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Carolina Beach Seeking Approval To Use Beach Rake More Often

The Town of Carolina Beach is seeking permission to use a mechanical beach rake more than twice a year to clean the beach. They wish to use it on a weekly basis and must get state approval.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach is once again seeking state permission to use a mechanical beach rake more than twice a year.
The Town Council voted to purchase the beach rake in September of 2004. The plan was to use a four-wheel drive John Deere 5520 tractor to pull the rake to smooth the sand on the beachfront each morning while picking up trash and other debris such as cigarette buts. The tractor was purchased from Wilmington Lawn & Leisure at a cost of $27,167.00. The Barber HD600 Surf Rake was purchased from the manufacturer (Barber) at a cost of $39,740.00 by "piggy backing" on bids to Myrtle Beach, SC, and Hampton, VA.
Following the purchases, the Town was informed by he North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources they would not permit regular operation of the beach rake and tractor due to the possibility of harming sea turtle nests and shore birds. The Town hoped to sell the rake to Myrtle Beach, SC for $39,740.00 - the same amount it paid for the equipment, but Myrtle Beach turned down the offer.
In 2006 the Town met with representatives from NC Fish and Wildlife and still the Town was only allowed to use the rake twice a year outside of turtle nesting season from November to April. Turtle nesting takes place during the late spring, summer and early fall months.
On April 18th, Jerry Haire, Project Manager for Carolina Beach wrote to Doug Huggett and Robb Mairs, NC Division of Coastal Management and explained, "The Town of Carolina Beach currently has a CAMA Minor Permit to utilize a mechanical beach rake twice a year due to expire in December, 2014.  Due to increasing numbers of visitors and resulting trash on the beach, particularly in Freeman Park and in the central business district, the Town is proposing to increase beach raking to once a week for these 2 heavy use areas."
Haire explained, "The number of Freeman Park users continues to increase yearly. In 2012, over 8,000 annual passes and 18,500 daily passes were issued, with a monthly average of 2,200 vehicles entering the park.  For the July 4th weekend alone, over 3,500 vehicles used the oceanfront park.  While the town has an aggressive solid waste clean-up schedule, this does not address the smaller trash items such as cigarette butts, bottle caps, etc. the beach rake is ideal for. The rake tines protrude approximately 3 inches into the sand."
Haire explained the Town is specifically requesting to utilize the rake from the entrance gate north for approximately 6,000 linear feet to Marker 17, several hundred feet south
of the northernmost tip of the peninsula adjacent to the Carolina Beach Inlet.  All raking would occur above the mean high tide line and 10-15 feet from the base of the dune.
Haire wrote, "We are also requesting consideration to install Hatteras Ramps from the entrance of Freeman Park north for approximately 200 feet. This would greatly enhance emergency and public access for recreational use as this area is extremely narrow with deep soft sand. The entrance is frequently blocked during high use periods due to vehicles becoming stuck in the sand."
Haire explained, "For the downtown central business district, we are specifically requesting to rake the beach weekly from Harper Ave. south to Hamlet Ave. This two block area which includes
the Boardwalk and central business district, receives the highest concentration of beach users on the island and consequently is the most difficult to keep clean. All raking would be proposed above the mean high tide line and 10-15 feet from the base of the dune."
Haire explained in both areas beach raking would occur on Monday or Tuesday during daylight hours, in order to clean up after weekend crowds. During the turtle
nesting moratorium period (April to November), raking would occur in the morning after the turtle nest patrol is completed and any new nests are marked.
Haire wrote, "We appreciate your consideration of our request to maintain a cleaner, safer beach for the benefit of visitors, residents and wildlife.  We would like to schedule an on-site meeting with NCDCM, NCWRC, and USFWS to review the proposed project boundaries as well as see a demonstration of the mechanical rake."