Tropical Storm Arthur may make some people uneasy about traveling to the coast, but local law enforcement is still expecting crowds to flock to Masonboro Island, a spot known for Independence Day festivities. That news has some local beachgoers unhappy.
"This is a protected area where so much of our area is being developed, this is a haven," said Wilmington resident and Masonboro Island visitor Matthew Jewell.
Jewell said the party atmosphere isn't good for the island's well-being.
"With all these people coming out here raging and partying and getting drunk, they don't care, they just throw their trash everywhere and get in their big boats and leave," Jewell said.
The parties are part of the reason why 22 deputies from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office will be patrolling the island this holiday weekend.
"We're telling you now we're going to be here. We're on the island. We're on the boats. We're watching just to make sure- just behave and enjoy the day," said Sgt. Jerry Brewer, a spokesperson for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
Brewer said that all visitors must have rides to and from the island and are prohibited from bringing liquor to the island.
Law Enforcement isn't alone. Environmentalists are issuing a similar safety message.
"Watch your step. Watch where the birds are. Don't go through the bird nesting areas. If you take a dog over there, keep it on a leash. Pick up your trash and if you see other trash, pick it up," said Ted Wilgis, Coastal Education Coordinator with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
Locals like Matthew Jewell are afraid that visitors won't head these warnings before heading to the island.
"I don't know how they're supposed to stop it with the amount of people that come out here. Are 22 deputies enough? Probably not. I mean there's thousands of people over here," Jewell explained.
He said that he will not be one of the thousands in attendance.
"Too many drunk people behind the steering wheels of boats, too many drunk people out here. Too many fights. Too many things that I don't want to be a part of," Jewell elaborated.
He said he will be counting on law enforcement to round up those that are misbehaving on the island.
"I'd like to see them all get arrested and go to jail," Jewell said.
Brewer said the Sheriff's Office does hand out citations and will make arrests if necessary.
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