Bacteria runoff can result in beach closures. Photo courtesy of MirrorPrism/

As identified in prior RIEMC reports, environmental monitoring in Rhode Island is increasingly challenged by resource constraints and funding uncertainties. Rhode Island relies heavily on state and federal agencies to fund environmental monitoring, and, over time, cutbacks in available funds have had negative impacts. Several important long-term monitoring programs remain vulnerable to future disruption due to a lack of reliable, sustainable funding, which could lead to a lack of desired information upon which to base management decisions. While emerging issues and current gaps call for expansion of existing or creation of new monitoring programs, the organizations and agencies that implement the state’s environmental monitoring programs are instead challenged to maintain current programs, which remain essential to Rhode Island science, management, and policy.

Volunteers conduct monitoring during BioBlitz. Photo courtesy of RINHS.

Environmental monitoring is a core state function shared by several agencies. Disruption due to funding uncertainty is a common concern to almost every state program across the country, but environmental monitoring has been subject to a series of reductions at the state and federal levels and it is a challenge to fill the resulting gaps. Rhode Island is fortunate to have a broad range of academic, federal researcher and non-governmental organization partners who contribute to the collective monitoring efforts in Rhode Island. The RIEMC helps facilitate collaboration among these many entities to optimize use of limited available resources; however, it is now to the point where certain monitoring efforts are expected to end due to insufficient funding to meet minimal program requirements. Despite continued funding constraints, Rhode Island monitoring programs have reported several successes over recent years, and these are highlighted throughout the website.