Large sections of sand dunes wiped out by Hurricane Matthew are under construction here, but won’t take hold unless tourists stop treating the piles like a child’s sandbox, officials say.
Adults are climbing over the dunes and children are digging in them, so county officials are considering a new ordinance to put a stop to it before the rehabilitation work is destroyed.
“There is no sea oats on the dunes right now, so people believe they are just big sand piles for people to play in,” said Tyler Servant, the Horry County councilman who represents District 5 including Garden City. “We want to make sure the beaches are protected, and don’t want people tampering with our dune lines.”
Hurricane Matthew swept the dunes from the beach to South Waccamaw Drive in October, where hundreds of yards of roadway were covered in sand, higher than a foot in many places.
The sand was later swept up, filtered and used to reconstruct the dunes.
But, until the federal beach renourishment project gets underway this fall and sea oats and other vegetation are planted, the dunes remain vulnerable.
Without the dunes there is no stopping the surf, especially if another storm hits, from damaging homes, utilities and the roads, Tyler said.
Laws are already in place to protect sea oats, beach grass, vegetation and sand fencing in unincorporated areas of the county, but do not specifically address the sand dunes, according to the proposed ordinance.
The measure was widely approved during the first reading earlier this month, and a public hearing will be held at the council’s meeting Tuesday night before they vote on the second reading.
The ordinance would become law after passage of a third reading.
According to the new language, it will be illegal for beachcombers to traverse across or on the dunes.
“Our police department needed this in place so they could enforce it,” Tyler said.
There are already signs warning tourists to keep off the dunes, but the warnings carry no teeth, Tyler said.
New signs would be erected to outline the new law if passed, and the $500 fine or 30 days in jail that come with violations.