My husband and I have been camping at East Beach since the late 1970s. We are non-residents but have always treated our campsite and the whole area with reverence. We have acted as stewards to keep our area neat and clean, act responsibly and, often, police after those who are not so responsible. We have worked with RIMS, Scouts and other groups to clean the beach, put up fences and plant pine trees and beach grass over the years.
We are amazed and very disappointed that the state DEM proposed such high rates for camping at our beach, considering there are no hookups, water, sewer, electric, bathrooms, changing rooms, boat ramps or anything else. The articles online and on the DEM blog state the rates are in line with other camping in other states but the average across New England for sites like ours is $30 plus processing, nowhere near $55 plus processing. State beach primitive lots can’t logically be compared to private RV resorts with all the amenities. Charlestown Beach camping has more amenities and yet they are a lower tier and $36 per night. We would understand if East Beach and Charlestown were in the same tier. But East Beach is certainly not $55-worthy for the following reasons:
Beyond the main parking area, there are 2 small areas for campers, at least 4 parking areas for “day people” (vehicles with 4-wheel-drive sand passes). Over the last few years, we have been experiencing more and more “day people” coming into the clearly marked camp areas. In addition, there are people who boat across the pond (boat people), anchor and walk up through (not around or away from) our campsites to get to the beach front in front of our camper parking site.
Both the “day people” and “boat people” are generally at the beach a full day, and periodically wander onto the sand dunes and behind trees to defecate, since there are no bathrooms out there where we are.
The people bring dogs by boat (and sometimes in day vehicles). The dogs also pee and poop all over the sand, and owners are not picking up the waste.
The folks who come over by boat feel they can wander though our campsites, leave their messes behind, let their pets wander free and break any rules they want as far as alcohol on the beach, smoking, kite-flying during plover season, sail kiting, etc.
Posted signs and published rules on dogs, pets, plover closures etc. are ignored by these non-campers and if we ask them to stay away from our campsites, they get verbally abusive to us.
Every camper has had days where people wandered thru their site, moved chairs, walked into awning bars, etc.
At no other campground are people allowed to roam freely in another’s campsite, yet there are no available rangers or anyone to keep non-campers out of the area.
Not only are there no amenities but there is also very little policing of the area. Mainly people (DEM, rangers) will come checking for camping permits that we paid for, but not do much in the way of keeping non-campers out of the campground. In the past we have had to lodge complaints of people racing through the campsites in vehicles, setting fires on the beach and near the dunes, setting up tents, etc. Sometimes we see a ranger but often we hear they “had no one to come out” or no vehicle to come out with.
Post-Hurricane Sandy, the fencing was moved inward and it is our belief that currently you could not fit 10 RVs in the area as noted in the specs, and the sites are smaller than the breachway.
Our campers and RVs are all self-contained; we bring in water and take out waste and refuse. We leave nothing behind and are not provided with any amenities at all for our camping fee.
Our one “amenity” used to be peace and quiet and fresh air, however the intrusion of non-campers and their habits have destroyed that.
Finally, for demographics in Area 1, (where I camp), the campers who have been coming for many, many years are all senior citizens living on fixed income. One camper is a Rhode Island resident senior, six campers are non-resident seniors and there are two families who are in their late 40s and 50s. It appears that Rhode Island is unfairly targeting senior citizens who can least afford this ridiculous rate hike!
On behalf of all the campers — resident and non — we are asking that the tier of this camping area be re-reviewed due to lack of amenities commensurate with other same-tier sites.
In the event that DEM does not see fit to adjust this rate hike to a more reasonable level — or AT THE VERY LEAST the same as Charlestown breachway — we would expect that the area will be policed more efficiently and the non-campers be required to access the beach from other points and NOT be allowed to roam within the campground we are expected to pay dearly for. Additionally, we would expect that the management will maintain a better level of security on the trails in and out of the area, since all summer, year after year, it has been us, the campers, extricating the majority of day people stuck in the sand trail, blocking egress.
We would be happy to meet with any officials to discuss this current situation in the hope that RIDEM and the government in general is interested in our views, experiences and years of experiences at this campground. As it stands now, our camping days will be cut short and there will be no outings to the local restaurants, stores and attractions. So the local economy also loses out. Please reconsider this and please contact us to discuss. We would be happy to show you the area and you can see firsthand what it really is like out there in order to support a better rate plan. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The writers are residents of Wallingford, Conn., and summer residents of East Beach.