This is a beautiful state, and this fund will help keep it that way
A fund to support Rhode Island's state parks
A son’s desire to honor his father’s legacy will benefit everyone who enjoys our state parks, beaches, and more. Charlie Milot—in honor of his father, Arthur Milot—provided the initial gift to this Fund which is designated to support Rhode Island State Parks.
"My father would take me for walks around Fort Wetherill as a child and it was a magical place for me. Later in life, he walked through the park daily on his way into town and often stopped to look out over Newport or south to Block Island."- Charlie Milot
He continues, "When he died in 2019, we approached the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to place a bench in his memory at one of his favorite outlooks. Working with DEM, we realized that the budget for Fort Wetherill, and for Rhode Island parks in general, is inadequate for their maintenance and improvement. All Rhode Islanders, and especially those of us who live nearby, benefit greatly from the parks and owe them our support. Our family is excited to be able to participate, through the Rhode Island Foundation, in a long term project to preserve these invaluable open spaces for future generations.”
Rhode Islanders agree with Charlie’s assessment of the parks’ value. More than 400 attendees to the Rhode Island Foundation-hosted Together RI events in 2018 concurred, citing “Rhode Island’s natural resources and open space” as our state’s biggest strength, with the coastal environment and beauty of the state among their reasons.
“The beauty of Rhode Island and having access to the parks and beaches is really special. We have nine million visitors to our major parks and beaches each year, and the attendance rates greatly increased during COVID. There were days in April or November that looked like a July day,” states Janet Coit, immediate past director of DEM.
The DEM Division of Parks manages more than 8,200 acres of land, including parks, beaches, campgrounds, bike paths, historic sites, picnic areas, trails, athletic fields, dams, fishing access, and boat ramps. “There’s a wonderful array of parks from Pulaski Park in the northwest part of the state to Rocky Point, our newest state park. And part of what makes our parks special is that they’re free,” Janet notes, while acknowledging seasonal parking fees at some of Rhode Island’s beaches.
“Our parks are so loved and so visited, but we’re not taking care of them appropriately. This Fund provides a very meaningful way for people to support Rhode Island, augmenting and enhancing state funding,” Janet explains. Among areas the Fund could support are recreation and education, habitat and historic preservation, and infrastructure improvements and resilience.
"While taxpayers fund the ongoing operational and capital needs of our state park system, we want to look beyond the line items in the annual budget and think about what’s required to protect the long-term sustainability of these public places. The Fund for Rhode Island State Parks is an investment in our future."- Frank Floor, administrator of DEM’s Bureau of Natural Resources and Parks
Of the partnership with the Foundation, Janet states, “We’ve worked with the Rhode Island Foundation on conservation and environmental issues in the past. That focus makes this a natural fit. And we know people are comfortable making a gift to the Rhode Island Foundation, an important consideration as we seek to grow this Fund.”