State coastal agency to survey beachgoers about coastal access - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

State coastal agency to survey beachgoers about coastal access

When visiting the beach this summer, you might be asked to participate in a survey about your beach experience. (Source: WECT) When visiting the beach this summer, you might be asked to participate in a survey about your beach experience. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -
When visiting the beach this summer, you might be asked to participate in a survey about your beach experience.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, researchers from the University of North Carolina - Wilmington will conduct a survey on behalf of the state's coastal agency at public beach and waterfront access sites along the North Carolina coast.
The survey is a short questionnaire that will help coastal agency staff learn how North Carolina residents and visitors perceive the state’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program, identify any needed changes to the program, and determine the program’s economic impacts on coastal North Carolina.
"It's been 30 some years old now and it's never officially been evaluated like this," added Jim Herstine with UNCW Tourism Management. "I think everyone if you ask them they'll say the beach access program is great, but now with dollars getting tight we need to be concentrating on if and where we should build new ones or if we should focus on updating the existing ones."
Previous phases of the study gathered input about the access program from coastal business leaders and local government officials. Study results will be presented to the state Coastal Resources Commission in Spring 2017.
The Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program provides matching grants to local governments to construct low-cost public access facilities, including parking areas, restrooms, dune crossovers and piers. 
Projects range in size from small, local access areas to regional access sites with amenities such as parking lots, bathrooms and picnic shelters. Towns and counties may also use the grants to replace aging access facilities, or to help acquire land for access sites or to revitalize urban waterfronts.
More than 280 access sites have been constructed since the program began. Local governments are responsible for construction, operation and long-term maintenance of their sites.
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