Beach access could grow as public usage boundary redefined

Rhode Islanders may soon gain more public access to the state’s shoreline, as the legislature prepares to examine a bill that will move the boundary between private property and the public land inland from the wrack line, an additional ten feet.
The citizens of Rhode Island are guaranteed “shore privileges” under the state constitution, including but not limited to, fishing from the shore, gathering seaweed, swimming, and passage along the shore (Article 1, section 17). But, citizens who own beachfront property also have property rights. The conflict between who owns which part of the beach, and who is allowed to use it, is a long running debate in beachfront communities.
The bipartisan Special Legislative Commission to Study and Provide Recommendations on the Issues Relating to Lateral Access Along the Rhode Island Shoreline was formed by the Rhode Island State Legislature in June 2021. The commission, led by Representatives Blake Filippi, who represents Block Island and Charlestown, and Terri Cortvriend, who represents Middletown and Portsmouth, is preparing to present legislation “clarifying public shoreline access.”Filippi told The Block Island Times: “This was the most productive commission I’ve experienced. Last week, we reached consensus that the area where the public’s constitutional

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