part of the effort to put in place a change to Rhode Island State Law that allows residents to enjoy the coastline in the immediate range of where the ocean meets the land. While the proposed law may introduce some points of consideration that make it hard to enforce, we feel it strongly moves in the right direction. Whether you collect seaweed, enjoy riding waves, fishing or simply find peace by being near or in the ocean, we need to make sure that every resident of the state can enjoy the ocean and shoreline, and have the ability to move around freely at the water’s edge. Here are a few links to keep tabs as this moves forward: House Bill #7755 Senate Bill #2756 News Article

Map of activities

Frequently asked questions

<< add accordion to address current/active questions/topics about shoreline access and also to re-route questions and inquiries to the best place for action and follow-up. >>


Since our first water access issue in January 2006 to the end of 2019 the community has accomplished these incredible results to protect and preserve shoreline access.


Number of adopted rights of way


Amount of monitoring reports


Hours of volunteer service

Get involved, volunteer, and become a community scientist

There are many ways to get involved with our efforts to protect and preserve shoreline access, along with our other projects. Please visit our community scientist page.