PORTSMOUTH, R.I. \u2014 As part of Governor Gina M. Raimondo's initiative to support and celebrate state parks and beaches, Rhode Islanders for the first time can buy season beach passes online or in advance at an off-site location in North Kingstown.\n\nThe Department of Environmental Management (DEM) hopes the new purchasing options will reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths and help ease traffic backups into parking lots.\n\nThe online purchase option is accessible at www.riparks.com. Individuals may purchase resident, non-resident, or senior season beach passes at this site. Any Rhode Islander who is eligible for a free pass must continue to obtain their pass in person at State Parks headquarters in North Kingstown.\n\n"We're excited to offer new, convenient options for Rhode Islanders and visitors to get a season pass so they can spend more time on the beach \u2013 instead of waiting in line at the entrance booth," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Our online option is just one way we're working to make our world-class beach facilities more accessible. The opening of our beaches is always a special time, and we invite everyone to head out to one of these spectacular places to watch the waves roll in or take a walk along the water's edge."\n\nDEM will be promoting the online buying option heavily between now and the official opening of beaches on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, in the hopes of easing traffic tie-ups into the parking lots. The season pass will be mailed to the address provided when the pass was purchased and must be affixed to the outside of the windshield of the vehicle it was registered to. Customers who have bought passes but not received them in the mail may show parking lot attendants their purchase confirmation email for entry; this confirmation can be on your phone and shown to booth attendants at entry, but please have paper back-up for any service or phone issues. No confirmation requires purchase of a day pass. Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80.\n\nDEM also is offering several in-person opportunities to buy season beach passes at the following locations:\n\no RI State Parks Headquarters, 1100 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning on May 25, passes will also be available for purchase on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Weekday hours may be extended with increased demand. Please call RI State Parks at 667-6200 to confirm hours or go to www.riparks.com\n\no The Scarborough State Beach overflow lot located across the street from Scarborough State Beach (870 Ocean Road, Narragansett) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, from May 11 to June 30, excluding Memorial Day weekend and holiday. Beginning July 1, passes will be sold from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding July 4.\n\no Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler, and Misquamicut state beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting, on Saturday, May 11; Sunday, May 12; Saturday, May 18; and Sunday, May 19.\n\no Entrance booths at all state saltwater beaches starting Tuesday, May 28. To reduce wait times and traffic, season beach passes will only be available for purchase at entrance booths on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Passes will not be available at beach entrance booths on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.\n\nThe fee structure for the 2019 season will remain the same as last year. The daily beach parking fee for residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. The fee for a season pass for residents is $30 and, through September 3, will be available for purchase at state beaches. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. A season pass is $60 for non-residents. A 50% discount on daily parking fees and season passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older. Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e., license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. (By law, a "vehicle" is defined as any street-legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.)\n\nState beaches will be open daily from Saturday, May 25, the traditional start of the summer outdoor recreation season, until Labor Day. Scarborough South, however, is scheduled to open on Saturday, June 22. This beach closes on weekdays starting in mid-August.\n\nNon-surf beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, the Burlingame Picnic Area, Pulaski State Park, and Fort Adams State Park will be open daily beginning Saturday, May 25, until Labor Day. There are no fees to access beaches within state parks.\n\nRhode Island's natural and public assets \u2013 including eight saltwater beaches, 8,200 acres of parkland, 1,000 campsites, 400 miles of hiking and biking trails, 200 fishing spots, and 25 parks and nature preserves \u2013 are magnets, attracting more than 9 million Rhode Islanders and tourists a year. They're also an engine that add an estimated $315 million to the economy, generating nearly $40 million in state and local taxes and supporting nearly 4,000 jobs a year. However, more visitors (a 37% increase in beach visitation from 2010 to 2017), far fewer employees (full-time staffing in DEM's Parks and Recreation Division has dropped by 67%, to 42 FTEs from 123, since 1989), longer seasons, and aging facilities are hindering DEM's ability to meet some park users' expectations. According to a recent study, Rhode Island's parks and beaches rank first nationally in visits per acre but 47th in state support per visit.\n\nDEM continues to accept applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry level and senior lifeguard positions are still available at numerous locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving.\n\nFor information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.