My Turn, Your Turn: Trash on Masonboro Island - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC


My Turn, Your Turn: Trash on Masonboro Island

Source: Michelle Leyrer Source: Michelle Leyrer
Source: Jon Middleton Source: Jon Middleton

By Gary McNair - bio|email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - I just got back from a vacation with the family, and you know what surprised me most?  It was how some people chose to celebrate Independence Day - and the ugly aftermath of their celebration. 

Have you see the pictures of Masonboro Island?  This mess is disgusting.  Some people just have no respect for our ecological treasures.  We should all be very concerned about the damage humans are inflicting on Masonboro Island during holiday weekends.   

Every Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends, we see the same thing over and over - irresponsible people celebrating freedom by drinking too much beer and totally trashing a beautiful and fragile place.  

So what's the solution?  Unless someone has a better idea, I think closing the island on big holiday weekends might be the only answer. 

Yes, that's a case of a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone, but we can't afford to just sit back and let this keep happening.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  If you have a better solution - we want to hear it.  Email me at

Emailed response from viewers:

Well I think closing the island is a good idea myself because your not going to get people to clean up after themselves plain and simple. The only other idea I could think of is maybe having a fee set up for everyone that goes on the beach and that fee could go towards clean up afterwards. The only way anything will work to make people take responsibility for what they do on the beaches is to get names, phone numbers and tell them if you don't clean up then were coming after you and your wallet! PERIOD!


I Love this island . Let me say that again . I LOVE THIS ISLAND . It is a beautiful place to be when the world is so full of anger and dispair .

I must say that anger filled my heart when I saw the pictures of what happened to it on the past holiday , It was and still is a travesty .

We have the answer in front of us . Someone actually filmed the persons responsible for this ,  or at least part of them including the numbers on the boat sitting in front of the camera . Hold them responsible . They seem to be having a good time , let them have a good time cleaning up that island everyday for about a year or so . 

Littering is a crime , no matter where it is . Make them pay , not the ones who usually leave the island cleaner than when we arrived .

If you need a Island Monitor to monitor the island EVERY weekend , I'm your man . Give me authority and I will be there.


I saw the state of the island the day after July 4th and it's sad. However, I think closing the island on holidays is not only ruining it for the rest of us but it will only result in the problem moving to another spot. I think  it is the responsibility of the locals and the community to police each other and to make it known that littering won't be tolerated on Masonboro island or anywhere else.


Welcome back from vacation!

I agree with you! It appears from the pictures that there are more than two bad apples! This is a shame this island is a natural habitat park and they should not be allowed to use it!

Two questions come to mind, Are there any portable restrooms available?, and who foot the bill for the clean up?


I agree with you with the exception of one thing.  It is not a few bad's a lot of bad apples to make such a disgusting mess.  I hate to see some good people punished, but it doesn't seem like there were a lot of good people there.

My 2nd comment on trash has to do with the ride from Monkey Junction heading to two beautiful beaches......Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.  It is 4.9 miles of  weeds in some cases 2 and 3 feet high, lots of trash, and very little up keep except for a few residents that get out and try to pick up the trash.  On occasion it gets cut and sometimes a rare trash pick up.  Wouldn't you think Wilmington would want to showcase this and have it look like the 1000ft before Snows Cut Bridge where it is kept so nice?  They keep on talking about new parks and golf courses and what we have can't be taken care of.  The person responsible for that shouldn't be employed by the city anymore because the job is not being done.

Sir, it is disgusting and I wish you well in suggestions you have for a solution...........even shutting it down and sending out $200 fines to get the attention it deserves for trespassers.


