§ 11-46.1-1. Disturbing intertidal salt marshes Penalty.
(1) Article I, § 17 of the constitution of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations guarantees to the people the free right of fishery; and
(2) The free right of fishery cannot be enjoyed unless both finfish and shellfish are in abundance to be caught; and
(3) The metabolism and catabolism of plants and animals which constitute the estuarine complex found in salt marshes furnishes the nitrates, phosphates, sugars, plankton, and organic chemicals necessary for the nurture of finfish and shellfish throughout the Narragansett Bay area and its environs; and
(4) All the salt marshes of this state are in jeopardy of despoliation by persons unmindful of the economic and esthetic consequences of that spoliation.
(b) Any person who dumps or deposits mud, dirt, or rubbish upon, or who excavates and disturbs the ecology of, intertidal salt marshes, or any part of one, without first obtaining a permit issued by the department of environmental management shall be fined for each offense five hundred dollars ($500), one half ( 1 / 2 ) to the use of the state and one half ( 1 / 2 ) to the use of the complainant.
(c) Any person who violates an order of the director of the department of environmental management to cease dumping or excavating shall be fined fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day he or she continues the dumping or excavating.
(d) Any person who so disturbs the ecology of an intertidal salt marsh may, upon complaint of the director of the department, filed in the superior court, be required to restore the salt marsh to the extent practical.
(e) For the purposes of this chapter an intertidal salt marsh shall be prima facie presumed to be those areas upon which grow some, but not necessarily all, of the following: salt marsh grass (Spartina Alterniflora), black grass (Juncus gerardi), seaside lavender (Limonium carolinianum), saltwort (Salicornea europaea), salt meadow grass (Spartina patens), spike grass (Distichlis spicata), salt marsh bullrush (Scirpus maritima) and sand spurrey (Spergularia marina), and upon which exists salt marsh peat.
(f) The director of natural resources shall refuse to issue such permit if, in his or her judgment, the dumping or depositing of mud, dirt or rubbish or excavation would disturb the ecology of intertidal salt marshes.
(P.L. 1965, ch. 26, § 1; P.L. 1967, ch. 73, § 1; P.L. 1969, ch. 175, § 1.)