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Town Shows State Officials Rake Can Help Clean Beach More Often

The Town of Carolina Beach invited state officials to view a demonstration of a mechanical beach rake. The Town is currently permitted to use it twice a year and is seeking permission to use it more often during the summer.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach held a meeting Monday June 10th, with state officials from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Coastal Management in an effort to obtain permission to use a mechanical beach rake to clean the beach more than twice a year.
Council members Steve Shuttleworth and Jodi Smith along with Mayor Bob Lewis and other Town officials including Freeman Park Committee member Fred Grady met at Town Hall to discuss concerns of state officials regarding the environmental impact of mechanical beach raking including impacts on sea turtle nests and removal of natural organic material from the sand along with litter and other debris.
After a brief meeting at Town Hall the group headed to the beachfront near the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier at the end of Carolina Beach Avenue North for a demonstration of the rake.
During the Council's June 11, meeting Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said officials from the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, "Were extremely supportive of the Hatteras ramps" that could be placed at the entrance of Freeman Park to help avoid vehicles getting stuck in the soft sand and blocking the entrance and exit. The ramps are wood slats linked together and placed atop the sand.
Shuttleworth said hopefully the Town will hear back from state officials later this week on their request to use the rake more often.
The Town purchased the Barber HD600 Surf Rake in September of 2004 for $39,740.00. The plan was to use it to smooth the sand on the beachfront each morning while picking up trash and other debris such as cigarette buts. 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.
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.
The Town's permit is due to expire in December 2014. Due to increasing numbers of visitors resulting in trash on the beach, particularly in Freeman Park on the North End of the Island, the Town requested to use the rake once a week or twice a month in Freeman Park and in an area of the beach in the downtown district near the Boardwalk.
State officials had concerns with the weight of the machine and tire pressure compacting the sand and possibly buried sea turtle nests. The Town has a turtle-monitoring program in place which patrols the beach every morning and marks new turtle nests. Another concern was how much beneficial organic material the machine would remove such as shells and small crabs.
During the demonstration the rake picked up plastic bottles, bags, cigarette butts, tops of food cans and other debris.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth (at right front) examines debris picked up by the beach rake on Monday June 10, after a short demonstration.