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Rhode Island: DEM Acquires Former Echo Lake Campground in Burrillville

PROVIDENCE, RI (STL.News) The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that it has purchased the former Echo Lake Campground in Burrillville.  The 235-acre property is located on the west side of Echo Lake, also known as Pascoag Reservoir, and contains 2,200 feet of linear frontage on the lake.

“This acquisition is an unparalleled opportunity to secure a large swath of the freshwater shoreline on Echo Lake along with a substantial tract of conserved forestland,” said DEM Director Janet Coit.  “DEM’s purchase of this property further protects water quality and provides significant recreational benefits in northern Rhode Island and is a nice complement to our George Washington Management Area.”  The campground’s location on a large freshwater lake makes this property a key recreational asset.  The recently completed Parks Study, and emerging national trends, show that camping is on the rise, and DEM’s campsite operations indicate there is a large demand for this recreational resource.  DEM manages five state campgrounds, including Burlingame State Campground, Charlestown Breachway, and East Beach Campground in Charlestown; Fishermen’s Memorial Campground in Narragansett; and George Washington Memorial Campground in Glocester.  In order to pursue long term camping options, a master plan will be developed to identify the most appropriate business structure for the property and conceptualize a layout plan to achieve that vision.  DEM will be working closely with the Town of Burrillville as we move forward.

According to DEM’s Division of Planning and Development, properties of this size are increasingly rare in Rhode Island.  Preserving this land adds to the existing 15,100-acre corridor of conserved forestland in the northwest corner of the state that filters our air and water, providing innumerable benefits to wildlife as well as recreational opportunities.  Rhode Island’s wealth of historic parks, bikeways, and green spaces provide for public enjoyment – along with improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state’s climate resilience, and supporting the economy.  Since 1985, over 10,000 acres of land have been protected.

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DEM purchased the former Echo Lake Campground property from the Trustees of the Helen F. Moroney Real Estate Trust for $2.03M from existing Open Space Bond funds.  Helen Moroney owned the former campground, which closed in 2020, for over 50 years.  Until DEM finalizes its plan and completes any necessary updates to the property the campground and docks will remain closed.  Only passive use of this property will be allowed and all rules and regulations for DEM properties will apply.

“Helen leaves a wonderful legacy, said Jane O’Neil, a Trustee of the Helen F. Moroney Real Estate Trust.  “Her nieces and nephews grew up spending summers on the lake and will miss walking through the woods as well as many boating activities.  Many beautiful memories were made by campers and family alike. Helen knew every camper by name and enjoyed seeing them every summer.”  In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, in 2020 DEM implemented new procedures to protect staff and visitor health and support a safe, accessible return to camping.  DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature and is committed to ensuring visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences at state campgrounds.

DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health.  More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/