Why You Should Visit
Goosewing Beach Preserve is one of Rhode Island's most scenic spots and a visitor favorite. Purchased in 1989 by The Nature Conservancy and partners, the 75-acre Goosewing Beach Preserve is a historic landmark. TNC staff have been actively managing breeding populations of globally-rare piping plover and state-threatened least tern for the last two decades. With the help of an extremely generous donor, TNC opened the doors of a newly constructed environmental education center in June 2010. The Benjamin Family Environmental Center is ideally situated to offer visitors a view of the many types of habitats that make up this coastal pond/barrier beach ecosystem.
What to Expect
During the summer months, the Town of Little Compton manages recreational use of the beach through an agreement with The Nature Conservancy. The only public access to Goosewing Beach Preserve is through the town's South Shore Beach, which charges an entrance fee during the summer months.
For the 2023 season, the South Shore Beach parking fee for non-residents is $20/day on weekdays and $25/day on the weekends. The fee is charged daily from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm, from approximately Memorial Day until Labor Day. Please see the Little Compton Beach Commission’s website for more detailed beach regulations, including camping rules. Please leave your pets at home and do not enter fenced areas marked off by enclosures. No dogs are allowed on the preserve from April 1st until September 1st.
Why TNC Selected this Site
Working with the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust and the RI Department of Environmental Management, TNC established the Goosewing Beach Preserve in 1989. It is one of five breeding sites for federally threatened piping plovers in the Sakonnet area of Rhode Island and nearby Westport, Massachusetts. Biologists have monitored the plover nesting grounds at Goosewing Beach since 1984. The muddy flats of the adjacent Quicksand Pond provide an important food source for piping plovers, as well as a safe brood-rearing area.
In addition, Goosewing Beach provides excellent breeding habitat for least terns, a state-threatened shorebird that often nests alongside plovers. The piping plover and the least tern were hunted almost to the point of extinction in the early 1900s. Along the Atlantic Coast, their populations were further impacted by increased oceanfront development, dune stabilization and beach improvement projects, increased recreational use and predation by dogs, skunks, raccoons, mink and gulls.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
TNC hires a plover assistant during nesting season (mid-April to early September) to monitor and protect the species and to help educate beach-goers about the shorebirds and other wildlife that inhabit the area.