MASONBORO ISLAND, NC (WECT) - Every year, thousands of people flock to the water on the Fourth of July, and many of them dock at Masonboro Island for the day.
"Masonboro Island is a huge draw, it has been for years," said Todd Rodabaugh. "People come from all over."
The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office says there has been a growing number of arrests for underage drinking on the Fourth of July and injuries on Masonboro Island. There has also been a concern about the large amount of trash left on the sand.
Authorities with the sheriff's office say approximately 2,300 people were at Masonboro Thursday, and the following number of incidents and warnings took place:
Wildlife officers said many people would get a ride to the island and then get stuck there, not having a way to take their trash with them when they leave.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people don't treat the island with any respect they take a lot of things out here then leave them," said Rodabaugh.
This year, though, several agencies teamed up to sure people clean up and stay safe both on the land and in the water.
According to Jack Kilbourne, founding member of Masonboro.org, 65 volunteers worked together Thursday to ensure the island was clean and clear of trash at the end of the day.
Kilbourne said the island was spotless when the volunteers left, and no follow up beach cleanup was necessary.
Wildlife officers also teamed up with an increased number of law enforcement officers to make sure people don't litter, and follow other rules, like drinking. ABC Officers patrolled making sure peopling drinking were at least 21 years old and weren't driving a boat.
"A lot of times when people get alcohol in them they think they can swim across the inlet, they can't and we always have to get them out," said Radabaugh. He says their main goal is to keep people safe, and keep the island safe, while they are it.
According to Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House, several agencies worked together to set up a command post to specifically deal with dispatching units to Masonboro Island, which cut down on duplicate dispatches.
House also said his units and WPD patrolled docks located on private property to keep boats from launching from the private party.
This was part of a plan set into motion several months ago where he got written permission from homeowners who frequently go out of town to go on their property if they feel like a crime was being committed.
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