WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Masoboro Island is one of the last barrier islands in North Carolina to remain undeveloped but every year thousands of visitors flock to beaches to enjoy the sun, the sand, and the surf for the Fourth of July.
While it can be fun to enjoy the holiday on the island, the state’s Division of Coastal Management is asking folks to remember that the island is a nature preserve and is home to vulnerable animals like sea turtles and sea birds who nest on the sand.
Hope Sutton, the stewardship coordinator for the North Carolina Coastal Reserve, says that although trash left behind is a major concern of theirs, it is far from the only concern they have.
“But also we want people to just think about safety in general,” she said. “This is a remote environment, there is absolutely no shade, there is no fresh water, and there are no facilities so people really need to plan ahead to make sure they have a happy and safe visit out here to Masonboro Island.”
Each year a group called Masonboro.org takes it upon themselves to clean up the trash left behind by partiers on the Fourth, but the impacts of people leaving their trash behind can have lasting effects.
“The main concern actually with the trash that visitors leave is that this area is so dynamic between the wind and the waves, the trash can get washed out and become true marine debris and get washed out into the ocean,” Sutton said.
Since the state actually owns the island, its has since hired the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to sit out on the island during the holiday, patrol it, and provide emergency services. Despite the fact that there can be upwards of 2,000 people on a small slice of the island during the holiday, that is the exception, not the rule when it comes to the island.
“The Fourth is a little bit different – normally it is really quiet out here and just small numbers of people. The Fourth is the largest crowd that we see at any point during the year out here… the rest of the time this is beautiful, quiet, nature preserve,” she said.
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