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De-Rocking Oak Island Beaches

By Megan V. Williams

Wilmington, NC – Oak Island resident Muriel Nelson says her beach is sometimes just "a sea of rocks."

Nelson blames a sand renourishment project five years ago for leaving these lumpy leftovers along the strand. Environmental rules prevent the island from using machines to pick them up. So this weekend volunteers will apply some elbow grease to reclaim their sand, gathering the rocks by hand. The 'Rock'n Party' is organized by Oak Island's Beach Preservation Society, which Nelson vice-chairs.

According to Nelson, her group has collected 120 tons of rocks over the course of eight past events, but they're far from finished.

"By the time we probably get them all," she says, "we're going to need beach renourishment again."

Nelson describes portions of the beach as almost entirely rocks. "And when you're swimming, or walking in shallow water," she says, "these rocks are lethal."

Stones gathered from Oak Island's beaches are stockpiled by the city for municipal projects, although Nelson says her group has in the past also sponsored a contest for rock-based landscape designs.

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