Hunting On The Cove – Part Two
Scalloptown Park may be a wildlife refuge, but waterfowl hunting is still allowed by state law below the mean high tide line through Jan. 20.
When last we met, I had posed the question, "So, are the hunters pictured here are in Warwick?"
It turns out I was asking the wrong question. The question should have been, "Are these hunters below the mean high-tide line?" in reference to the photo that accompanied that article.
Sadly, I don't have a definitive answer, but after reading all the comments on the first story and talking to Town Manager Bill Sequino and Deputy Chief Kurt Blanchard of the state Department of Environmental Management, I do have more information.
First of all, despite the fact that the area in question – the East Greenwich portion at the southern end of Greenwich Cove – is named Scalloptown Park and Wildlife Refuge (emphasis mine), hunting is indeed allowed on the shore as long as the hunters are below the mean high tide line.
Where is the mean high tide line? That's not exactly clear, but the DEM's Blanchard says it's the "reed wash line."
DEM's Gail Mastrati said, "CRMC has a very complex definition of what the high tide mark is that takes a lot of variables into account. Coastal Resources and our law enforcement officers use the debris line as the high tide mark."
The Town of East Greenwich does not allow hunting east of South County Trail. However, according to Blanchard and Town Manager Sequino, state law preempts town ordinance, and according to state law, hunting below the mean high tide line is allowed in Greenwich Cove as long as hunters are at least 500 feet from any building.
Blanchard said DEM routinely gets complaints in January, mainly because January is the best time for duck hunting on Narragansett Bay. It's a 60-day season, but "really, there's only 2, 3 4 weeks of good hunting along the coast," he said.
Scalloptown Park is a relatively new name for an area that was the East Greenwich Town Dump for many years. In 2009, the town capped the dump and transformed it into a park and wildlife refuge.
"The thing to keep in mind is, guys hunted there forever," Blanchard said. "There's a balance there. We're a multi-use society. How do we work with each other, respect each other?"
The question is moot for now in any event, since duck-hunting season ended last Sunday, Jan. 20.