Quonnie Boat Launch

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing

Construction Of A New Boat Launch At Quonochontaug Pond

By Jillian Thompson, Conservation Engineer and Emily Koo, Public Access Coordinator, RI DEM Planning and Development

The Nature Conservancy in partnership with RI DEM Division of Planning & Development

In 2019, DEM will construct a new boat launch with a floating dock at Quonochontaug (Quonnie) Breachway in Charlestown, Rhode Island. A popular destination for boaters, anglers, paddlers, and summer tourists alike, Quonnie Pond offers picturesque views and sandy shoreline while the breachway connects boaters to Block Island Sound.

The coastal salt ponds are an immense asset to public recreation and revenue in Rhode Island. The deepest and most saline, Quonnie Pond is over 700 acres in area with over 80 acres of salt marsh, which host vital fish and bird populations. Commonly caught fish species in the area include striped bass, black seabass, tautog, scup, summer flounder, and bluefish.

The breachway was once a natural channel that opened and closed periodically but was permanently opened by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1950s with the placement of armor stone along the shoreline. These are the large granite rock walls that can be seen as you drive along West Beach Road to access the parking lot and launch area.

In early 2018, DEM, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, hired Fuss and O’Neill to develop a boat launch design that would provide safer access for boaters and improve users’ launch and retrieval efforts. The improvements would complement the significant salt marsh restoration and enhancement at Quonnie Pond that was conducted by CRMC in late 2018 and early 2019.

Construction of the new boat launch is slated to begin in Fall of 2019. The boat ramp will be reoriented in a north-south direction so boaters can safely launch without having to fight the strong currents in the breachway channel. Improvements will include a new 24-foot wide pre-cast concrete boat ramp and a 6-foot wide floating dock with cleats and rub rails for boaters to tie to when launching or retrieving their vessel.

The boat ramp slabs currently in place at Quonnie, originally installed in 1971, will be removed, and large flat stones will be put in their place, offering an additional fishing area.

Much of the funding for the project will be provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program. The Sport Fish Restoration Program is a user-pay, user-benefit program that is derived from taxes on motorboat fuel, fishing equipment, and the purchase of some boats. A portion of the national funding is dedicated to DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, specifically for boating access. This project is an excellent example of how those taxes are used for direct public benefit to improve and increase boating access to the waters of the state. The required matching funds for the project will be provided by the land value of the public access area at Quonnie and saltwater fishing license receipts.

Visit https://www.ri.gov/DEM/boatrenewal/ for more information on boating registration requirements and https://www.ri.gov/DEM/huntfish for more information on fishing licenses.

Is there another boating or fishing access site that you think needs improvement?

We would love to hear from you! Contact Emily Koo, Public Access Program Coordinator, at emily.koo@dem.ri.gov or (401) 222-2776 ext. 7277