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Safety concerns, potential for sink holes causes section of Fort Wetherill, Jamestown to close

What’s known as the “bulkhead” area at Fort Wetherill in Jamestown is a popular fishing and viewing location of Narragansett Bay. Yesterday, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that the bulkhead behind DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries at Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown will be temporarily closed to public vehicular and pedestrian traffic until further notice starting Friday, June 14. The closure is being enacted to protect public safety due to degraded supports to the bulkhead and potential sink holes caused by historic infrastructure and sustained damage from recent storm events.

“This closure to protect public safety is another example of challenges that Rhode Island’s coastal communities are increasingly contending with due to the impacts of climate change,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “DEM priorities include enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities and ensuring shoreline and fishing access across Rhode Island. However, given the concerns for public safety, we decided to restrict this area until we can better understand our options for quickly and safely restoring access to this great fishing and sightseeing spot.” 

Fort Wetherill State Park, situated upon 100-foot-high granite cliffs across the water from Fort Adams State Park, is a former coastal defense battery and training camp with many of the structures seen today dating to and before World War II. Comprised of 61.5 acres, the park was formally acquired by the State of Rhode Island from the United States in 1972. This portion of the property became the location of DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries close to the early 2000s. Today the bulkhead serves as the berthing location for the Division’s research vessels.

Parts of the closure area will remain open for authorized vehicles and personnel to continue DEM’s scientific research activities. Parking at other locations within the park, including the upper lot for the Division will remain open to the public. 

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