Effective Beach Management at Matunuck

The Surfrider Foundation advocates actions to promote long-term beach preservation for the benefit of the public.  In high erosion areas such as Matunuck, Surfrider does not support the installation of hard stabilization or sand retention structures along the coastline.  Such structures can temporarily protect existing coastline development but have no place in beach preservation.

The Town of South Kingstown has petitioned the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) to 1) allow for the construction of a sheet pile wall to protect Matunuck Beach Road from erosion; and 2) re-classify a portion of the existing coast as man-made to allow for seawalls to be built. Check out the CRMC staff reports on Matunuck erosion. The Rhode Island Chapter of Surfrider Foundation has been speaking up against the proposed seawall project and shoreline reclassification along Matunuck Beach Road. Click here for the Chapter’s comments submitted to CRMC in regard to the shoreline classification.

The chapter has hired Robert Young, a professor of geology and Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. Since he is unable to attend the shoreline re-classification hearing on April 24th, we have asked him to submit written testimony on the impacts of seawalls on beaches. Click here for his expert testimony submitted to the CRMC Council for review.

Year-Round Water Testing

According to current EPA guidelines, Rhode Island’s coastal waters are only “active” during the three month summer season. Therefore, the State only recevies funding to test the water quality during those three months. Surfrider is coordinating with the State to propose Rhode Island’s waters to be tested 12 months of the year.

Clean Beaches

Beach rakes are intended to clean seaweed off a beach but negligent behavior can lead to piles of seaweed and trash in piles in dunes or in the corners of beaches. Surfrider members have seen this type of negligence at Narragansett Town Beach and are continually in contact with the Town in order to come up with a solution. The town of Narragansett has promised to keep up the situation and has been proactive in removing the trash from the area in order to keep our beaches clean!

Rise Above Plastics

There is a section of the Pacific Ocean twice the size of the continental United States called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Within it, 100 million tons of plastic swirl in a vortex of currents. There is so much plastic in the water that it outnumbers zooplankton by six to one!

This plastic ends up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals. In fact, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die globally each year due to ingestion of or entanglement in plastics. 

Plastic is forever, with virtually every piece of petroleum based plastic ever made still in existence. That’s why it’s so critical to our oceans and beaches that we dramatically reduce our use of plastics, especially single-use plastics, starting today.  The Rhode Island Chapter is reaching out to the community raising awareness and drawing attention to this issue.

You can make a difference for our world’s oceans, waves and beaches — pledge to rise above plastics today. Take the Plastic Pledge.

In October, single-use plastic grocery bags were banned in Barrington!  Check out our summary here.  We are currently working with other groups to try and get a state-wide ban!  One state house hearing at a time.

Open Space Preservation

Recently, Rose Nulman park down by the Point Judith Lighthouse is on the road to becoming a permanent conservation easement. This comes as great news to those of us that have made many memories of watching and surfing the waves at “The Lighthouse”. We still have a lot of work to do but it is a huge gift to the coastal community.

Alternative Energy Sources

Currently the state is wrestling with alternative energy sources (i.e. wind and wave energy) to provide the state with much needed green energy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The RI Chapter actively supports sustainable, renewable energy sources and hopes to continue the dialogue with the state to ensure environmental sound solutions.

Save Ruggles

Hopefully this is a short-lived campaign but for the time being, we thought it would be useful to have it listed here since we are involved in protecting a world-class surf break off Ruggles Ave. in Newport, RI. The RI Department of Transportation’s original proposal to repair the Newport Cliff Walk included hardened structures (temporary rock jetties and stone) that would disrupt the wave action at the the Ruggles surf spot. After much outpouring AGAINST the project, the state permitting agency, Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) decided not to consider the project. To see our letter of protest, and request for a public hearing or workshop, please click here. As of April 11, 2013, we are waiting to see what is expected to be a revised and much less aggressive Cliff Walk repair proposal. Newport officials have voted to save Ruggles and will be working with RI DOT on possible alternatives.



For more information regarding any of our campaigns or to make a difference in your local community please contact us at

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