DEM Acquires Former Echo Lake Campground in Burrillville
January 8, 2021
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has purchased the former Echo Lake Campground in Burrillville. The 235-acre property is on the west side of Echo Lake, also known as Pascoag Reservoir, and contains 2,200 feet of linear frontage on the lake.
The campground’s location on a large freshwater lake makes this property a key recreational asset. A recently completed Rhode Island parks study, and emerging national trends, show that camping is on the rise. Also, DEM’s campsite operations indicate there is a large demand for this recreational resource.
The state agency manages five campgrounds: 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, according to DEM. State officials will be working closely with the town of Burrillville as plans move forward.
“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,” DEM director Janet Coit said. “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.”
Properties of this size are increasingly rare in Rhode Island, according to DEM’s Division of Planning and Development. Preserving this land adds to the existing 15,100-acre corridor of conserved forestland in the northwest corner of the state.
DEM bought the property from the Trustees of the Helen F. Moroney Real Estate Trust for $2.03 million using open-space bond money. Helen Moroney owned the former campground, which closed last year, for more than 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. “Many beautiful memories were made by campers and family alike. Helen knew every camper by name and enjoyed seeing them every summer.”
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So nice to get good news for a change! And for conservation! Had DEM not purchased this, could have become the next condo development.
How does the state define "passive use"? Can the public walk the property?