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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

CRMC issues 2020-2021 ROW report

WAKEFIELD, February 9, 2022 – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has released its 2020-2021 annual report on rights-of-way in the state, “Designation of Public Rights-of-Way to The Tidal Areas of The State.”

From July 2020 through June 2021, the CRMC continued its ongoing efforts to discover and designate public rights-of-way to the tidal areas of Rhode Island, under its legislative mandate (RIGL 46-23-17).

During the report period, the CRMC designated three new rights-of-way in North Kingstown. At its February 23 meeting, the Council adopted the Allen Harbor Complex, Town Wharf, and Wilson Park ROWs. The Allen Harbor ROW consists of a lot running along the northwesterly side of Bruce Boyer Street approximately 1,870 feet along the street, bordered on the westerly side by Allen Harbor. Town Wharf ROW is located at the end of Main Street, and consists of a wharf facility jutting into Wickford Cove. Wilson Park ROW is located at the northern end of Intrepid Drive, bordered on three sides by Mill Cove. With the designation as a CRMC ROW, these spots will be offered an additional layer of protection so they are preserved and protected as shoreline public access spots for the public to use in perpetuity. Typically once adopted, the rights-of-way continue to be maintained by the municipality, unless they are adopted through the CRMC’s Adopt-an-Access Program. In that case, the adopting entity takes on the responsibility for upkeep.

A Special Legislative Commission to Study and Providence Recommendations on the Issues Relating to Lateral Access Along the Rhode Island Shoreline was created upon the passage of RI House Bill H5469 in June of 2021. CRMC Executive Director Jeffrey Willis was selected to sit on this committee. The commission is expected to release its recommendations in early 2022.

The CRMC, along with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the City of Newport, reached a preliminary agreement in October of 2021 to restore access to the previously obstructed Lee’s Wharf Right-of-Way. This agreement will restore access and provide for site improvements to the area for the public, and is the result of a partnership between the CRMC, RI AG and Save The Bay, which established a rights-of-way initiative to clear obstructions within CRMC-designated ROWs in Rhode Island.

During the reporting period, the CRMC and Rhode Island Sea Grant hosted three educational webinars on a variety of shoreline public access issues between the months of June 2021 and September 2021. Webinars covered he topics of the Adopt-an-Access Program, the discovery and designation of CRMC ROWs, and the partnerships between the CRMC and municipalities crucial to the success of the rights-of-way program. The recorded webinars and other related materials are on the CRMC website -

The CRMC updated its ArcGIS Online ROW database and map tool. University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute Assistant Director Nathan Vinhateiro and former CRMC Coastal Geologist Janet Freedman conducted the detailed update of the tool, which included adding new ROWs, fine-tune the location of the designation points, rectify broken links, and modernize the map’s appearance. URI’s Environmental Data Center assisted in developing the new platform, and Freedman and Vinhateiro donated their time toward the work. The revised map can be accessed here –

Beginning in 1978, the CRMC was tasked with identifying and designating all public rights-of-way to the shore. To meet this charge, the CRMC created a Rights-of-Way Subcommittee. The report details actions of the subcommittee, as well as legal proceedings stemming from these activities and subsequent actions of the Council. The goal of the CRMC is to designate at least one public right-of-way for each mile of shoreline. With 229 sites designated along 420 miles of Rhode Island shoreline as of this report, the Council is more than halfway to its goal. For more information on the CRMC ROW designation process, or for the full ROW report, go to the web site at


Stedman Government Center
Suite 116, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879-1900
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