Note: This article is updated to reflect the contribution of the
Avon Property Owners Association toward disposing of broken and
abandoned gear left behind by beach-goers.)
owls and early birds taking a stroll along a Hatteras Island beach
may encounter more than just the neighborhood sandpipers, seashells,
and other visitors who appreciate having the shoreline almost all to
and more beach-goers, mostly in front of the villages, are leaving
behind canopies, tent stands, and other gear on the beaches
overnight, or even for a full week -- a cause for concern and not
only for sightseers who prefer an unobstructed view.
what my staff tells me it’s [happening] more than what it has been
in previous years,” says Joseph M. Darling, Hatteras Island
District Ranger for the National Park Service. “The frequency is
while on the surface it may seem like there’s nothing wrong with
“camping out” for a week, leaving beach gear behind can
potentially cause a world of problems for wildlife, other visitors,
emergency vehicles, and the equipment owners themselves.
issue of leaving unattended beach gear on the shoreline is not a new
one for the Outer Banks.
years, the town of Nags Head struggled with a constant line of
metallic frames left standing for days at a time – an occurrence
that was generally attributed to visitors “staking a claim” on a
prime piece of beach real estate in an often crowded stretch of
one particular day in August 2014, Nags Head town officials counted
roughly 300 frames of tents and beach canopies dotting the shoreline,
and soon took action to put a stop to the practice, which included
removing the structures in the summer of 2016.
on Hatteras Island, the problem is less prevalent, and most visitors
aren’t leaving canopies or tent stakes behind in an effort to save
their spot, like visitors do in more crowded coastal communities.
Most of the time, beach gear is left simply as a convenience, as
dismantling and lugging along a tent on a daily basis can be a little
tiresome on a hot summer day.
regulations on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore also prohibit the
temporary abandonment of canopies and other structures.
to Section 36 CFR 2.22 of the seashore's laws and policies, "the
placement of unattended property on the beach, such as, but not
limited to chairs, toys, umbrellas, canopies, coolers, etc. is
prohibited between sunset and sunrise.”
to the same section’s justification, “This restriction ensures
the safety and enjoyment of the beach by all users and is consistent
with local ordinances in nearby towns. Chairs, umbrellas, canopies,
coolers, etc. can be harmful to people and wildlife. People walking
at night, public safety personnel who may have to drive on the beach
at night, sea turtles that must make their way to nesting areas and
hatchlings to the water to survive depend on safe and obstruction
free beach conditions.”
expands on the argument against leaving items behind, pointing out
the potential dangers for wildlife, people and equipment owners.
turtles are still nesting right now,” he says, “and a [tent or
canopy] could block access and prevent them from nesting where they
want to. They could also get tangled up in the lines that are tied to
canopies or tents, or even get tangled in a lawn chair or other
out for a nighttime stroll can stumble over equipment left behind on
the dark beaches, and law enforcement or EMS personnel, who may have
reason to drive on the beach at night, can also find it a hazard to
the equipment itself can be vandalized or just succumb to the
very common things are happening right now,” says Darling. “Sand
and salt is getting into the [mechanisms] of the canopies, and people
aren’t able to take them down or close them up easily. In addition,
we’ve gotten a few reports of theft. The NPS has gotten calls about
canopies or beach chairs that people thought we had, but which were,
in fact, stolen.”
Park Service will tag beach gear left overnight and will remove it
when resources allow, and park staff members are also tagging and
removing broken tent frames and other equipment that has been left
behind or which is piled up next to trash cans on the beach --
another growing problem along the seashore.
out there on a daily basis tagging them and removing them,” says
also notes that instead of leaving broken beach gear behind, owners –
or former owners – should move the discarded equipment to a local
dumpster or properly-sized receptacle, like the one near Ramp 44 to
Cape Point in Buxton.
encouraging people to get them off the beach every day if they leave,
and if they are broken, take them to the dumpsters,” says Darling.
the Avon beaches, the Avon Property Owners Association (APOA) has
sponsored a beach trash collection program for a number of years.
APOA board member, the association sponsors the program for the
convenience of the village's residents and guests. APOA hires a
contractor to collect trash from the 75 cans on the village beaches.
an added convenience, the contractor collects all abandoned beach
equipment, under a permit issued by the Park Service. Anzolut says
that in June and July of this year, APOA collected 85 tent frames,
167 beach umbrellas, and 262 broken beach chairs -- along with more
than 1,000 bags of trash.