Closing the island on certain Holiday weekends is a good idea. Those of us that care about the environment and aren't Litter Pigs don't want to be there with all those thoughtless idiots anyway. Some sort of law enforcement, like ticketing and the such would help too


Yes,,, we do need help on protecting the island. Some of the few who get a chance to visit the island to swim, picnic, or just to stroll  the sea shore and appreciate what God has given us. Why can't law enforcement patrol those areas,,,, if you have pictures of the partying on the news now and know it is being done. I am on the water almost every weekend and yes you are right it does mainly happen on the holidays,,,, but some weekends I see the partying and drinking of the beach goers and BOATERS !!!!!!!  Please don't punish the ones who go to fish and camp and take there trash with them when they leave. Let law enforcement who is on the water and patrolling  the area do something


I am responding to the problem at Masonboro Island on July 4th. I am a local person who owned a boat until 2 years ago. Probably 8 years, or so, ago we stopped boating during the July 4th holiday because of the crowds and the rowdiness of those crowds. We have been going over to Masonboro Island all of my life and it used to be just a few of us there but not anymore. In fact we almost never go there unless we get a rare weekday off work when there aren't too many people. The last time we went out on July 4th our boat was hit twice by drunks who were driving drunk and probably didn't know what to do with a boat sober. We are appalled at what happens on that island during the 4th and we blame, in large part, the beer company that sponsors the drunken bash and whoever it is that gives out the permit for the beer to be sold there. Isn't this a protected government piece of property? How is it that the sale of beer is allowed there in the first place? I don't agree that the island should be closed but I think there should NOT be any alcohol allowed to be sold in mass quantities by beer companies. They should also be the ones responsible for cleaning up the mess they helped create by distributing the beer with seeminly no responsibility for the consumers drunken state or the state of the island. Aren't there lawas against litter and can't the beer company be held responsible? I also think if the Coast Guard and Wildlife officials would park themselves nearby there would be less drinking. There is also a lack of decency by the young people there as they are often nude and defacating in the water in mass numbers. I can only imagine what it's doing to the fish and other wildlife around the island. Plus-people are swimming in the water where hundreds of people are urinating and defacating in the water. It's disgusting and I miss being able to enjoy this beautiful island that so many take for granted and abuse so freely


I agree totally with closing the Island on holidays. This sort of behavior will not stop, as some people just don't care about anything except themselves.


Maybe if there were police officer's patrolling the beach and handing out citations, the young crowd would move to another location.  It looks like the problem is caused by young adults or even underage drinkers, who typically don't stick around when there is supervision


Up until a few years ago, I frequented the island on the weekends by boat, but unfortunately, the dynamics of the people changed and it became less desirable.  Now those same undesirables are trashing a serene and beautiful island and causing others to clean up there mess.  (It is probably the same crowd that frequents the clubs and bars downtown on the weekends.)  So many of our young adults have lost respect for our planet and other people.  They need to be held accountable.

I think that the Wildlife should be sent to patrol the island.  Quite frankly, one of the primary things that they do on the weekends are "safety checks" at the boat ramps to make sure that everyone has their necessary boating equipment.  Although this is a nice benefit, most of the people that they check have everything required for safety and consider this "safety check" a nuisance to tax paying law abiding citizens.  If Wildlife staff were mandated to police the island, they would probably be able to give our more violations, ranging from drunk and disorderly conduct to underage drinking, etc.

Let's put one of our tax paying departments to a good use and at the same time, let's hold these irresponsible young people accountable.


If you have trash receptacles people would put their trash in them, if you give them the opportunity. I think for the most part people are aware of saving our environment but the possibility of a DUI is far greater. Banning the island is a bad idea. People also come from everywhere across the country just to go to the island for holiday fun.

With all the law enforcement in the area, I would never have empty cans on my boat due to the fact of getting stopped and checked and maybe taken in just on suspicion even if I have done nothing wrong. As for myself I do not drink so I am not worried. But for those that do, I am ok with it, they will be responsible if you give them somewhere to put their trash.

Also something you fail to mention is how many people were on the island in a weeks period? That really was not that much trash where you do the numbers. Grant it that does not make it ok either. I agree but we can coexist. Put out receptacles.


Who owns the island?  That's my big question.  It would be a great asset for the NC State Parks.  There would never be any alcohol allowed there if were state owned.  If people wanted to have a get together they would have to pay park fees, and it would be limited to only certain areas.  There would be a park ranger to enforce this and arrest people when things got out of hand.  But most important, the island would still be free and open to all.


Suggest all alcohol (consumption and possession) be banned from Masonboro Island.  Folly Beach outside Charleston is looking at doing this for the same reason.  And/or have local law enforcement and the Coast Guard confiscate their boats for 60-90 days minimum and require a hefty fine be paid to return their property.

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