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ariel of rose island by onne van der wal

the whole island is about 18.5 acres and has only two lots. the lighthouse sits on the smaller of the two which contains 1.5 acres and is owned by city of newport. the rest of the island (about 17 acres) was acquired by the rose island lighthouse foundation (june 25, 1999) and it has not been made accessible to visitors because it is still very unsafe.

historical use:
rose island was used during world wars i and ii as part of the navy torpedo station where explosives were stored. after world war ii this use ceased and the island (except for the lighthouse) was declared surplus by the government. since then, over the last 50 years, mother nature has been slowly creeping back, taking possession. today, the only inhabitants of the torpedo station are three species of snakes, plus thousands of nesting birds that are protected by the state. there are no mammals -- therefore, no ticks! the lighthouse was operated until 1970, when it was abandoned and vandalized after the pell (newport) bridge was built. the rose island lighthouse foundation was organized in 1984 to restore and operate the lighthouse on behalf of the city of newport which received it from the us government at no cost.

public access:
the foundation keeps the lighthouse property open year round from 10 am to 4 pm -- but it's not so easy to get there except during the summer months when the jamestown ferry operates on a scheduled daily basis. all other times of the year the lighthouse foundation's boat takes overnighters and volunteers to the lighthouse aboard "starfish" (our new 32-foot jarvis newman lobster boat). school and group tours are offered by appointment from april through october. individual public tours are limited to july and august when the ferry runs daily and our guides are on site.

walking around the island is prohibited during nesting season which is from april 1 - august 15. outside of those dates, people may walk around the entire island, but you must stay on the beaches. as you walk around the island or view it from a boat on the water, you will see the dilapidated, buildings from world wars i and ii, which were used to store explosives. many of them are in danger of collapsing and it is very unsafe to explore in or even around them. remember: this is private property owned by the foundation which is required to protect it according to our deeded conservation easement. do not trespass.

people staying overnight at the lighthouse may paddle the foundation's kayak around the island or take binoculars up into the tower to see what’s happening, but from april 1 to august 15, rose island is strictly for the birds! in the winter, from late october to early april, you can often see harbor seals on the east side of the island at citing rock, which in the warmer months is surrounded by extensive underwater eelgrass beds.

see our photo album

remember these dates: between april 1 and august 14 access to the wildlife refuge is restricted. during this period no one (not even the keepers) may walk around the island or drag their boats up onto the beaches, except at the lighthouse landing.

for more information see our management plan.

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