Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Editorial: Treat Masonboro like a jewel

We've briefly discussed Masonboro and its "issues" before. Recently, the Star-News in Wilmington weighed in.

In an area rich with natural resources, undeveloped Masonboro Island stands out as a gem. The barrier island between Wrightsville and Carolina beaches is a nature reserve and also a popular destination for beachgoers.

Unlike our beach towns and the popular north end of Carolina Beach, there is no regular supervision on the fragile barrier island, which is a sea turtle nesting area, important marine nursery and wildlife haven.

Unfortunately, another sort of “wildlife” has put its mark on the island at times, leaving the beach trashed after busy summer weekends, especially holidays. In addition to trash, there have been fights and injuries amid the throngs of people and anchored boats along the island’s shoreline.

After one particularly wild weekend a few years back, New Hanover County sheriff’s deputies ferried ATVs to the island and patrolled the area. Most people seemed to get the message about the trash, and officials and island supporters were pleasantly surprised to arrive on the island the day after a big holiday weekend and find very little litter. ...

With the weather warming up and people beginning to take the short boat ride to the island, it’s important to get the word out that, although a closure to the public is not imminent, it is always a possibility.

With the folks at the N.C. Coastal Reserve taking a hard look at the rules for Masonboro and all its other sites up and down the North Carolina coast, folks using the island need to be on their best behavior.

And not simply because access could be restricted, but because it is a fragile and unique place that we share with all sorts of marine life, and because taking special care of this jewel is the right thing to do.

Visit Masonboro. Enjoy its isolation and its beauty. And honor it by being a good steward

Water project gets funding

According to news sources, Carolina Beach has received a $100,000 grant from the state to go toward buying a .287-acre parcel that will become part of the Ocean-to-Sound Access Park and future home of the NC Aquarium Pier.

The grants are meant to help towns and counties restore streams, improve stormwater collection and benefit other water resources.

Now if we can only do something about the foul-smelling water ...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Report: Snakes, Venus fly traps and pirates - oh, my!

A nice piece from the Miami Herald about the Cafe Fear Coast.

We thought we’d done every “trail” imaginable, from wine trails to art trails to birding trails. But...a Venus flytrap trail? Sure enough, Wilmington has 12 sites devoted to this carnivorous plant, since this city is the only place in the world, they say, where you can see the Venus flytrap in its native (boggy) environment. That attraction alone was enough to draw us to Wilmington, a city that’s never been on the top of our “must-see before you die” list.

Our young traveling companions were skeptical. “Plants?” Raevin, 7, asked. “Seriously? We’re going to look at a bunch of plants?” She gave us a look that said “Totally lame!” We promised her we’d make a trip to the beach after we visited the flytrap trail at Carolina Beach State Park.

Once Raevin saw the bug-eating plants, with their teeth-y leaves, she was captivated, busily snapping photos. When we decided to check out some other walking trails at the park, there were no complaints from Miss Raevin.

It turns out that Wilmington had other surprises. Far from a snooze, we found Wilmington to be wildly kid-friendly.

Among the highlights were, naturally, the beaches.

The Cape Fear Coast has 31 miles of beach, and they’re a big draw. Everyone raves about Wrightsville Beach, but we found it full of co-eds in teensy bikinis. (What Mom needs that? We were here to have fun, not to feel self-conscious about the muffin-tops sprouting under our tankinis!) So we spent most of our beach-time at Carolina and Kure beaches — especially the fishing pier at Kure Beach, one of the oldest on the East Coast. We didn’t fish ourselves, but it was fun to see what other fisher-folk were pulling out of the water. Carolina Beach has a retro-looking boardwalk (circa 1896) with carnival rides (in season), Trolley Stop Hot Dogs, a local landmark, and Britt’s, one of the top donut shops in the U.S. What’s not to like?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Metered parking costs to go up

Beginning today, it will cost $1.25 an hour to park in CB metered spaces from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., according to WECT.

Parking on the island will still be free after 7 p.m.

There are several pay station lots to make parking more convenient. Those stations accept $10, $5, $1, nickels, dimes and quarters in addition to Visa and Master Card.

[See a detailed map of parking lots and spaces at Carolina Beach (PDF)]

Freeman Park passes will also cost a little more starting April 1. They could be purchased for $60 until the end of March, they jump to $100 in April.

Just know that if you rent Our Beach Place and just hang out and relax, parking isn't a problem.