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

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