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The Department of Environmental Management, with support from The Nature Conservancy, has completed repair and maintenance work on the public boat launch in Colt State Park in Bristol.
The project entailed replacing rotted framing timbers and rusted steel grates on the end of the fixed dock, as well as installing new rub-rails and pile caps. The contractor also removed years of accumulated sand from the two ramp lanes to improve launching and retrieving conditions for boat operators.
Popular with recreational boaters and anglers, the Colt Park boat launch also provides safe, year-round access to Narragansett Bay for East Bay quahoggers. The closest alternative boat launch is in Bristol Harbor at Independence Park, adding five miles to the trip to and from important shellfishing grounds. DEM and TNC coordinated with local shellfishermen on the construction project to keep at least one ramp lane open while the work was ongoing.
The boat ramp improvements at Colt State Park were designed by engineers at DEM Planning and Development and The Nature Conservancy. The repairs were completed by Specialty Diving Services, Inc. of North Kingstown, RI.
The total cost of construction was $103,000, with $77,250 provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program and $25,750 from Rhode Island saltwater fishing license fees. The federal Sport Fish Restoration Act established a user-pay, user-benefit program derived from taxes on motorboat fuel, fishing equipment and purchase of some boats. The Colt Park boat ramp project is an excellent example of how those taxes are used for public benefit to improve access to the waters of the state. A portion of the federal funding is dedicated to the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, specifically for boating access.
The repair work at Colt State Park is one of a number of boat ramp reconstruction projects to be completed by DEM and TNC in recent years. This public-nonprofit partnership has also improved the boat ramps at Sakonnet Harbor, Galilee, Quonochontaug and Goddard State Park.
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